Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sidebar Update

Once again, I didn't realize how long it had been since my last Sidebar Update. Remember when this used to be a weekly feature of this blog? Yeah, neither do I. I'm just barely keeping it monthly at this point.

I actually enjoy doing these updates and making these posts (and I hope you do, too), but it's just so time-consuming. When I sit down to do this, I pretty much need to have two hours cleared to do it all -- determine which items get the honor, search for pictures, thumbnail them, transfer them to Photobucket, paste them into my template, think up amusing Easter egg comments for them, find appropriate links to go with them, write this accompanying post -- and remember, all of this is on dial-up. (Yes! I'm still a dinosaur!) Maybe some time I'll regain my inspiration to do this every week, but for now, once a month is all I can muster the strength for.

'Nuff said. Here we go!

This week's (month's) Object of My Affection is Arden Myrin. Don't recognize the name? She's currently the hot one on Mad TV. Still not ringing a bell? Well, I'll bet more than a few of you will remember her from this: she used to be Fred Savage's pixie-cute -- and possibly crazy -- co-worker Abby, on the sitcom Working. Yeaaah, that's right! Recognize her now? No? Ah, the hell with you.

Okay, I didn't recognize her either, at first. I caught a recent episode of Mad TV, for some reason, and instantly became smitten with her. She's the default babe character on that show, so no wonder. If you watch Mad TV and see a parody of Ghost Whisperer, in which all the ghosts can't stop ogling Jennifer Love Hewitt's boobs, that's Arden playing JLH. If you see a sketch about Terry Bradshaw and all the other Fox NFL anchors having schoolboy crushes on the vamping, giggling, pouting, teasing, booty-shaking "weather girl" Jillian Barberie, guess who's playing Jillian? (NO, not Aries Spears!) After the episode, I had the nagging feeling that I recognized that actress, and had to look her up on IMDb. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a fairly obscure, near decade-old TV infatuation of mine had resurfaced. Well played, Mad TV! And welcome back to infatuation-status, Arden!

Reading: Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, Something Fresh. The first of the Blandings Castle series, second in comic genius only to Bertie & Jeeves. I was actually reading this in line way back when I first applied to be on 1 Vs. 100. And, if you want to get technical about it, I finished it about two weeks ago. But I've gone back to reading the same book I was reading in my last update, The Book of Jhereg. (It does contain three whole novels, after all. I'm just starting the third.) And I didn't want to leave that picture up for a second update in a row. So, we get Plum's first Blandings book instead. And seriously, no disrespect intended to Steven Brust, but given the choice between the two, pick Wodehouse every time.

Watching: Usually I feature a DVD set here. I seem to have a never-ending supply of TV box sets. But instead I thought I'd throw up a picture of the last movie I saw in the theaters, Casino Royale. You know why? Because James Bond is frickin' cool. So there. On a related note, Eva Green was going to be my Object of Affection for this post, but I just thought that would be a little too obvious. She'll definitely appear, one of these days; I'll save her for when she's more of a surprise.

Listening: I put on the Barenaked Ladies Christmas album today, Barenaked for the Holidays. Yes, I'm getting a jump on Christmas, just like everyone else. At least I didn't start in October! Honestly, this album, as much as I generally love BNL, is fairly mediocre. But I hadn't listened to it since last year, and thought I'd give it a try today. Still didn't exactly overpower me with Christmas joy. But there are some nice bits in it, and they do throw in the "Batman smells" variation on "Jingle Bells," so that's nice. But all in all, I much prefer my man Bing Crosby's Christmas album. Mele Kalikimaka, bitches!

Hating: Taking the week off. In its place: Mourning. Last week, we lost Robert Altman, whom earlier this year I asserted was our greatest living director. Whether or not you agree with that lofty assessment, you have to agree (you have to, or I swear I will smack you) that his passing is a devastating loss to the world of cinema. He had some clinkers in his filmography -- I don't think there are many crusading defenders of Dr. T and the Women, or O.C. and Stiggs (other than Mikester, of course) -- but even his misfires had moments and images that could shock, dazzle, and awe you. Take Ready To Wear, for example, generally considered a messy failure -- but can you tell me you'll ever forget that striking scene in which the entire cadre of fashion models parades stark naked down the runway? The whole movie basically hinges on that bold, stunning moment, and it comes damn near to salvaging the morass that preceded it. But his successes far, far outstripped his flops. How many other directors can lay claim to an oeuvre as varied and brilliant as Altman's? Nashville, M*A*S*H, Gosford Park, The Player, The Long Goodbye, Short Cuts, California Split, HBO's Tanner '88, Popeye (YES, Popeye!), and his final film, the sweet, intimate, touching, uplifting paean to death, A Prairie Home Companion. Dude was making awesome films at the age of 80, with a replacement heart. That's badass. And I have yet to mention what I consider to be his greatest achievement, his masterpiece: McCabe & Mrs. Miller. This movie changed the way I look at films. It was a revelation, no less. It is sheerly beautiful, agonizingly heartbreaking. In another post immediately after talking about my favorite directors, I talked about my favorite movies, and I proclaimed this to be the third best movie I have ever seen. That hasn't changed. And when I'm naming Chinatown and Citizen Kane as the two movies that place ahead of it, you know I'm not fucking around.

I miss Robert Altman. It saddens me deeply to know that I can never again look forward to a new Altman film. Here's to you, old man.

Lyric of the Week comes from Dropkick Murphys. You may think you don't know them. If you've seen Scorsese's (who, by the way, not to be morbid or anything, now officially and unquestionably holds the title of the world's greatest living director) The Departed, you do. Their cover of Woody Guthrie's "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" is prominently featured in the film; if I recall correctly, it's during the car drive on the way to the exchange with the Chinese. Or possibly the car drive on the way to the big showdown at the construction site. It's during a car drive, in any case. Much of the Murphys' music could probably be classified as Irish jig meets punk rock. They're Boston Irish punks with Boston Irish pride, and they will rock your face off. The lyric is from "The Gauntlet," a defiant anthem from their fantastic Sing Loud, Sing Proud album.

