This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fall TV Preview -- Part II

CBS -- Not Just For Olds Anymore

How I Met Your Mother -- This sitcom features Doogie Howser, Jason Segal from "Freaks & Geeks," and Allyson Hannigan. However, none of them play the lead role (that went to Generic Bland Sitcom Guy), and the story is told in "flashbacks from the future." We'll give them an A for effort, even though it sounds like it should fail. Because of the cast, I'll watch it once.

Close to Home -- Does the phrase "Jerry Bruckheimer" really drive ratings? I can't believe it does. But why does every show that's produced by him mention his name, then? This show can be described as hot chick prosecutor blah blah single mother blah blah crime in the suburbs blah. I'm sure all the explosions and cops hanging from helicopters will distract us from the fact that it's been done better before.

Criminal Minds -- No, it's not abouta gang of really smart criminals, because that would be new and interesting. The ugly half of Dharma & Greg stars with noted showkiller and prescription drug advocate Mandy Patinkin and some other chick as FBI profilers. America hated this show when it was named Profiler. I say, give my Body of Evidence and that Dayle Hinman. She'd kick their you-know-whats, profilingly speaking.

The Ghost Whisperer -- Remember that movie, "The Sixth Sense"? Well, they've replaced that cute little kid with a hot girl and put it on TV! The famed Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as the Girl Who Can Talk to Ghosts, and the great Aisha Tyler's career continues its slow downward slide as she gets to play the token black friend, otherwise known as the "Francie." It's basically Alias only with ghosts instead of Rambaldi.

Out of Practice -- A very confusing premise involving a family of doctors who look down upon the one member of the family who's a psychiatrist. But of course, they may end up needing his help in the end. It's by the people who brought you Frasier, so you know they can do an upscale show involving psychiatrists. Also, it stars Henry Winkler. So why do I know I'm never going to watch it?

Threshold -- Because every network is required by law to have an alien show this year apparently, Carla Gugino stars as a hot girl who puts together an elite team to stop an alien invasion. It would be original, if every other network weren't doing it too. This one will be a hit solely because it's on CBS, the Network to Which America is Inexplicably Glued(TM).

FOX -- Arrested Development and the Rest

Reunion -- In this extremely high-concept drama, 6 people who graduated in 1986 are followed, one episode per year, until one murders another in 2005. That's more originality than the entire new ABC lineup combined. Sounds interesting. I may watch it.

Bones -- A hot "forensic anthropologist" (whatever that is) is called in whenever the FBI is having trouble with a badly decomposed body. By about week 5, I think the whole badly decomposed body thing is going to be old, and they'll have to trick it up somehow. In will come the vampires, and former Angel star David Boreantz will have to explain to the FBI why they see him as their leader. Now that would be an interesting show.

Prison Break -- A man breaks into prison to break his brother out. He's wearing Bad Idea Jeans the whole time he does this. The show has already premiered, and the premise is every bit as unrealistic as it sounds. I'm sorry that this show exists. Features a character named "Sucre," which is what I call the people who watch it.

The War at Home -- I've come to understand that Michael Rappaport is the most annoying actor working right now. He's the star of this show, so you know there will be a lot of unnecessary yelling and stereotypical New York Talk. He and his TV wife are the parents of three evil teen-agers, and that means this is just Roseanne without the charm or the fat people. And what's it doing on Fox Animated Sunday? Are they admitting that Mr. Rappaport is basically just a cartoon at this point?

Head Cases -- The "weird fish guy who moved in with Chandler on Friends" and Chris O' Donnell star in this lawyer show about a weird guy who hits people with law books. It's refreshing that both O' Donnell and Rachel Leigh Cook have taken time off from making bad movies to do this show. Let's hope it lasts a long time, so they can take a permanent hiatus.
Strangely enough, I might try this one. The book-slap drew me in.

Killer Instinct -- This show should have been kept under lock and key. I don't want to face the killer instinct, face it in you or me. This is one generic cop show that should have been kept on the shelf in a brown paper bag with stenciled black lettering. Seriously, where are the aliens? This is FOX, for pete's sake.

Up Next: Spare Networks, and "other."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Epth Nation Super Great 2005 Fall TV Preview

This year's crop of new shows is like one of those crops you get from a field -- we don't know how it will taste, but it sure looks average. What shows should you try? Which shows should you stay away from as if they were poisoned by bad pesticide? I don't know, and you should make these decisions for yourself. This isn't Russia.

