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Archive for March 7th, 2007

Our Gang

I usually save Blogroll posts for Friday, but I think this weekend is going to be chock full of basketball fun. Besides, my indie brethren and sistren have written some doap stuff already this week:

Mr. Thursday says “Go back to bed, grandpa”

Dan Shanoff and Jamie Mottram blog about the most influential bloggers.  Apparently, I’m not on the list.

The Ladies… are objectifying the men of Middle America. And you know, we kind of like it.

The Feed Helps me dig up more underserved talent for Smells Like Pujols:

Awful Announcing pronounces a fatwah on Billy Packer. This petition has 1500 signatures. My petition to bring the UNT jazz band to the NCAAs has 22. As always, my finger is squarely on the pulse of the nation.

Head Chick in Charge is running Jason Whitlock. Literally.

At 82sluggowin, they miss college football so much they’ve turned to poetry.

Sports Gone South has learned the true value of hate in this most wonderful holiday season (Big Dance Time, yo!)

And finally, College Rule Notebook has caught sight of the elusive Javelina. I’m going to send Jim in to wrestle the beast while I sit in the Land Rover and drink gin.

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Get this: My boss of all people just sent me a link to the item that may well send fantasy sports over the Niagara Falls of dorkiness. In fact, this could propel fantasy sports nuts ahead of the guys who waited in line for PS3.

There are now championship rings for fantasy sports

I can’t wait to get mine after the Smells Like Pujols six-year plan finally pays off and I take the Roto crown this year. Or this season could go the way it usually does and my boss will get “one for the thumb”.

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Today I don’t feel like writing about basketball. (Wow, I could almost hear the sigh of relief from here). I feel like writing about writing, in fact. And specifically, the writing on the Fox television hit House, M.D.

hugh_laurie_house0.jpgNow, let me say that House is not really my favorite show. I resisted watching it for nearly the first full year of its run because A) I’m sick to death of hospital shows B) I’m bored by formulaic hour-long dramas, and C) I hate that stylish action trumps internal logic on these kinds of shows. All of those things still bother me about House.

The patients exist only as props for the main character to manipulate. For that matter, Omar Epps and Robert Sean Leonard are the only permanent supporting cast members who ever delve into three dimensions. The medical dramas are predictable – only the most visually disturbing symptoms (seizures, rectal bleeds, puking) and procedures (Needle in the eye? Skull drilling? YES!) will ever be shown, and have long since ceased to shock me, though they do make me squeamish from time to time. We know the wrong diagnosis will be made at least twice, and that every decision will have potentially fatal consequences. And pretending that Gregory House’s boss, friends, and co-workers would not only put up with his bullshit but actually love him and bend over backward to accomodate him is insulting to my intelligence.

And yet I watch every new episode that comes on. Why? The dialogue. The writing on House M.D. is routinely the most intelligent, biting, and hilarious scripting on network television. Credit for delivering great lines with panache (and a mind-bogglingly accurate American accent) goes to British actor Hugh Laurie, who is undeniably the center of gravity in the House solar system. But the writers turn out astoundingly snappy dialogue for House to spit, and they refuse to dumb it down for the audience. They also steer clear of political correctness by letting House be the Archie Bunker of our time. whineandcheese.JPGHe despises all people equally, and he regularly lampoons our current cultural confusion about race, gender, and disability with statements that make me cringe and laugh out loud at the same time.

I give the people listed below credit for courage, intelligence, and timing. They are smart enough to give House a worthy adversary every few seasons. The battle of wills between the doctor and the billionaire Vogler in season one was good TV, and I really enjoyed David Morse as the menacing cop Tritter in recent episodes. He was a perfect foil for House – an arrogant prick vs. an arrogant prick – each character had a good reason to hate the other, and each refused to cave. It was a brilliant and necessary story arc, though it wobbled a bit toward the end.

The Writers
David Shore (59 episodes, 2004-2007)
Lawrence Kaplow (12 episodes, 2004-2007)
Thomas L. Moran (7 episodes, 2004-2006)
Peter Blake (6 episodes, 2004-2006)
David Foster (6 episodes, 2005-2007)
John Mankiewicz (5 episodes, 2004-2006)
Russel Friend (5 episodes, 2005-2006)
Garrett Lerner (5 episodes, 2005-2006)
Matt Witten (5 episodes, 2005-2006)
Liz Friedman (3 episodes, 2005-2006)
Sara Hess (3 episodes, 2005-2006)
Doris Egan (3 episodes, 2006)
Sara B. Cooper (2 episodes, 2004-2005)
Matthew V. Lewis (2 episodes, 2006-2007)
Pam Davis (2 episodes, 2006)

So, all told, I can overlook the formulaic and inconsistent aspects of the series (it’s leaps and bounds beyond what Fox is generally capable of) and focus instead on the multiple laughs I get out of each hour. At some point I know the series will tip toward melodrama and absurdity (have you seen E.R. recently?), because an outrageous character becomes routine unless he finds new ways to shock. But until then, I’m going to applaud the people on this list for their ability to turn me green with writerly envy.

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jazzband2tn.jpgBy now anyone reading this blog knows I am a college basketball fan. What you may not have known is that I am also a fan of jazz music.

When I saw that the University of North Texas was playing in tonight’s Sun Belt Conference final for the auto-bid to the NCAA tournament, I immediately remembered the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band. UNT has one of the premiere jazz education programs in the U.S., and their student bands are ranked in ability based on what lab session the musicians attend. The One O’Clock session is the top chair.

The band releases an annual CD of their best tunes, and I thought it would be great if the University could be talked into bringing them along to generate interest in the team and the band and the school. If you like basketball, underdog stories, jazz music, or quixotic internet stunts, please sign the petition at the link below:

Make UNT Swing at the Big Dance! (link will open in another window)

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