Category Archives: TV

Dunder Mifflin Canvas Art (Suitable for “The Office”)

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Because it is hard-wired into every white person’s DNA, I love “The Office.” (The TV show, not the place of servitude so many of us inhabit during a routine workday.)

We recently started re-watching the defunct series. Since we’re old, not only are we newly surprised by the antics of the workers of Dunder-Mifflin paper company but in many ways have found a new appreciation for the themes. Every story transforms into something new as you grow older. The hard-and-fast world of the known and certain turns to mist as the sublime supplants it.

Starting with another person’s concept and picture, I created a 16X20 canvas of the main characters of the show, as a gift for my wife. She certainly wasn’t expecting THIS. I’m going to have to nail it to the wall before she changes her mind. On the other hand, I still have my 16X20 wood panel in my bathroom, the one of Jeff Daniels from Dumb And Dumber on the toilet. It still gives my bathroom that touch of class that all American bathrooms desperately need, the kind that guest towels and little bowls of soap can’t seem to convey.

For those who find it to be sacrilegious instead of humorous, I say, “Look away,” an approach which works amazingly well for those who are capable of implementing it.

Signed,
X Teri, Amazing Artist & Doubtful Decorator

Dexter+ Returns To Kill Us All

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Starting with the most important point: Dexter will return for another season. I’m as certain of it as Michael C. Hall’s agent was when he recommended to his client that he make “Safe” for Netflix.

Dexter will haunt us again if no other reason than it’s going to be profitable for everyone involved.

Some of us have been fooled by fake promotional posters for the mythical Season 9 of Dexter. It’s easy to fool those who already long for such a scenario to be a reality. As for the studios involved, I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be profitable for them to have a go at Dexter+ in the near future. I’m betting that it will be sooner rather than later. (Dexter+ is the name I’m recommending that the studios adopt.)

For the neanderthals walking among us, Dexter was a Showtime series featuring a likable vigilante serial killer in Miami.

In a testament to forgetfulness, I watched the entire run of Dexter again. First, I thought there were fewer seasons. Second, it’s undeniable that some seasons had some strange plot twists and contrived storylines. Good tv is forgiven the infrequent gaffe. Rewatching the show provided me with several instances in which I noted that the writers had dropped hints of possible futures for Dexter. None of them seemed relevant the first time I watched. Now that I’ve revisited Dexter, the infinite storylines available to great writers seems endless.

Now that I’m finished rewatching, my mind seems focused on the monumental things I’d forgotten – or had completely wrong. Many fans were incensed at the way the show ended. Lt. Batista never knew Dexter’s secret. Quinn survived, no matter how badly I rooted for him to get shot from a balcony. Debra, of course, is fish food.

I like to imagine Lt. Batista still at his desk, being the kind-hearted stereotype he always was. Debra, being eaten by the sharks in the bay as the currents move her back and forth. Dexter, sitting in his place in the Northwest, fantasizing about his next appearance in a Gillette commercial.

Of this I’m certain: there will be another season of Dexter. Showtime insisted that Dexter would survive the series finale, even as writers argued about whether it was realistic. His son Harrison would now be about to reveal whether he inherited Dexter’s affinity for mayhem. The story can pick up at any point in time, past or present and in any geographical location they choose. The real world still spins and no one substantive apparently suspected that Dexter was indeed a serial killer. His cover story could be amnesia or a mental break which rendered him incapable of returning to the life he was already leaving before Debra’s death. Lumen still lurks in the midwest. Hannah walks the earth, probably still free.

As with all good stories, the biggest obstacle is one of creativity on the part of those tasked with creating a new timeline for Dexter.

It’s inevitable.

Showtime, it’s your turn.

If you think you can shirk your duty to bring us another season of Dexter, you’re as foolish as Dexter was, each time he attempted to live a normal life.