First, the prospects for the returning shows I watch:
The Simpsons -- I caught the season premiere the other night, and it was kinda funny(but very surreal and "out there"). At 300+ episodes, they're really just recycling old plots for the 5th time now, so I don't know how much longer it can go. I guess as long as the ratings are high, the show will still exist. It's not like the show has jumped the shark, it's just that it's not fresh any more. They need to kill off another character. I nominate Lisa.

Alias -- Let me just say that I'm highly skeptical that Alias can pull off a season with Jennifer Garner pregnant and taking a reduced role in the show. Without her, it's just a bunch of scummy spies out there chasing after a 500-year-old inventor. Also disturbing are the rumblings I'm hearing about a couple members of the cast being written out of the show. I'm not going to spoil it for any viewers who don't wish to know, but it's common knowledge that at least one character is gone, and another is probably gone (unless it's all a pratical joke on Alias fans to keep them guessing, which would be brilliant). After last year's finale, it seemed impossible that this year could totally suck. They have possibly made the impossible possible now. I blame Ben Affleck.

Arrested Development -- Not only is Chachi taking over for Fonzi as the family lawyer (maybe they'll have some sort of "Charles in Charge" reunion tribute with Willie Aames, Nicole Eggert, that other chick, John Travolta's mom, and that guy who's dead now), but Charlize Theron will be guest starring! Of all the returning shows, I'm actually the most excited about this one. Starts next monday at 7pm real time (central time) -- if you're a Neilsen family, you better watch, or bad things may happen to you.

Survivor -- After last year's revival, they should have learned their lesson. They didn't. This show will suck this year. Bank on it.

The Office -- Universally recognized as having gotten better as the six-episode opening season progressed, this show gets a full season this year. It will be cancelled because of low ratings mid-season, but that's ok. We will still have Arrested. Maybe the girl who plays Pam (who is the Tito Horford of television -- tons of potential but never does anything with it) will actually show up and not sleep-act this year.

Medium, NBC -- Stars Patricia Arquette, who is simultaneously ugly and boring (least talented Arquette? That's saying something), as a "medium," which is evil, but this show claims she's good. I vow to only watch this show if the main character is killed off. Hey, they did it with "Valerie," which starred Jason Bateman of Arrested, which you should watch, if you're a Neilsen family.

After Freaks & Geeks, I feel like I have to take matters into my own hands when shows I really like are in danger of being cancelled. It's a very helpless feeling, this liking something whose fate is decided by faceless morons I don't know and snakes in suits who are just out to make a buck. I'm still shocked they didn't cancel Arrested this summer. Fox, I salute you for keeping a show on just because it wins Emmys.

NBC -- Remember when they were #1?
Surface -- A hot girl, a dude, and a little boy investigate strange goings-on in the sea. Is it the X-Files underwater? Seaquest DSV without Roy Scheider or a ship? V with fishes instead of lizards? Lost with people who aren't lost? Nobody knows. All I know is that this show features a government cover-up, and that's so 2003.

My Name is Earl -- Can a sitcom starring the great Jason Lee as a hick who wants to save himself by balancing his Karma be bad? Probably, if it also stars the criminally overrated Jaime Pressley. Still, at least this has the potential to deliver the goods, unlike...

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart -- noted inside trader and spoiled banshee Martha Stewart picks who gets to lick her boots clean every day. Normally, when you go to prison, the world forgets about you. With Martha, all the housefraus who loved her methods of making fantastic things out of common household items followed her every move within the penal system, making her an even bigger "star" than she was before. I still think the show will fail, because it's hard to imagine any man watching this, and that cuts out 49% of the potential audience before it starts.

E-Ring -- on the one hand, it stars Dennis Hopper and Benjamin Bratt (who I've always secretly thought was the best of the Law & Order former detectives), and it's about the Pentagon, which is at least kind of an interesting angle. On the other hand, it's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and it's named fricking "E-Ring," which sounds like either a horror movie or an internet gimmick. On balance, it will probably E-suck.

Inconceivable -- Isn't that a word that has been ruined by the guy in "The Princess Bride"? Can't we put it to rest? In my head, I keep pronouncing it "incontheivable." It's impossible to say without smiling. So, where does that leave this sexy new drama set in a fertility clinic that stars Ming-Na and Angie Harmon? Well, it's brought to you by the producers of Smallville, so if you like that crappy show, you might like this.

Why is Angie Harmon not back on L & O where she belongs? What has to be done to make that happen? Sam Waterston dressed in a tutu, begging? NBC needs to hook that up, and stop messing around with these other shows.

ABC -- Peter Jennings is dead.