That's it for this update. Hopefully I'll be able to shoehorn in another one some time before the new year!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yet Again Another 1 Vs. 100 Update

I realized I didn't tell you what happened when I went in for the taping of 1 Vs. 100 last week. Short answer: nothing much. They cut things short, and sent a bunch of us -- including me -- home before we could get into the game. Good news: they've called me back in, next Monday at 10:30AM. Again, there's still no guarantee I'll get on the show, but they did let me know that those of us who had been in once already would be top priority. So, cool.

I did get to see a lot of nifty behind-the-scenes stuff while I was there that I want to tell you all about. But they make any potential participants sign a pretty hefty nondisclosure agreement. If I eventually get on the show, I won't even be able to tell you if I won or lost before the show airs -- I think all I can tell you is when my episode would air.

It occurs to me that there are probably many of you who have never seen the show. (Hell, I even talked to people in line waiting to be on the show who had never seen it!) If you haven't, you should catch it when it returns this week -- 8PM Friday on NBC! Make sure to watch. We want the show to get good ratings, so I can have the best chance possible to make it on the air. Anyway, since I can't tell you about the behind-the-scenes stuff, I thought I'd give a quick description to the newbies among you of the show and how it works.

This game is simple. (That's the catchphrase they're pushing for host Bob Saget.) There's one main player, who is competing against one hundred other contestants. 1 vs. 100 -- get it?? A multiple choice question, worth a dollar amount ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, is asked. The 100 players, aka the Mob, have ten seconds to press a button corresponding to what they think is the correct answer, either A, B, or C. If a Mob member gets the wrong answer, he's eliminated. But before it's revealed who in the Mob was right and who was wrong, the 1 has to answer the same question. But he gets to take all the time he needs to think about it. If he gets the question right, he wins a dollar amount equal to the number of Mob members who got it wrong multiplied by the value of the question. For example, if 7 Mob members miss a $2,000 question, the 1 wins $14,000. If the 1 gets the question wrong, then all the money he's accumulated up to that point gets split up among the remaining Mob members.

A significant difference between 1 Vs. 100 and the similarly multiple choice question-themed Who Wants To Be a Millionaire is that the main player does not get to see the question before deciding whether or not to answer it. The 1 can walk away with whatever money he's won at any point before seeing the next question. But if the 1 decides to continue, and see the next question, he then must answer the question. It's too late to back out. If he misses it -- money gone. Game over.

The 1 does have assistance available. (Roger wanted me to explain this bit.) He can use one of his "helps" on any question. With one help, he can get more information about one of the possible answers. Say he wants more info on answer B. He is then shown how many people in the Mob chose B, and then he can pick out one of them to explain the reasoning behind their answer. The former is generally more helpful than the latter; it's less useful to hear one of the rabble clumsily (or falsely -- the Mob is allowed to be deceitful) explain his reasoning than to see that, say, 89 out of 100 people picked the answer, meaning it's likely to be right, or, conversely, to see that only 3 or 4 out of 100 picked the answer, meaning it's probably wrong.

With another help, two Mob members are singled out, one of whom picked the correct answer, and one of whom picked one of the incorrect answers. This automatically eliminates the remaining incorrect answer. Also, the 1 gets to hear the reasoning behind the answers from both members of the Mob. Again, the Mob members can be deceitful, which can make it difficult for the 1 to decide which one got the right answer.

There are some flaws with the gameplay, especially (from the POV of a Mob member hopeful) that the Mob almost never wins a significant amount of money -- or any money, period. It's too easy for the 1 to pile up some good money and walk away. Also, the gameplay can be slow. But Bob Saget is engaging and entertaining, and the questions, after the first couple easy ones, tend to hit that TV game show sweet spot of being challenging enough to the home viewer that they have to think about it a bit, but not so hard that it gets frustrating to play along. But I'd still watch it even if I weren't possibly going to be on it. In fact, I was watching it before I even heard about the contestant audition.

I'll let you know what I can about what happens after I return to the studio next Monday. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

POTPOURRI: Thanksgiving Vacation Edition

So here are some of the movies I watched over my Thanksgiving vacation.

Stranger Than Fiction: Loved it. Even more serious than I was expecting (and I was expecting fairly serious, not a laugh riot), but it had some definite humorous high points, and the drama worked very well. It's a very clever screenplay, but never in a showy way (such as, say, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I definitely thought was great, but which was very full of itself); it's all played very naturally. Will Ferrell is tremendous in it, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a delight. The scene where she bakes him cookies is wonderfully sweet and touching. I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction between Ferrell and Emma Thompson, as well as more with Thompson coping with the realization that through her words, she may have killed a number of innocent people. But in all, it's a small treasure, one which I would gladly have kept watching for another two hours.

Casino Royale: I liked this movie a great deal, too, but it could've definitely stood to be about a half hour shorter. I thought Daniel Craig was fantastic as Bond, I loved the nods to Bond history throughout ("Shaken or stirred?" "Do I look like I give a damn?"), loved Eva Green, who may very well be the sexiest woman in the world, and I really dug the action sequences, especially the parkour chase scene at the beginning (though the tension is diminished by the fact that we don't know why Bond is chasing the guy until it's all over). The movie kind of loses its focus at the end, especially in the way the supposedly main bad guy becomes irrelevant a half hour before the film is over, but the final line, and the classic James Bond theme playing over the credits, thrilled me no end. I can't wait for the next Bond entry starring Craig (which, I hope, will be a tighter film, what with Bond's origin having already been dealt with here).

American Dreamz: Very funny political satire that unfortunately got extremely short shrift at the box office. Hugh Grant and director Paul Weitz, who made the fantastic About a Boy together, reteam to only slightly lesser success here. Grant again plays a charming bastard, and Mandy Moore does a surprisingly terrific job as his soulless, ultra-devious, fame-hungry match. Dennis Quaid is also great, playing (basically) George W. Bush, but a more humanized version than the real thing, one whose intellectual curiosity has been awakened; Willem Dafoe plays his manipulative, happy pill-pushing Cheney substitute. The movie gets a bit ridiculous, with its showtune-filled terrorism plot (my favorite line: "They don't call me 'The Torturer' because I don't like to torture people"), but it's an intentional and very funny kind of ridiculous, one that works to great comic effect while managing to keep some real heart alive at the center of it all. Great rental.