The only trailer for the new season we need is this: Doakes at the boatyard, telling Dexter, “Suprise, m*********a!” No explanation, no cutaway, followed by a fade to black as the word “Dexter” enters and fades from view.
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We All Live In Nakatomi Tower

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“Hey, sprechen ze talk?” – Harry Ellis

The holiday season can be defined in any manner people see fit. For some, it is an intensely personal celebration of the cornerstone of their faith. For others, it’s an excuse to share time with family and friends. While this will cause a ruckus for some, those who disagree should look to history for an explanation, lest Hans Gruber and his merry lot of robbers burst into their lives and spoil their festive plans. There’s room for everyone to live and love the holiday exactly as he or she wishes. Even for nutjobs like me who love fruitcake or those weirdos who enjoy trees comprised of one single color. Luckily for all of us, our party requires no invitation or dress code.

“Welcome to the party, pal.”

If people love the movie Die Hard as a yuletide movie, it follows that it is, in fact, a holiday movie. Observance of a ritual makes it so. It’s for this reason that I abandoned most of my foolish insistence on orthography and spelling. People drive usage and customs, often at the expense of the comfort and sanity of those around them. As much as we like to insist on consistency, everything is always in flux. In a century, the words I’m using will feel awkward. There will be new traditions we never imagined – and many of ours will seem antiquated. Change is so constant and gradual that we allow ourselves to forget that nothing we do today was always done by our predecessors. Some of us get stuck in a feedback loop that traps us in the idea that our way has always been the way.

Traditions and customs ebb, flow and grow in a wild manner, with complete disregard for what preceded them. If you find yourself struggling with friends or family who disagree with the way you choose to celebrate (or not), ignore them. Don’t fuss or argue, even if you want to wrap them in a chair with Christmas lights, and drop them down an exploding elevator shaft with a note indicating, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.” Wave your hand in the air in frivolous disregard for their jaw-wagging. Sgt. Al Powell didn’t heed Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, did he?

If you want pizza for Christmas dinner, enjoy it. If you want to play board games and drink fizzy margaritas, followed by a bacchanalia of present opening at midnight, jump in with enthusiasm. If you feel the urge to put up a tree in October, do it. A great number of non-religious people celebrate the holiday, a fact which riles a few of the faithful, as if another person’s choices spoils their own. There is no “one” way to celebrate the holiday. No matter what choices you make, I promise you that someone somewhere is making a twisted face about how you choose. Capitulating to nonsensical demands about a holiday lessens everyone’s enjoyment in life. You’ll feel like Harry Ellis with a hole in your head, after literally trying to negotiate with a terrorist.

If Die Hard is your favorite Christmas movie, then revel in John McClane’s adventures. Should anyone lecture you about your choices, unclasp your watch and let them fall away, like Hans Gruber from Nakatomi Tower. They’ll make the same face as he did when they realize that you can’t be swayed. “Happy Trails, Hans!”

The last thing you want to be is a Grinch, or as the eloquent John McClane puts it, “Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the a$$.” He also exhorted us to, “Take *this* under advisement, jerkweed.” Wise words.

The question isn’t whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie; rather, the question is why do other people care that you celebrate it as part of your tradition? Heathens and believers alike can rejoice that our world is one of crazy, infinite freedom. In a season of lovingkindness, so many lose their focus on its possibilities.

P.S. It could have been worse. There are those who think that “Christmas Vacation” is the best holiday movie ever made, which proves my point that all of us are crazy.

Yippee ki yay, melon farmers!

“Teddy Perkins” & Atlanta

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I wouldn’t blame anyone for failing to heed entertainment recommendations from me. We all have bizarre friends who watch “The Bachelor,” live sports, or sitcoms with laugh tracks – all of whom insist they have just the show for us to enjoy. My tastes are as weird as a squirt of ketchup in a glass of lemonade.

So, instead of trying to get you to watch the entire run of “Atlanta,” I’m asking you to give Season 2, Episode 6 a try. It’s a stand-alone episode, independent of its season and character arcs.