Emily's Reasons Why Not -- Heather Graham stars as yet another of those mythical TV hot girls who has a hard time finding a man. The working title should have been, "You're f___ing Heather Graham, and could have any single man you want, so figure it the f___ out." At least, as the title suggests, the character's going to start using some discernment. My prediction: People will watch this show in droves, and it will become my nemesis.

What About Brian -- From what I can tell, this looks like a male version of Ally McBeal, only with no lawyers. Man likes his best friend's girl, man is 34 and single, man has a sister who's trying to have babies, man is boring and we have nothing to learn from him. That's pretty much it, except that it's from the producers of Alias, so there'll be a lot of talk of Rambaldi Boxes and Evil Dopplegangers and Zombie Nadia. Just kidding.

Commander in Chief -- Geena Davis as our most unlikely President, and Donald Sutherland as the scum who hates women and loves power. With a premise like that, the bad episodes practically write themselves! Mid-season they're going to bring in Heather Locklear as Sec. of State and have a presidential catfight. It'll be awesome.

-- In case you were wondering which network would be the first to give Freddie Prinze, Jr. his own sitcom to make up for the death of his father, the answer is ABC. Is there any wonder why ABC is trailing in the ratings? It's Freddie and a bunch of crazy women. America already rejected that when it was called The House of Yes. Eww, that's right, I went there.

Invasion -- One of the happy side-effects of shows like Lost being successful is networks will be temporarily willing to try dramas filled with long story arcs and weird crap going on again. This show is hurt by the fact that it's about the aftermath of a hurricane, and we watch TV to escape from reality. It could be good, though. I know I'll at least try it, which is more than I can say for most of the new fall TV shows.

Night Stalker -- Speaking of weird crap, ABC thought it would be a good time to remake the old TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker, starring Darrin McGavin. Does the world need this, and if it did, could they at least give Carl Kolchak a name that's a little easier to say? Oh, well -- at least it's not a reality show.

Hot Properties -- Because Sex and the City's departure has left a hole in our hearts, we need this show about 4 women dealing with men to fill us up again, America. It's strange, though -- I wouldn't think Nicole Sullivan from Mad TV would be good on a show like that. I guess we'll just have to trust that ABC knows what they're doing, since their instincts are so demonstrably good.
In other news, something's happened to Gail O' Grady so that she's now smokin'. We'll see if that saves this show.

And yes, I am still bitter over ABC's cancelling of Mulholland Drive in 2000 or whatever.

Next time: CBS -- Number One, and Not Just Among the Old.

That Last Post Was Nearly 4000 Words.

Sorry :0

It's worth it?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My Super Sweet Sixteen, Part 9 -- Amanda

My Super Sweet Sixteen, Part IX – Ashley, er, Amanda’s Rant

“I love money”

“My dad gives me whatever I want.”

“Right now the girls are hating on me, but that’s what I love.”

“He’s such a f___ing a___ole.” (referring to her dad)

“My Sweet Sixteen Party’s going to be the best party this town has ever seen.”

“Right now I wish I could f___ing punch you in the face.” (again, to her dad)

There are few terms I hate more than the recently minted word hater. It’s short for the 90’s invention player-hater, and it basically means “one who is derogatory toward someone who is successful at something scummy.” The word’s implication is that those who are haters are in fact just jealous and should be dismissed. Every time I hear it, I want to say,

“No, I’m not a hater. You’re just a horrible, horrible person who should not be doing whatever it is you’re successful at, whether that be waving money around, attracting golddiggers, simulating sex while dancing, wearing clown-like clothes, etc. If that makes me a hater, then why are you hating on my hate? You’re a hater-hater, fool!”

Look at that -- I just invented a new term. All these girls are hater-haters.

Which brings us to Amanda, the carbon-based teenage life form whose tiny brain formed those quotes with which I began this recap. The thing is, those quotes are pretty dang myopic/needlessly pugilistic/cocky/crass, but they don’t even scratch the surface of this 80’s-haired (put an aqua-net poof in the middle of her head, and she could have cheered at my high school) she-beast. She says some other things I can’t even imagine thinking, much less saying out loud.

Amanda’s quite a girl – she’s clearly stuck in that stage of development where you think the world revolves around you. Normally this goes away when one gets out of the crib and into social situations, but she just twists all social situations into being about her. And when they aren’t, she goes out and makes them be about her. It’s like she’s using her dad’s money to support her infantile illusion that she is in fact the most important person in the world. See what happens when you push self-esteem instead of intelligence in school? Amanda’s the poster child for a positive self-concept, but all that’s done is make her more bitchy. Think about that at your next school-board meeting.