A Christmas Story: Watched it yet again last night. Such a classic -- possibly ther best Christmas movie ever. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

And that's about it! Plus, I got to hear "Alice's Restaurant" on the radio on Thanksgiving Day. Twice! "And we was both jumping up and down yelling 'KILL, KILL,' and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, and said, 'You're our boy.'" You can't beat that. A good week for entertainment.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TV: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened

One last post before the Thanksgiving hiatus, and it's a cranky one. I was saving this post about O.J.'s TV special until November 26, the day before it was to air. But this news report [via] has rendered the post moot -- and has also made Rupert Murdoch look human for the first time since he poked fun of himself on The Simpsons.

But I can't bear to let such delicious vitriol go to waste, deleted and unseen. So, here you go: a now completely irrelevant spewing of rage. Enjoy!

On Monday, November 27, Fox will air the first of a two-part special called O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, in which Simpson "speculates" as to how he would have murdered his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her companion, Ronald Goldman, "if" he were the one responsible for those heinous crimes. By a remarkable coincidence, his interviewer, Judith Regan, is also the publisher of his new book, also called If I Did It, due to be released November 30.

First of all, that title is a grammatical mess. Try something like, Had I Done It, Here's How It Would Have Happened. The clause "Here's How It Happened" implies reality, not the "fictitious" version Simpson is relating. Because of course he didn't really do it!! A jury of idiots his peers found him not guilty and everything.

Secondly: I'm not advocating the murder of O.J. Simpson on the grounds that the continued existence of such a vicious, vile, repugnant, remorseless, worthless waste of skin is a detriment to humanity as a whole. I would never say anything like that. [EDIT: Although Salon would. Or pretty close to it, anyway.] And certainly, I am not saying that I, personally, desire to end his life. Saying such a thing, speculating on the method one would use to kill another human being, would be repellent beyond comprehension. But IF I DID IT, here's how it would go down:

I would flay him with barbed wire. I would salt his wounds. I would pry off his fingernails and toenails and I would crush his extremities. I would force his mouth open and burn his tongue to a charred ruin with a red hot poker. I would strangle him into unconsciousness, revive him, and do it again. And again, and again. I would break every bone in his body, one by one. But I would spare his eyes. Because at long, long last, I would eviscerate him, and burn his entrails right in front of his face, before crushing his skull with a hammer as the last remnants of his life slipped away.

But like I said, I would never, ever, ever consider doing or suggest someone else should do anything remotely like that. Because then how would O.J. find the real killers?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yet Another 1 Vs. 100 Update

The people at 1 Vs. 100 called me. That's good!

They didn't call me to be a contestant. That's bad!

They did call me to be part of the 100 (aka "the Mob")! That's good!

The Mob contains potassium benzoate.


That's bad.

So, here's the deal. Tomorrow at 1PM, I go down to the Culver Studios again, this time where they will be taping the actual show. I will be one of many, many potential Mob members there. If all goes well -- time and gameplay permitting, etc. -- I will be on 1 Vs. 100 as one of the 100 players in the Mob. Yay!

This is still not a guarantee I'll get on the show. Although I do know there are three call times for potential Mob members, and mine is the second, so that suggests, if they go in order, using up everyone for the first call time, then the second, then the third, I've got a pretty good shot. And of course, once I'm on the show, there's no guarantee I'll win anything. It's tough to win any money when you're in the Mob, and even when you do, it's not very much. The maximum ever won by a Mob member is around $6,000. But hey, that's six grand I don't have right now. I'll take it! Also, apparently the producers have been fine-tuning the show's rules, making it more difficult for the 1 to walk away with the money without risking it against the Mob. Which is also good news for me.

I'll give you more information when I can. I'll be gone tomorrow, and maybe -- if I get on the show, if I keep answering questions correctly, if they call me back -- Wednesday as well. And then of course Thursday is Turkey Day. So, in all likelihood, this'll be the last update until this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody, and wish me well. Come Thursday, I would like to be thankful for a buttload of free money!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

BOOKS: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

I've decided I have to read Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Not so much because this debut novel from Marisha Pessl has gotten great reviews and looks to be clever and funny and interesting, but mainly because, as discovered via the AV Club, the author is really, really cute:

Marisha Pessl knows being an author doesn't mean you have to neglect your hair care regimen

Sure, I'm aware that's a little sad. But hey, at least I'm reading!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

BOOKS: Top 50 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

It's list day! Apparently. Swiped from an entry on Monty's LJ, here, according to the Science Fiction Book Club, are the 50 Most Significant Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years. This is a bit old, so "the Last 50 Years" here encompasses 1953-2002. The books I've read are underlined.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

25 out of 50 books. (Well, more than 50 books, considering Lord of the Rings and Thomas Covenant, for example, are both trilogies -- as is, funnily enough, The Foundation Trilogy...) Half the list. Some would see that list and say, "That many?" I see that list and say, "That few?" Yes, I see it as half empty, not half full. So many books I still need to read!

Up first: Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, which Monty tells me is one of his favorites. (Although my friend Lew -- not so impressed.) I've owned the book for ages, but have never gotten around to reading it. Now's the time.

I've tried reading Mists of Avalon, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Ringworld at one time or another. They all bored me.

Also, for someone who's seen, like, 18 different "Director's Cuts" of Blade Runner, I can't believe I've never read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book on which it's based.

Sidenote: for twenty years or more -- ever since I have been aware of the book -- I thought it was called The Simarillion. Really? It's Silmarillion? With that extra "l" at the beginning? I have never, ever noticed that. Weird.

Friday, November 17, 2006

TV: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Okay, there's a whole, giant post I could write about how Studio 60 has, since its terrific pilot episode, systematically and increasingly irritated and alienated me in every way possible with each successive episode, to the point now that, where I was once ready to call it the best new show of the season, I am now convinced it is the worst new show of the season. This isn't that post. There's also another post that should be written, examining why I still seem to be watching it. (Why, for crying in the night, why??) That's not happening today, either.

Instead, I just want to ask two quick questions about last Monday's episode, "Nevada Day Part II." These are two things which, from this vantage point, don't make a lick of goddam sense. Not one god damned bit of sense at all. But maybe I missed something. Maybe I'm just dense. Maybe these were brilliant plot points that you can help me grok. Because as they stand, they just make me want to shout angrily at my TV. (More than usual.)