“Atlanta” is one of those shows in which your preconceived notions about its content will interfere with your ability to fully enjoy it. It’s one of the best shows on television and one which I’m pleased to say I overcame my idiotic idea of preferences and taste. It’s been a joy to watch, as many of the moments Donald Glover has captured are tiny boxes of the sublime. Despite moments of involuntary laughter, the show isn’t supposed to be a comedy per se. Watching it reminded of the time I saw “No Country For Old Men.” During the infamous shower scene in which the killer pulls the shower curtain on his victim before blasting him with a shotgun, I alone laughed long and loud in the crowded theater. I just ‘knew’ it was supposed to be surreal and amusing. Apparently, no one else did.

Season 2, Episode 6, titled “Teddy Perkins” was one of the best single television episodes I’ve ever watched. It ranks near the series finale for “Six Feet Under,” although for completely different reasons. This particular episode can be watched without having seen any of the previous installments of “Atlanta,” although I recommend beginning with the first episode. This episode was originally shown without commercials. While watching, I dreaded that the episode would end. I knew while watching it that something special was afoot. Teddy Perkins is like a long bout of  loud maniacal laughter during a eulogy.

While I’m certainly not the main demographic for this show, I can’t imagine a more sublime story for the “Teddy Perkins” episode, one which delighted me with its strangeness and wit. The episode is packed with so many cultural references that it’s impossible to slow down sufficiently to note them all. It’s suspense and horror, but also a revelation.

Darius’ character has many of the best moments, in my opinion, and this episode allows him to revel in his reactions. Watching Darius observe Teddy Perkins as he eats an ostrich egg is somehow more unsettling than witnessing a murder. While he might have originally visited the mansion with the intent of retrieving a free piano, I’ll bet Darius would’ve traded anything to be somewhere else. Darius has a chance to flee the mansion more than once but stays in hopes of getting his piano. Nothing is free, even if the cost is an intricate dance with one’s sanity. (Even if the piano keys are elegantly painted in rainbow colors.)

While I didn’t know it at the time, it was Donald Glover himself who portrayed the enigmatic and horrific Teddy Perkins character. Everything about the show “Atlanta” is a reflection of his genius and this episode finalized my conclusion that the type of television he makes is something that I’d watch a lot of.

The episode is both horror and commentary, yet can be watched with an amazing sense of disbelief without concerning yourself with deeper meaning. For a moment, it seems as if the inevitable violent ending would be avoided. It wasn’t. We should have known better. On one level, the episode can be about the violence so many fathers show their sons. As in the case of angry fathers, someone will pay. It’s just a question of when.

We wouldn’t have wanted to turn off the television and imagine living in a world in which Teddy Perkins might end up in a dimly-lit room with us.

Nothing New?

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The stupefaction of those who say things like, “Great, another remake!” Or, “They don’t have any new ideas anymore.”

Like you, the guy saying it.

We’ve heard it before. We’ll hear it again. And again. From you.

The entire development of the human species, in conjunction with some amazing technology, movies, music, and literature, demonstrates that you are full of cow dung. It’s impossible for an engaged and attentive person to be bored at this buffet the world provides.

There’s a movie remake you aren’t interested in? Don’t see it. A song was redone by a new artist? Don’t listen to it. An unexpected revival of an old show that you don’t want to see ‘ruined’? Don’t watch it. I could write 50 such snarky extensions of my point. But I won’t – and not just because I’ll know you’ll complain about that too.

People have always complained about rehashing old ideas. Generally, the people who do it with the least creativity are older and tend to seldom contribute anything innovative to their surroundings. I’m generalizing, of course, and there are exceptions. Not everyone watches “The Office” 43 times or refuses to listen to any new music or mashups of old classics. Find a new genre, a new crowd, a new book, a different perspective.

The world is an interesting place. Not all remakes are worthy. Not all originals are, either. Sometimes, though, someone takes a new perspective on an old idea and breathes life into it. It’s a sight to behold.