We are first introduced to Amanda in one of those patented MTV-reality montages that compress a lot of information into just a few seconds of screen time. She introduces herself as a 15-year-old from Ocala, FL. She looks at least 18. In fact, she looks way older than those 18-year-old triplets from last week. She’s like a 2-year-old in an 18-year-old’s body. I guess that adds up to 15 somehow.

And her hair is trippin’ me out. She keeps looking at it lovingly, so I guess it’s supposed to be like that, but it needs some relaxer or something. Something to make it look less greasy.

This is the point of the episode where Amanda starts saying things that make you realize she’s one of those girls whose moral compass is upside down, so that north is south and east is west and bitchy is good and value is determined by how much money you have. She says: “I’m like the rich snobby girl in school that everyone wants to be.” Add an “a” and a “t” to the end of that, and she might be on to something. What this means is that she’s developed her “they’re just jealous” thinking to the point that she actually believes other people would like to be her. She doesn’t know this to be true (and how could she?), but she’s made it true in her own mind to advance the illusion that she’s the Most Important. This is truly fascinating. They show her doing things like cheerleading (big shock there) and riding an ATV (?), and she says, “I’m high maintenance, and I love money.” That’s something you tearfully admit to a friend or counselor when you’re having a breakthrough about your crappy life, not something you cockily admit to MTV’s cameras in an effort to seem cool. Then she follows that with this doozy, which makes me laugh out loud:

“People say it doesn’t buy happiness – I think it really helps.” I think she’s on to something here. She should write a book and get on Oprah. I think Oprah might even agree with her, in her darker moments. Amanda, of course, uses money to prove to herself that she’s the most important. Without her dad’s money, Amanda’s self-directed world would cease to exist. So for her, money does buy happiness in that it’s the thing that keeps her from becoming a real girl with real feelings. She’s like Pinocchio, only instead of a puppet, she’s a snob.

I wonder if it ever occurs to gold-digging girls that money is actually their weakness, and can be exploited by any old rich guy that comes along. See: Anna Nicole Smith and that one old guy. Amanda’s like a younger, uglier version of Anna Nicole. I’m sure she’ll soon be medicating to keep the myopic illusion alive. The more I think about it, the more I fear for Amanda’s life. See? We don’t want to be you. We pity you, Amanda.

Amanda shops for some $500 purses, saying, “You can never have enough purses,” which is going to be the title of the second chapter of her book. I guess if she had like a million purses she’d just roll around in them all day, because they’re all hers! Yay! And that would never get old, because Amanda isn’t smart enough to get bored.

Her dad is introduced next, and he is a real winner. As we first meet the man, he seems like your average nice, easy-going doormat of a dad, albeit one who dances with blonde girls half his age. He owns “the hottest nightclubs in Central Florida,” which is why he has all that money. Remember Natalie from season one? Her dad owned nightclubs, too. Owning a nightclub = wacky behavior and materialistic daughters, apparently. During MTV’s dad-montage, they show him not only dancing uber-inappropriately with hot young blonde girls, but also spotlighting (literally) his 15-year-old daughter as she sultrily jiggles around in his nightclub. This is where Amanda says, “He gives me whatever I want,” and I bet she told her dad to spotlight her, and he did. Dad doesn’t seem to notice what his only daughter has become, or he doesn’t care. But wait…

“I can’t stand when he tries to act like a parent, and tells me what to do.” This foreshadows the climax of the episode, so I won’t get into this here except to point out that again MTV has chosen a subject (like Sophie) where her single parent acts more like her single friend. Consequently, when the parent tries to discipline the subject, the spoiled girl reacts as if the world no longer makes sense.

Dad also has hired a bodyguard to watch (guard) Amanda when she’s out and about in the greater Florida area. This is a good idea, since Amanda looks like she’s 18, and is dumb as a box of hair. The bodyguard (BG) especially comes in handy when Amanda’s in one of dad’s clubs trying to attract attention from 21-year-old “boys,” or when dad hands the girl 2 grand and tells her to go buy something nice. I’m sure the fact that she has a BG just feeds Amanda’s view that she’s most important. I mean, how many 15-year-old girls have BG’s? For his part, the BG seems like a decent guy as he tells her to “stay away from that boy.” He clearly knows what jailbait is, and how every bone in Amanda’s body wants to be it.

This whole family has kind of a vague mafia vibe going on. There’s definitely an air of menace here. It makes one wonder if dad does anything besides just own nightclubs. I’m sure undercover police (the BG?) are looking into it.