1. Why did the judge played by John Goodman let Tom and Simon go, again? Tom had a bracelet on his wrist that, what, identified himself as the brother of a soldier in Afghanistan? Or was it his brother's bracelet? A military ID bracelet? Does that even exist? Is that the new thing, instead of dogtags? And does that mean Tom's brother was killed in action? And what does this have to do with why Tom was speeding at 120 MPH? And why does this mean the judge also dropped Simon's felony possession charge? (Sorry, that was like a dozen questions, not one.)

2. What in the holy fuck was Harriet talking about at the end of the show? She's responding to Matt comparing the oppression of blacks with the oppression of gays. She denies that the two can be compared. And to prove her point, she says this:
Black people have been living openly for 400 years, gay people have only been living openly for 30 years.
What the? What does that even mean?!? Black people didn't exist more than 400 years ago? Or that black people somehow disguised their color throughout history? With masks, perhaps? Or makeup? Is she suggesting that blacks "living openly" began when Europeans started enslaving them and shipping them to North America? Also, is she saying no people ever identified themselves as gay prior to 1976? Or that fear and hatred of homosexuals didn't exist more than 30 years ago? Like, say, just throwing out one example off the top of my head, when Hitler persecuted them and forced them to wear pink triangles? Please, please, someone explain this to me. Because otherwise it would appear that Aaron Sorkin -- via one of his characters, speaking with 100% earnestness, as though she were saying something truthful and meaningful -- has authored the single most idiotic statement in the history of mankind.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

TV: 30 Rock

Tonight on 30 Rock, what was spoken:

Tracy Morgan: And the Friday after that, there's an orgy over at Elizabeth --

[Tina Fey interrupts him.]
And tonight on 30 Rock, what appeared when using closed captioning:

Tracy Morgan: And the Friday after that, there's an orgy over at Elizabeth Hasselbeck's.
Damn! Someone forgot to tell the closed captioners that NBC chickened out of making that joke.

By the way: loving the new Thursday sitcom block on NBC. My Name Is Earl, The Office, and 30 Rock, all with "super-sized" 40-minute episodes tonight. I haven't been so excited to watch two straight hours of sitcoms on NBC since The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court occupied this same timeslot, about 87 years ago. And with Scrubs joining the group soon, it gets even better. Wow, four great sitcoms on Thursday night. Is it the 20th century?

TV: Celebrity Week on Jeopardy!

I love Celebrity Week on Jeopardy!, which has been airing all this week (and part of last week and some of next week -- it's Celebrity Fortnight!), from Radio City Music Hall. It's fun to watch some of my favorite entertainers try their best in the event which could be retitled "Jeopardy! for Dumb Guys." I don't mean to take away anything from your win, Harry Shearer, but come on, those questions are easier than during Kids Week.

That said, I will admit I have a stronger rooting interest in Jeopardy!'s Celebrity Week than I do in baseball, football, basketball, or even the Olympics. USA, USA? -- Forget that! Neil Patrick Harris! Neil Patrick Harris! (Barney crushed the competition, in case you missed it.) And there's no way in hell I'm going to miss Dana Delany tonight!

When a celebrity I like and admire turns out to be good at Jeopardy!, it feels like a personal vindication. Their victory is my glory. A stranger whose acting I like did well at a trivia game, therefore my own value has been elevated. The mathematical expression for this would be:
Miguel Ferrer kicked ass on Celebrity Jeopardy!   ∴  I am awesome
(I just really wanted to use the mathematical symbol for "therefore" today. Hope it shows up for you.)

(EDIT: The symbol works on the preview for this post, but not on the actual blog -- at least, not on this computer. Maybe it's a browser thing. I'm going to leave it the way it is for now. Please let me know if you can see it or not. It's supposed to look like three dots in the shape of a triangle.)

Sometimes the celebrities pleasantly surprise me. My mind is still boggled by the fact that in 2001, Mike Piazza, who was once my favorite athlete (hell, he's probably still my favorite athlete, even though he hasn't played for the Dodgers since '98), pulled out an impressive win. Way to go, catcher-boy! And sometimes they disappoint me. This week, for example, I saw Soledad O'Brien compete. I've always had the impression I should be fond of her, but I'm not really sure why; it's like I had a subliminal crush on her, possibly absorbed from Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. I don't think I've ever watched her on CNN, but I still felt this unfocused obligation to think she's swell. No more. On Jeopardy!, she came across as a humorless, inattentive (nothing worse than the contestant who constantly has to be reminded, "Your turn to select"), uptight little prig. She was extremely unpleasant to watch. Not Nancy Grace unpleasant, but still.

Speaking of whom... negative rooting interests are twice as strong for me. It would've killed me if that heinous bitch Nancy Grace had won. If that meant I had to root for Regis Philbin instead -- so be it! (And Reege won!) I need to watch Friday's show specifically to root against Mario Cantone. God, that guy irritates me. But who am I going to root for against him? Martin Short? The two of them are going to be straining to top one another all night. What a chore that should be. Guess it's Joely Fisher for me!

Celebrity Week continues through next Tuesday. Be sure to tune in; your personal self-worth depends on how well your favorite Law & Order franchise actor does. (Hint: pick Christopher Meloni.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

MUSIC: Aimee Mann, Lost In Space

Last night, I discovered that the only CD I owned that I hadn't copied onto my computer was Aimee Mann's Lost In Space. I wondered how in the world I could've overlooked it.

Then I ripped it, and listened to it, and realized: oh yeah, it's really, really boring.

Hey, you want insightful music reviews, go read the AV Club. They liked it. Me, I'll stick with I'm With Stupid.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

1 Vs. 100 Part... 4, is it now?

So, last Wednesday, I went down to the Culver Studios in Culver City for my call back audition to be a contestant on 1 Vs. 100. (Everybody watched it Friday night, right? We want to keep the ratings up so that I get a chance to be on the show!)