So, before you bitterly opine about something being redone again, stop and consider: you are inflicting the same agony on us by voicing such an opinion.

Go out and create something. Anything.

The world is too full of interesting people with something to say for you to blame them for your lack of appreciation of what’s at your disposal.

“Casual” on Hulu

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When the show “Casual” started on Hulu, I thought it might be at least an interesting diversion. It turned out to be a delight at every turn. Even when everyone was being a literal pain in the ass on the show, it was engaging in ways that most shows aren’t. In so many ways, it evoked some of the same sentiments in me that “Six Feet Under” did. The show deserved all the praise it earned, even as it ignored the supposed line between comedy and drama. “Smart people behaving badly” has been done many times, but rarely with the contained breath of this show.

I expected the show to excel in its final season, even as I complained to myself, as all fans of a show meeting its demise so often do. Now that the curtain has closed and I’ve seen the finale, I can only wonder about how all these fictional characters are doing in their separate lives. The writers convinced me that all these people were indeed real and that I would no longer be a voyeur in their lives. It was an elegant dance to watch it wind down.

The antepenultimate scene was of Alex’s empty house, the center and crucible for so much of the show. As that scene faded, a door somewhere within slammed with finality. Oddly, I felt the door close. Alex was in the autonomous car with his daughter, heading for his new life. The selfish man we knew was looking forward and making choices he couldn’t have made several years earlier. As he teared up, he smiled and as this scene faded, he looked down and to the right, obviously seeking memories of those now gathering in his absence. In the last scene, we saw everyone else in a jovial room together.

It was a moment filled with inevitable nostalgia. I think many people joined me in thinking that this couldn’t be it and that Alex wasn’t really moving away.

Alex, never the sentimental type, hid a few precious photos inside the Ova box (a digital personal assistant) for Valerie to find. All of them were combinations of Valerie, Alex, and Laura, the essential heart of the show. Valerie wiped the tears from her face as Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On” began to fill the room. Much like “Parenthood” opened my heart a little for Bob Dylan, this final scene gave me an appreciation for this Petty song, one I always disregarded.

The scene blurred completely away, letting us know that life was going to continue for all of them, out of sight, but perhaps lingering in our heads instead of on our devices.

“Casual” is one of those shows whose name conflicts with the complicated joy of humor and pain being blended together.

I hate to see its departure. That’s a sign of how crafted it was. Many people forego television for their own reasons. “Casual” is one of those few shows which can make you feel that subtle immersion you experience when reading an exquisite book. When the last page passes, you look up at the room you’re in, wondering if the other world contained in the book still spins on its own axis.

Television can be magic. If you haven’t watched “Casual,” it’s your loss. It’s filled with old friends and people you’ll be fascinated by.
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“Casual” seasons 1-4 are available on Hulu, and some are available on DVD, for the few Amish among us who have DVD players.

Another Beautiful Wood Panel from Snapfish

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My latest 11×14 wood panel/picture, which Snapfish custom-made for me. Just in time for Season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” this picture will remind me of not only the perils of an authoritarian government but also the dangers of letting me have photo editing tools at my disposal. I must admit that I totally rock the dystopian red outfit, though.

When asked how my wife Dawn sees the future with me in it, she replies, “…with eyes closed.”

 

#handmaidstale  @handmaidsonhulu

The Gift of “Rectify”

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“It’s the beauty that hurts the most, not the ugly.” – Daniel

As a reader and lover of language, I sit in satisfied wonder after watching “Rectify.” It’s been said by many that it was the best show that no one was watching. Rarely do characters come so vivaciously to life, murmuring and whispering with such glib eloquence. Listening to the people in this show move through complicated lives in this show is the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing visuals as if they were a novel. Several times in the past, I’ve read of the love and admiration of this show and renewed my self-promise to immerse myself. Not until the show was finishing its run, however, did I stop gazing at it on my to-do list and start down the intricate road it travels. I regret not having been a part of it since it first aired but I will make amends by recommending it to anyone with a discerning taste for depth.