Flash to boring, old Ocala, which Amanda says is “such a small town.” To illustrate this, they show a horse, a broken sign, and Amanda walking and telling her friend she hates it there. When the Ocala City Council heard that one of their town was going to be featured on MTV, I don’t think they were anticipating being trashed like this. I mean, sure, the median age is 39 and it’s quite poor, but there are 45,000 people living there! That doesn’t sound like “such a small town” to me. It also has some lovely horse farms (which is where the horse comes in), and Ocala National Forest, which Amanda probably isn’t interested in since it has nothing to do with money.

Now that the back-story is set up, we can get to the party. Amanda is planning her entrance to the Hawaiian-themed shindig, and she predictably tells her father that she wants “every single fricking light in the whole place” to be on her. She practices strutting in, and practices the crowd shouting her name in adoration. Seriously, people are cheering for Amanda inside her head. It’s more confirmation that she’s the Most Important. I’d better copy that phrase, since I know I’m going to need it again later.

Her and her dad also discuss the fact that they’re trying to get talentless R&B singer Ciara to perform at the party. Wouldn’t that make it a concert with a party attached? How will Amanda react to this, since Ciara would undoubtedly be the Most Important person there? Dad says, “Anybody who’s anybody knows, Ciara’s hot.” You’re right, those people out there who don’t listen to R&B simply don’t exist. Amanda predictably twists everything and says, “We have to get her…cuz I’m hot.” Amanda, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. In fact, this whole episode is just a way to promote Ciara on MTV. It has nothing to do with you, except to make fun of your selfishness as you provide a venue for a Ciara concert.

As Amanda hands out invitations, one of the kids tells MTV, “It’s probably the biggest thing to happen in Ocala.” They cut out the part where she’s actually talking about the Ciara concert. They then show some black students, who clearly are more into Ciara than Amanda. It’s a good thing Amanda’s clueless, because this whole episode is threatening to turn into something that’s not about her.

Amanda, 2 skanks, her mom, and the BG go to Miami (of course, they play that accursed “Velcome to Miami eeebee eeebee eee Meeyameee” Will Smith song in the background. Does Miami know that song sucks? Do Miamians cringe when they hear it? The mind boggles), where they do the ceremonial dress-shopping ritual common to all Sweet Sixteen episodes. Dad hands her a credit card and $2000 cash, and Amanda start to glow with power. She just got a power-up, Mario-style.

This whole dress scene is just a set-up, as none of the hooker dresses that Amanda tries on ever appear on her during the party. The important thing is that Amanda’s dad phones her, ominous music plays, but two seconds later we find out that Ciara has agreed to do the concert, er, party, and happy music plays! You can almost hear MTV’s guns being pointed and cocked at Ciara’s head as the phone call happens. Regardless, Amanda’s so happy right now. It’s more confirmation that she’s the Most Important.

You know, Amanda’s not really all that attractive. She’s kinda average and unspectacular. Especially the hair, which is long, wavy, and looks greasy all the time, apparently by design. I say that because Amanda and her dad next go to the hairdresser, who has what can only be described as a poofy white mohawk. Here’s a rule I’ve found helpful: When your hairdresser looks like the lost white member of “Ready for the World,” it’s time to get a new hairdresser. Oh, Oh Sheila, I highly doubt that a mall hairstylist is the “best in Central Florida,” as Amanda claims. She likes going there because she can “Stare at herself the whole time.” What teenage girl does that? She’s like the Wicked Witch from Snow White – “Mirror, mirror, on the wall” and so on. The sad part is she probably sees herself as Snow White in that scenario. She is, after all, the Most Important.

Dad then farts(!) and Amanda wishes out loud that she could F___ing punch him in the face. You know, just the normal fun conversation that a father and daughter would have at the mall. It gets better – Amanda’s pretending not to hear her dad, so he gets out some money and puts it in front of his mouth and asks, “Amanda, can you hear me now?” Nothing like mocking your only daughter on national TV for being a spoiled money-grubber. I guess we can now see where she gets her views re: money buying happiness from. Sheesh. I can’t even…I mean…this is so far out there I just don’t know what to say. Except maybe BE A PARENT, YOU PUTZ! GET THAT MONEY AWAY FROM YOUR FACE! After the brazen display of anti-parenting, Amanda admits that she can never stay mad at her dad for very long. Aww. She loves money more than she loves him, and they both know it. How cute.