The drama started early. I slept at my mother's house in Simi Valley, which is over an hour closer to where I needed to be than my place. The alarm clock in her spare room: not the best. You know how most alarm clocks have a push button for Snooze that you can just slap without looking at to get your extra ten minutes, but to actually turn off the alarm, there's a toggle switch you need to be awake and aware enough to trigger? Yeah, well on this clock, the Off button and the Snooze button are both push buttons, and both feel exactly the same when you're 3/4 asleep. Yes, I accidentally turned off the alarm clock when I only meant to Snooze. An hour and a half later, I discovered my mistake. Man, that'll get your heart pumping.

Good thing I had set the alarm really, really early in the first place. I'd been hoping to leave for Culver two hours before I needed to be there; from Simi, it should only be about a thirty or forty minute trip, so I was planning on bringing a book and having time to kill. Instead, I wound up leaving about an hour before I needed to be there. And, of course, I hit some hardcore traffic on the 405. The stop-and-go, one-mile-every-five-minutes kind of traffic. For a while, I was afraid I had run into a back-up caused by Bruce Willis' new Die Hard movie; filming has shut down freeways all around the area at random times during the past week or two. But fortunately, I was through the worst of the traffic before too long. Unfortunately, it was long enough to put me in extreme danger of missing the 11:00 audition time.

I hit the parking garage near the studio in a near panic, parked, and raced down to the studio driveway. But there was a long line still waiting outside where I needed to go, which was a big relief.

While waiting in line, I spent some time chatting with another hopeful, a dapper dude named Kwame who was dressed in the sharpest suit: black with pinstripes, bright white shirt and shoes, pink tie. Very retro-stylish. He looked like he was about to do the jitterbug. Myself, I was in nice black slacks, blue dress shirt, paisley tie. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I was looking damn spiffy. Toot!

A bunch of other people in line seemed not to have read the call-back form, specifically the part saying: "This will be a taped audition so please come camera ready. Dress as you would if you were actually on the show." Either they didn't read it, or didn't care. Because these were some sloppy looking folks. There were men in ratty T-shirts and jeans, there were women in sweat suits. People! You're trying to make a good impression. Put on a button-up shirt or a dress, for god's sake! Try not to look like you're picking up a case of beer at Wal-Mart. Is the opportunity to take a shot at a million dollars really not worth enough to you to buy or borrow a tie and learn how to tie it? There were only two people in the entire line wearing full suits (which becomes significant later), and other than me, there were maybe a half dozen men wearing a tie.

Soon, one of the casting assistants led us onto the lot and into a soundstage. I've never been inside a movie soundstage before. They're frickin' huge. There were several long rows of tables waiting for us, and we filed in and sat down. There were maybe 120 people in total, maybe more; others kept showing up later. On the tables in front of us were three cardboard cards hooked to a ring; they read A, B, and C.

After everyone had settled down, the casting people began reading out names and calling people over to the side. I figured this was a good thing, so I was thrilled when they called my name. My name got a nice reaction, as it usually does. "Tom Collins? I could use one of those." "I'd rather have a Captain Morgan." Et cetera. Joke away, people, it just means I'm sticking in your minds.

After a number of people had been called to the side -- I didn't count, but I think it was between thirty and forty -- they gave us all little green dot stickers to wear on our shirts, and then they had the rest of the crowd clear out the first two rows of tables for us. Another good sign. We were going to the head of the class. My new buddy Kwame was up there with me.

The executive producer of the show introduced himself, and explained what we'd be doing. A few people from the crowd would be picked and taken off the stage. The rest of us would act as the Mob for a fake game of 1 Vs. 100. One of the casting people picked two contestants; the first was Kwame. He scanned the crowd a bit longer, then pointed to a guy a few rows back, who was also wearing a suit. "We'll take the two people wearing suits," the casting guy said. See? Presentation is important! Too bad I didn't wear my suit jacket.

After those two had been taken out of the room, all of the rest of us had to stand. On a projection screen in front of us, the game questions were displayed, along with the multiple choice answers. We'd then use our ring of cards to pick the letter of the answer we thought was correct. Whoever held up the wrong letter had to sit down.

Again, I'm not going to tell you exactly what the questions were (though I'm dying to tell you at least a couple). But I will tell you that as people kept getting eliminated, I kept standing, until there were only eight people left, including me. I have to imagine it looked good to the producers to be one of those people. Sadly, the next question knocked me out, along with five others, leaving only two standing; the next question knocked both of them out, which is where we stopped. The casting people then brought in Kwame to play the game.

He stood in front of the crowd, behind a little wood podium rigged to look like the answer podium on the real show. After going through the preliminaries -- the casting agent playing host informing us of the rules, Kwame introducing himself -- we got down to playing the game. Again, all of the Mob had to stand, but this time we would not be holding up the cards. The contestant would be asked the same questions the Mob had just been asked. After each question, whoever in the Mob had originally gotten the answer wrong would have to sit, and on the projection screen, we'd see a display of how many people had been knocked out, and how much money this meant Kwame would have won.

Sadly, Kwame's game did not last long. He was eliminated on the second question. He didn't even use one of his lifelines (or "helps," as they are known on this show). Personally, I thought it was a pretty easy question, but an awful lot of people in the Mob missed it, too. Oh, well.

The next guy in a suit was called in. The game continued from the point where Kwame had been knocked out. The new guy only made it through two questions, too. I think -- did he miss on his first question? He might have; I'm not sure now. Anyway, it was a lot quicker than the producers had counted on, I'm guessing. Fortunately, they had another person set aside to act as a contestant, a bouncy, lovely young lady who had shown up a bit late. The host was very happy to see her, as were most of us guys.

Turns out she was a smart cookie; she plowed right through those questions. My favorite bit was when she decided to ask the Mob for help. As the host explained what that meant, the executive producer came up to me and asked me what answer I had given. I had given the correct answer. He said, "You'll be her help." SWEET.

The help she chose was the one where two Mob members are selected, one who has picked the correct answer and one who has picked the incorrect one. They then both explain the reasoning behind their choices to the contestant, who decides which is more plausible. When it was my turn, I again got nice recognition from my name, then gave the story behind my answer. After hearing both of us, the host asked the contestant what she thought. Indicating me: "You could go with the guy who picked answer C -- look at him, he looks pretty smart, with his glasses and beard." Yay, beard! Glad I didn't shave it. (My mother tried to convince me that I should shave because the show was prejudiced against people with beards. I was of the opposite opinion: that it would make me stand out. Nice try, mom!) Anyhoo, the contestant went with me and was, of course, correct to do so.