If you have the opportunity, please visit Netflix and give this treasure of a show an open door in your life. You won’t regret it, even if the pace seems to be too languid for you at the beginning. Oddly, if you describe yourself as an avid reader, I’m convinced that this show will be an immediate friend to your life.

The intelligence of this show astounds me. The people inhabiting the world it paints for us trip and fall, even as they see the obstacles in front of them. Countless times I watched the inevitable pain surprise them, only to see a parallel to my own life. The mirror it smashes into my face catches all the sublime idiocy of the steps we all take, regardless of the severity of circumstance.

From the show’s beginning, Daniel emerges from prison and instead of railing against the injustice, he perplexes everyone with a deeply insightful commentary on the world. I’ve had trouble explaining to people exactly what about the show was so captivating. “It’s about a man who is released from prison after almost 2 decades.” If that’s the case, “Sling Blade” is just a movie about an eccentric older man being let out of psychiatric care in the South. The particulars aren’t what brings forth the revelations: it’s the humanity inherent in so many scenes of this show.

It’s difficult for me to pull back from my enthusiasm for this show; it’s likely I’ve over-sold it people. Something about it forcefully reminds me of the wild emotion I felt the first time I finished “The Prince of Tides” and heard the words, “Lowenstein, Lowenstein, Lowenstein” reverberate in my mind.

If you need a gift for yourself, I recommend that you find a quiet moment to step away from your real life, sit down, and give “Rectify” the chance it deserves to unfold the way television should be revealed. It avoids the mega-dose of plot twists that doom so many potentially great tv shows or movies. Don’t let the initial premise of a condemned man’s unexpected release from prison trick you into thinking you understand what this show is about. The story is about us, individually and collectively, careening around the backdrop of what it means to be human.

The show itself is a crescendo of discovery as the seasons reveal themselves. By the end of season 4, you will find yourself under the gossamer veil of nostalgia, for a world you would love to live in. As the show ends, you will find yourself feeling restless for unknown highways and side roads, all hopefully leading to places where people like Daniel Holden might feel at home. (And allow us a moment to sit in their presence.)

If you are lucky, it will reveal glimpses of your own self that you’ve kept hidden slightly around the corner.

“Finding peace in the not knowing seems strangely more righteous than the peace that comes from knowing.” – Daniel

 

 

Newport Potatoes, Aziz Ansari & ‘Master of None’

 

 
This post will be of interest to those who cook or watch TV, and probably even those weirdos who cook while watching – and perhaps even Peeping Toms who watch those who do either or both. I think I’ve covered the potential fan base of this post adequately, except to remind you to stop cooking in the nude.

Comedian Aziz Ansari’s second season of “Master of None” is on Netflix. It’s one of the most genuinely comedic shows I’ve watched in a long time. It also connects on a deeper level, pinging a depth of emotion and shared experiences that’s difficult for most shows to approach. The nuances are clouded inside a veneer of comedy but I find this to be the case with most shows that I appreciate.

While watching the latest season, I laughed like a diseased jackal when I heard that they too had a recipe for “Newport Potatoes,” a recipe that my mom perfected through countless meals in my youth.

Here’s the recipe for Newport Potatoes: use the regular mashed potatoes recipe, except ensure that a careless and/or drinking chain smoker is in the room and involved in making the potatoes. They’re called “Newport Potatoes” due to the popular Newport cigarettes. My mom tended to make “Winston Potatoes,” though.

(Note: At one point, Newport cigarettes accounted for almost 1/2 of all African-American cigarette sales. I loathe including true facts in my posts, but this one was interesting enough to warrant a detour from my usual tomfoolery.)

So, as I often warn people, check your potatoes before eating, to ensure that it’s black pepper in the spuds instead of cigarette ash. (Not that cigarette ash tastes bad or causes gastric distress.)