We viewers get an extra bonus Sweet Sixteen party this episode! It’s for a relatively unimportant blonde-haired classmate of Amanda’s named “Katie.” Amanda and her unnamed brown-haired henchwoman we’ll call Grand Moff Skankin (GMS) drive to the ol’ costume shop to search for a way to upstage Katie, and boy do they ever find one. They go into the dressing rooms and come out in matching french maid costumes that look like hefty bags with some white lace on them. They are now literal slut bags. Is that all it takes to make a costume these days? The costumes are both tacky and skanky, and of course the MTV editors make them “sparkle” like they’re something good. Cynical MTV editors. Dad points out the inappropriateness of the costumes, and asks her if she would like it if somebody came to her party dressed like that. She says she’d be mad, but that she doesn’t care. Dad, dressed in a bright green Nike ensemble that includes a baseball-style cap, acts as though he doesn’t have the power to stop her from doing this. He’s like Commissioner Bud Selig, and Amanda is his tied All-Star Game. He’s like, “What can I do?”

Amanda is quoted at this point as saying, “If I want something I’m going to get it my way, so shut your mouth.” The thing is, all he has to say is “no.” She’s 15, and totally dependant on his money to keep her myopic illusion alive. Maybe if he puts the money back up by his face she’ll listen to him.

Amanda decides that she’s totally going to stand out at Katie’s party (of course, she doesn’t realize that standing out isn’t always the best thing. When did famous and infamous become identical? Stupid culture), and that “it’ll be awesome.” Dad gives her five sparkling $20 bills to give to the birthday girl Katie, and sarcastically suggests that she put a dollar in her garter to see how much money she’ll make. But seeing as how she is unfamiliar with sarcasm, and is always looking for a way to make money, she takes him seriously.

As Katie, GMS, and another unnamed and uncostumed tag-along are sitting in the limo, driving to poor Katie’s party. You can see the wheels spinning in Amanda’s head as she holds the $100 she’s supposed to give to Katie. $100 in her hand, and she doesn’t get to spend any of it. Isn’t she supposed to be the Most Important? But she can’t just steal it, right? Right? Right?!

She ends up coming up with this selfish Socrates-esqe “proof” for why she should steal $40 from Katie’s gift. Keep in mind that while she’s reasoning all this through, she looking at and talking directly to the person who holding the camera, as if to justify her repellent actions to him. She totally knows that what she is about to do is both wrong and socially unacceptable, and the camera’s steely eye is like the tell-tale heart that won’t stop beating for her. Her proof, as far as I could understand:

1) “My dad gave me $100, which is really nice, and I could be nice for once.” (she actually says this)

2) GMS: “It’s not like they give you awesome presents.” (she agrees)

3) “This is B.S. – I’m taking out 40 bucks.” (steals the money)

4) “I’d be happy with 60 bucks.” (her friends agree. The camera’s still staring at her accusingly.)

5) Some cheap people only give $20 – those scum! (this is classic, trying to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to someone lower. It’s Mussolini saying, “Hey – at least I wasn’t Hitler or Stalin!”)

The two girls get to Katie’s party (which seems to be getting along just fine without them, btw) and barge through the doors dressed in their slutbags. Amanda voices “When I walk through those doors, everyone is going to be staring at me, which I love.” People start to talk to themselves about how tacky and inappropriate Amanda and GMS are, and Amanda can sense it. She tells Katie’s mom, “People are like, (puts hand to face) heeheeheehee.” Katie’s mom tells her not to worry, her and Katie think the costumes are funny. This only makes sense if they’re afraid of her family, so here again I suspect that the mob is involved somehow. Otherwise, why would people not Katie bar the door when they saw the slut bags outside? Anyway, with that drama over, Amanda’s free to get attention from boys by club dancing. It’s at this point she gives the “girls are hating on me, but that’s what I love” quote. She clearly wants attention, and doesn’t even care if it’s negative or positive. She’s perfect for a career as a reality-TV fame-whore. I wonder if that’s what it said on the ASVAB test. Wait – she’s 15. She probably hasn’t taken it yet.

I also feel the need to point out that the slut bags showed up after Katie, which effectively upstaged her. They stole her money, upstaged her on her big day, and acted like they deserved to be thanked for it. Amanda is a horrible, horrible person, and I’m almost ready to stop this recap right now and pull over and slap that average-looking face right off her.