She kept going and going, finally getting to the last question. The two people left in the Mob had each picked one of the incorrect answers. The contestant picked the correct answer, which meant she had defeated the entire Mob. She won a million make believe dollars! Hooray!! Oh, the thrill of it all.

So! After the game had been run through, the lead casting agent had people in the crowd introduce themselves, as they would if they were on the show. He started with the back row, then worked his way forward until he came to the first person with a green dot. "We'll stop there," he said. This surprised us green dot people a bit. He then sent everyone else in the crowd home, saying, "The people with green dots are the ones who did especially poorly on the written test. They're going to stay behind and retake the test."

They gave us green dots a brief break then, and as we milled about outside, I chatted with another green dot. We tried to turn this disappointing information into a positive. "Well, it must mean that they liked our interviews enough to want to keep us around for a second chance."

When we returned to the soundstage, the casting people had set up a video camera and a microphone at the front of the tables. The casting lead addressed us again. "I lied," he said. "Those of you left did especially well on your written tests. You are now going to do a camera test." That led to some greatly relieved cheering on our part. Whew! I knew I nailed that test, dammit!

One by one, we went up to the front and stood behind the answer podium, and with the camera rolling, we introduced ourselves to the host: name, age, home, job. We then were given a single question to answer, and were told we had $100,000 riding on the outcome. It didn't really matter if we got it right or not (though surely it was better to get it right); what mattered was how we reacted, how we reasoned out the question, whether we had any personality.

When it was my turn, I killed again with my cheesy line, "Tom Collins -- same name as the drink, but twice as intoxicating." Man, I love my name. Then the question. I really want to tell you what it was. Most of the questions asked of other people, I knew the answer or at least had a relatively good guess at it. This one, I was floating. I could eliminate one answer, but had no idea which of the other two was right. I talked out my thought process, and I wound up giving a good reason to pick what turned out to be the correct answer -- but then I talked myself out of it and picked the wrong answer. D'oh!! Oh well. Again, they didn't care if you got it right or wrong, they were just judging how you played the game on camera. I think I did pretty well.

After he'd gone through most of us green dots, the casting lead was informed by one of the assistants that time was running short -- a new group was coming in at 2PM. (Or maybe 2:30; I think it was already past 2 at that point.) The lead cut things short, and all the green dots who hadn't gotten a shot on camera (there were only a handful), he sent home. Ouch! Guess they were calling people up in the order of their interest. I was in the lower middle of the pack. But hey, at least I got my shot.

Then the lead started pointing at other people and dismissing them. It was rapid-fire and thoroughly intimidating. Point -- "You're free to go." Point -- "You're free to go." One after another after another, he thinned out the crowd. He turned over to my end of the tables, and I braced myself. "You're free to go. You're free to go." It took me a second to be sure, but... he wasn't talking to me. He was talking to the person on my left, and the person on my right. I got to stay. I made the final cut!

There were only 12 of us left at the end of it. Kwame was one; the lovely fake millionaire was another. The lucky dozen were led out of the soundstage and into a trailer to sit and wait for the next, and last, part: individual camera interviews.

As we waited, a casting assistant would come and take one or two of us at a time to the interview rooms. After about six had already been taken, the casting assistant came back and looked at us. "Okay, this time, whoever can answer this question gets to go next." We all prepared to pounce. "Who... created... Batman?"

The others never even had a chance. "Bob Kane," I said almost before he could finish. He was duly pleased and impressed. He was a comic book fan, too! Very cool. And good for me.

He led me off to the interview area. I waited outside with yet another casting assistant, a young woman who was the definition of adorable. She filled out a sign that I would be holding up for the camera, complete with my name, phone number, and number of questions I answered correctly on the written test. I finally got to see my result: 23 out of 30. I looked at the stack of applications she had, showing other people's test results -- 19s, 20s, a 21, but nothing higher. "I guess 23 is pretty good," I said. "It's very good," she replied. Yay me!

And finally, I got called into the interview room. Miss Adorable positioned me in front of the camera with my sign and departed. I was left with yet another casting person, who was behind the camera, looking at my application. He had me introduce myself, and I left out the cheesy line about my name this time. I don't know why; maybe because I had just used it so recently. I should've used it again for this new stage of the process. It was a sign of my nervousness returning. I had done well to keep my stage fright in check through the whole day, but this part, with the casting guy telling me to look directly into the camera, not at him... that started unnerving me a bit.

He then asked me a comic book question. I can't recall if I specifically mentioned comics on my application, or if the "Bob Kane" casting guy had tipped him off, or if this was even a carry-over from the first audition at the Shrine, where I told the person there that comic books were my hobby. Whatever it was, he had a pretty decent question prepared: "In which comic book did the Punisher first appear?"

I actually blanked for a second, then fortunately it rushed back. "That would be Spider-Man," I said. "Right, Amazing Spider-Man," he mildly corrected my abbreviation of the title; "which issue?"

"Which issue?" Damn. I took a stab. "I'm not sure exactly, but I'd say around #121." "Close enough," he said. I looked it up later -- it was #129. That was close! I'm nerdily proud of that.

He then asked about the pub trivia contests that I'd mentioned on my application, and I did my best to explain them. He followed up by asking about my "embarrassing" story, which was about almost getting kicked out of Knott's Berry Farm as a child for stealing a pistol from one of the cowboy train robbers during one of their shows. I told it fairly well, I guess, but it's kind of a lame story to begin with, and the casting guy seemed to have no reaction to it. And -- that was it! I was done, and it was time to go!

The casting lead told us that they'd begin making calls to contestants starting Monday -- yesterday. He also said that it could take up to two months to hear anything. And that if we didn't hear within two months, we almost certainly never would.

I'm still guardedly optimistic about getting a call. I made it all the way to the very, very end of the casting process, and I know I kicked ass on my written test. Plus, the name -- that's gotta be working for me. I guarantee, if I were named John Smith, I would not have made it to the final 12. But I'm not wild about that final camera interview. I'm hoping it wasn't as bad as it felt inside my head, or that if it was, how I performed through the rest of the process will carry the day for me.