The rest of the episode deals with Amanda’s party, which I’m going to just gloss over because again, the episode is not about her. It’s about Ciara, and the MTV-sponsored concert she’s having. Ciara is shown getting her hair done with her peeps, and she keeps calling Amanda “Ashley” until one of them points out her error. Hee hee. Actually, Ciara comes off in this episode as really nice, sweet, composed, professional, and an odd combination of laid-back Christianity and whore-like dancing. I won’t comment any further except to say that I just don’t understand R&B. I don’t understand how you can offer a heartfelt prayer to God for a good concert and then go out and make your money by titillating boys aged 13-25 and making girls think that they need to titillate boys too. There seems to be a disconnect there, is all I’m saying. Other than that, Ciara was nice and didn’t seem to notice Amanda was a monster with 12 tentacles and fiery breath.

Amanda and another one of her henchwomen go out and try to sell tickets to the concert, er, party. I mention this because it again illustrates that Amanda’s party is about Ciara. Also, Amanda says, “I’m a business girl…I want money…I thought of this…props to me.” It’s nice that her love of money doesn’t stop at handouts from her dad. She’s going to go out and make her own!

Because this is getting long, I will just highlight the interesting parts of Amanda’s party:

1) Just after one of Ciara’s peeps hopefully muses that Amanda should come to the party in an “old school bus or car,” dad tells her that the limo’s air conditioning has gone out. Amanda ends up going to the party in the back of a “F___ing B.S. Acura.” That sound you just heard is Hart’s dad going into outraged convulsions.

2) As she’s getting ready, Amanda asks God to “let her be pretty today.” Way to bring God into it now, when you need lots of help. So typical. Another example of an Amanda prayer: “Lord, I thank you that I am not like those other people, the ones with less money.”

3) At some point, 3 band geeks come to the club where the party is and get Amanda to come outside, where they play “Happy Birthday” for her. MTV adds wind and jarring bird noises after they’re done, as Amanda pauses and doesn’t say anything. Finally, she lets them in, probably because it doesn’t cost her any money. Btw, the trombone girl is way cuter than Amanda.

4) The friend that was selling tickets with Amanda is wearing a coconut bra. While it is a “Hawaiian Party,” she’s what, 15? Yikes inappropriate.

During the party we get a disturbing view of her dad, and I don’t mean like with his pants around his ankles or something. He gets mad – like really mad. It happens when he wants Amanda to go up on stage for some reason, and she quite brattily wants to stay and dance with her friends, because it’s getting her some attention. They have a heated conversation, and dad walks away. He comes back, and he used the time away to get even madder. He tells her to “drop the attitude,” and she tells him, “Can you just leave, if you’re going to yell at me?” Oh, that we could all tell our parents that. He then pounds the table like a madman, telling her, “You’re going to regret every G__ D___ thing you’re saying!” which is totally something a mob boss would say to a member of the “family.” This gets her attention at least, and dad wins the battle of wills by basically being more of a baby than she is. She tells him to chill out and that she’s going to do it, and as they leave the room he yells, “THEN DO IT!” and slams the door behind her.

My verdict: I may be jumping the gun, but I believe there’s some sort of weird thing going on between dad and the rest of the family, including Amanda. It may be mafia-related, it may be something else, but daddy’s clearly got a temper. Maybe it’s the only way he can get his daughter to listen to him, but it’s still scary. Emotional abuse? Maybe. I don’t know. I just know I wouldn’t want to be around him, or her, or any of these people. Except possibly Ciara and the 3 Band Geeks.

As Ciara performs, Amanda says, “It was like she was performing for a princess (no, Amanda – princesses are good, and you’re evil). I know kids were jealous – I loved it!”

Once and always, it’s all about her. Get me out of here.

The party ends up costing $230,000, which is music to Amanda’s ears. Don’t get all happy, Amanda – I’m sure Ciara took a huge chunk of that home. Amanda closes the episode in the same way she started it – with a crazy, self-absorbed quote. She smiles and says, “No one’s ever going to top it…so try it, bitches!”

I’m so glad this is over. My neck is sore from shaking my head at her antics.

NEXT WEEK: These girls are like, “celebrities, but they’re just not famous.” Kill me now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Do You Feel Scared? I do.

I wasn't able (thankfully) to watch it, but the Packers lost to the woeful Detroit Lowenbraus 17-3 yesterday. The game was notable for many bad, bad reasons:
  1. Erstwhile QB Brett Favre was sacked 4 times -- I can't remember the last time that happened.
  2. He also didn't throw a TD pass, which has only happened once in like the past 10 years.
  3. The Packers scored just 3 points, which is their lowest point total since a 31-3 loss in Tampa in 1992, which interstingly enough was the game before the Brett Favre Era began. The Pack hasn't scored less than 6 points in a game in 13 years.
  4. It's the fricking Lions, for pete's sake. In gay uniforms.
  5. The 14 penalties they had were the most for a Packer team in 18 years. That team was coached by Forrest Gregg. It was a Bears game. Gregg hated the Bears, and instructed his players to cheap-shot them.
  6. Their top Wide Receiver, Javon Walker, injured his knee and will be out the rest of the season. He's probably wishing he would have held out.
I bet the Packers are glad they gave coach Mike Sherman a contract extension, eh? The only silver lining on this stinking death cloud is that it's just the first week, and crazy things tend to happen in the first week. Let's not go all crazy and plan what we're going to do with the first pick in the draft now.

Btw, the Viqueens and Bearssss also lost, so the week wasn't a total loss. That traitor Darren Sharper had an interception return for a touchdown, though, so maybe it was. Traitor.

Never, never trust a Minnesota Viking. I pick Daunte "The Butcher" Culpepper, and he forgets how to play football. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy they lost, but I need Daunte to stay away from the fumbling and the interception throwing. I mean, he scored 4 fantasy points -- a feat I didn't know was possible until this week. Sheesh. Kyle Orton scored more. Brett Favre had his worst week ever, and even he scored more. Trent fricking Dilfer scored more. I could go on and on about this. He better get this fixed, or I'm dead. He's my featured player. He's a stud. He's a fat, fat man.

Steve Smith was my best player by far. He was also the only one of my fantasy dudes who scored a touchdown. How pathetic is that? Still, I am at 1-1 after this week, because I played the guy who had Brett Favre. I could have started myself at QB and beaten him. In a 12-man league, all but 3 people scored more than me. It's truly is better to be lucky than good in Fantasy Deathball.

Two Sets of Joneses

My wife's going to like this. To illustrate the difference between the Federal Government and the Private Sector in terms of getting aid to people, I present to you the end of an MSNBC story (which they stole from the Washington Post):
Tale of two relief structures
For evacuees who have been struggling in the past week to get any kind of help from the federal government, the relative ease of getting the Red Cross to pay for hotel room charges is striking.

"I called the Red Cross and told them I may not be able to vacate my room before the 14 days run out, and they told me it would probably be extended," said Julie Burkhamer, 42, whose home in Mandeville, La., on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, was damaged in the storm.

She and her husband and their two cats and a dog are staying in a $100-a-night room at the La Quinta hotel in Lafayette. Their two weeks run out on Monday.

"Now, FEMA, that's a different story," Burkhamer said. "They haven't done jack squat. I contacted them by phone, and they said they would be back to me in two weeks. There is no one around here to see from FEMA. To get the Red Cross hotel coverage, I didn't have to do anything."

This is why all this talk of FEMA and Bush's dislike for black people and 50 billion in Federal Aid is misplaced. We should never expect the Federal Government to bail us out, protect us from hurrcanes, or efficiently act to help us in an emergency. It's never going to be able to do that, because it's a lumbering fat elephant of an animal that sits on problems to squash them in lieu of solving them. That's why the National Guard showed up at the Superdome with guns drawn, ready to shoot anybody who approached them. That's why the levee was being rebuilt before people were being evacuated. That's why it appeared as though GW Bush acted too late -- this is how the Federal Government does things! It's not that Bush doesn't care about the poor, it's that there are procedures that must be followed for the government to act. There are stories that the National Guard didn't come in until Friday because neither FEMA nor the State of Louisiana asked for them. It had nothing to do with them being in Iraq -- they were waiting to be asked! That's like, everybody's fault, isn't it? We knew from the news on Tuesday that it was hellish down there, but because of either bureaucratic carelessness or governmental confusion, things took three days to get done. That's why people who stayed down there because "we've been through these things before" and "if my house collapses I'm sure the government will help me" were fools. They still need help, but they were fools.

Thank God for the Red Cross and the hearts of people in this country, eh? Let's remember this the next time a crazy umbrella help bill makes is proposed by some well-meaning member of congress, shall we? Think about it: Do we really want these people running the health care system?

And now that I've used Hurricane Katrina to make a political point, I'll go take a shower.

Things Can Only Get Better

I'm coming back from my self-imposed little break, so expect things to come fast & furious on this blog for a while. I need to keep the 15-25 people who visit this thing every day happy, don't I? Of course, if there's too much stuff, you start to feel overwhelmed. I understand that. I also understand that most of you are probably skimming until you see a term that piques your interest, like "belly button" for example. Or, I could start putting things in bold again. See how this grabs your eyes? All your moms.

Oh, and Thursday is Fall Bigosporality Day, so don't forget to wear blue.