No call for me on Monday, but my hopes are still high. I think this might really happen! I'll keep you posted, of course. Keep sending good thoughts my way!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

1 Vs. 100 Update

A brief update on my attempt to be a contestant on 1 Vs. 100.

I went down to the studio Wednesday morning for the call-back audition. There were about 150 people there. The casting people kept 12 candidates till the very, very end, about 5 hours later. I was one of them.


This in no way guarantees I'll be on the show. But I'm very hopeful! They start calling people to let them know if they'll be on the show on Monday. But it could take up to two months to hear from them. So, who knows? I'll definitely keep updating you as I find out.

More details later. Keep wishing me luck, peoples!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Awe--wait for it--some.

Another reason why How I Met Your Mother is so fantastic: in Barney's blog entry for last night's episode, the joke about Barney's name continues (on the show, Ted and Marshall began calling Barney "Swarley;" Barney tried to pretend he liked the new nickname in order to make them stop using it).

But they go that extra step into genius. "Y not check out SWARLEY.COM," Barney's blog entry asks. Well, go ahead and check it out: They actually created a new website to play off a single-episode joke. I love that! That is tremendous. Great use of the internet. Great sitcom, having a great second season.

By the way, Neil Patrick Harris is gay. Have you heard? From, like, every website in the world? Net change that knowledge makes in the enjoyment of the character of Barney, and How I Met Your Mother in general: none. Barney rules. Suit up!

Monday, November 06, 2006

1 Vs. 100 Part 2

On Saturday morning, I went down to the Shrine Expo Center in downtown L.A. to audition to be a contestant on Deal Or No Deal and/or 1 Vs. 100. Well, that's not exactly true. I went down to audition to be a contestant on 1 Vs. 100. Deal Or No Deal just happened to be part of the package, since the two shows share the same producers. I've got nothing against Deal Or No Deal; I've said before how hypnotic it can be in its sheer simplicity. Pick a number between 1 and 26! It's just that I know that I'm not the ideal Deal contestant. I'm not much of a woohooer.

The audition was set to take place between 10 AM and 1 PM. I showed up a little after 8. There was already a line down the block and around the corner. Yikes. In fact, in front of the entrance, I could see chaise lounges unfolded, indicating people had actually camped out for this. Double yikes.

Entering the parking lot ($10! Cheap!), I was stuck behind a very dumb woman. I call her that because as she was trying to enter the lot, someone was trying to exit. So she backed her car up -- directly into mine. I saw her shifting into reverse, and I laid full on the horn for a good three to five seconds -- no use. She never looked behind her, and she never slowed down. Just SMACK, right into my fender. Good start to the morning! There was no damage, and the woman was very apologetic, but if there is any justice, I will not be seeing her on a game show anytime soon.

Walking from the parking lot to the end of the line, I could see that most of the people in line -- I'm guesstimating around 80% -- were obviously there for Deal. They carried plastic briefcases with numbers on them. They wore T-shirts that said "NO DEAL HOWIE" or "BOO TO THE BANKER". They carried signs and other displays. One guy had a full-size Darth Vader cutout with a yellow cape on it. Why? You got me. But all this made me very optimistic about my chances for 1 Vs. 100.

At the end of the line, there were staff people handing out questionnaires (and pens, fortunately). I had to answer such questions as "Tell an embarrassing story about yourself," or "Name something interesting about yourself that people can't tell just by looking at you." (Neither of which is technically a question, actually.) I'll spare you my responses, by which I mean: I don't feel like telling them to you. A longer version of the questionnaire, if you're interested, can be found here.

It took a long time to come up with hopefully clever, original, memorably funny answers for everything (okay, I'll tell you one: for "How many other people live in your house?" I said, "Do the people on TV count? No? Then nobody"), and by then the line started moving -- a little early, actually; it was maybe 9:30, rather than 10 AM. Which was probably necessitated by the gigantic turnout; by that time, the line had gone down the block again, around another corner, and nearly all the way down that block. If they hadn't started letting people inside, the end of the line might have circled all the way back to the beginning.

Inside, the convention floor was roped off to create a giant winding line. I felt like I was waiting for Space Mountain. The space inside was fairly huge; I'd say there must have been a thousand people in that line at any given time. And that's not counting how ever many hundreds or thousands more were still outside, and yet to even show up.

There were several staffers for the show looking down at us over the railings from the floor above. They were obviously scanning the crowd for the most enthusiastic, immediately interesting or eye-catching people for future reference. One guy even had a video camera. The crowd went into shrieking convulsions every time the camera turned their way, or every time one of the staffers encouraged them with a look or a wave. Lots of screaming and hand-waving and woohooing. Again I tell you: I am not a woohooer. I tried for a little bit, but eventually I resigned myself to the fact that try as I might, I could not be that person. I went back to reading my book, while the masses erupted around me. (P.G. Wodehouse, Something Fresh. In case you were wondering.)

One of the staffers took a microphone and explained what we'd be doing. Ten people at a time, we'd be let upstairs, where ten interviewers were waiting for us. In groups, we'd go over to one of the interviewers, and we'd have exactly thirty seconds to talk about ourselves and sell ourselves as good potential contestants. He told us to smile, he told us not to mumble, he told us to only talk about interesting things. And about here is when I started to sweat. I am not a confident public speaker; I don't do well when meeting new people. I am awkward and nervous. I get stage fright. The last time I tried out for something like this, which was for Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, they had had a written test first (which I passed easily), then personal interviews. (Which I bombed at.) I'd been expecting the same order of things here. Finding out the interviews were up first, decreasing my prep time, sent shivers up and down my spine.

So I started working on my spiel. The thirty second hard sell. Product: me. I thought about little else for the next hour and a half, which is how long it took me to get to the front of the line. It was an agonizing hour and a half, let me tell you.

Oh, I forgot to mention the line-cutter. After waiting outside for ninety minutes or so, as I finally approached the entrance of the building, this weaselly little character wandered over from a parking lot and inserted himself into the line right in front of me. I promptly moved back in front of him -- you want to cut in line, you can do it behind me, buster. But once we were inside, this guy kept pushing forward in the line, edging past both me and the guy I'd been standing behind all morning. I thought of calling someone over to get him ejected, but I decided I'd rather not be the center of a scene, and concentrated on my pitch instead.

When we were allowed upstairs, the weasel was directly in front of me. We were separated into small groups to await our interviews; again, he was directly in front of me. I tried to ignore him, and psych myself up for the hard part ahead.

Finally our group got called forward to the interviewer behind table #2. I tried to shake the guy's hand, but he gave me a fist bump instead, like Howie Mandel does on Deal. He had us put our applications on the table in front of us, and he reminded us once again of the thirty seconds we would have. Then he turned to Mr. Weasel: "Go!"

And to my great delight, the weasel did everything the guy downstairs had warned us not to. He didn't smile. He mumbled. He talked about his tremendously uninteresting job. He choked, big time. Sweet! But I didn't have much time to rejoice. The interviewer turned to me: "Go!"

Here is approximately what I said. (You will have to imagine the barely concealed shaking hands and the voice on the verge of shuddering in terror.) "My name is Tom Collins," I opened clearly and boldly, as I knew I would have to: situations exactly like this are where having a unique name comes in most useful. I saw the guy grin in recognition, and so I carried on with the cheesy second part of the line: "Same name as the drink, but twice as intoxicating." Yes, I said it, damn you! And it worked. So there. I continued, throwing all modesty to the wind in favor of humor: "I'm smart, I'm funny, and I'm damn good looking -- obviously. Which is great TV right there." Groan if you will, but it was doing the job. "I'm a trivia fanatic," I said, because I wanted to emphasize I was leaning toward 1 Vs. 100 rather than Deal Or No Deal without stating outright, Please pick me for 1 Vs. 100. "I have a head full of useless junk -- I just need an outlet for it." (Selling it!) And I finished with a trio of goofy tidbits I'd included on my application: "I was once this close to being in the Guinness Book of World Records; I'm two degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon; and I can do a killer Kermit the Frog impression." And that was my thirty seconds!

I knew I had done a good job when other people in the group referred back to me. One guy said his name, then added, "which is not an alcoholic drink, as far as I know." I would have grinned even bigger than I already was if I weren't in agony. I had tensed up so much during my pitch that my back muscles were one big, painful knot. I could barely move for about a full minute. But it was a good pain -- I got through the thirty seconds!

After everyone finished their bits, the interviewer picked up a few applications off the table and put them in a box behind him. "If I pick up your application, you're free to go." He picked up the weasel's application first. Haw-haw! But get the gall on this guy -- he wanders off a couple of steps, then comes back to the table, as if he hadn't left at all!

By that time, the interviewer was asking a follow-up question to those remaining. I believe the first follow-up was, "What will you do if you win a million dollars?" He asked me first, and I already had my joke prepared for this one. "I'm going to build a Doomsday Device inside an active volcano, like a James Bond villain. Either that, or buy a pub in Ireland. I haven't decided yet." That got laughs mixed with curious looks, but I figured any kind of memorable answer has to be good. And when someone else responded to it once again ("I'm moving to the other side of the world from that guy!"), I knew I was doing well.

The interviewer handed out tags with a big M on them to some people at that point, and sent them off to the next stage. A few people, like me, he held back to ask another question. This one was about hobbies. He started on the other side of the table from me. This was when the weasel came back to the table. He butted in next to me, and asked me what the question was. The interviewer saw him, and said, "You're free to go home now." The guy finally got the message, and slunk away. So long, line-jumping weasel!

For the hobbies question, I answered, "I have about 2,000 comic books, which means I have about zero friends." I know, I know: BOO!! HISS!! I played right into the geek stereotype about comic book fans for a cheap laugh. So sue me -- it got the laugh, as I knew it would. But I solemnly promise, if I actually get on TV, I will not use that line.

The interviewer gave two of us a tag marked B, and sent us on our way to the next part. He kept one woman behind, to ask even more questions; I found out later that the potential Deal contestants went through the most extensive grilling.

So I and the other guy with a B tag went on to the next line. We had our pictures taken and stapled to our applications, and we were given an "Answer Sheet," with 30 blanks on it. We were going on to the written test!

We got downstairs, about twenty or thirty of us, and we sat down at tables with a test booklet face down in front of us. Nearby, there was a much larger group taking the test; these were the people with M tags. And it was here I had a revelation about the tags. I knew the M and B people were taking written tests, so we were obviously in consideration for 1 Vs. 100. And the people with the third kind of tag, with an H, had gone into a separate area, obviously for Deal Or No Deal. And I let the other people at the table know what this must mean: the M tags stand for Mob; these people were testing to be in the 100 part of 1 Vs. 100. The H tags stand for -- wait for it -- Howie. The host of Deal. Which meant the B tags must stand for Bob. As in Bob Saget, host of 1 Vs. 100. Which meant we were taking the test to be the 1 -- the contestant who actually interacts with Bob, and has the real opportunity to win big money. OH HELL YEAH!!

I took the test, and I'll say no more about it, because I'd probably get in trouble if I revealed any of the questions or answers, other than: I passed. You better believe I passed! Which means that this Wednesday morning, I'll be at the TV studio in Culver City, meeting the producers of 1 Vs. 100, taking a camera test, and seeing if I can hold my nervousness in check long enough to pass this final stage, and get on the show.

This could be big, people. This could be very, very big. I'm nervous as hell, but I'm crazy excited, too. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

1 Vs. 100

Hey all.

So, guess what I did today? I went down to L.A. to the audition for Deal Or No Deal or 1 Vs. 100 contestants.

Short story: I passed this first stage. For 1 Vs. 100. And it's to be the 1, not part of the Mob (which I guess will only make sense to you if you've actually seen the show).

There's still another hoop to jump through; on Wednesday, I have to go to the actual TV studio in Culver City, and meet the producers, and do an on-camera test (which is like a fake run-through of the game, apparently). But just passing this first stage, with the interview and the written test, is a pretty frickin' huge deal. I'm walking on air, y'all.

I'll go into more detail when I have time tomorrow. That's all for now!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A day late for this Halloween season-appropriate observation, but oh well

Every time I hear a commercial referring to Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, I always think, "That's not a very nice thing to say about Helena Bonham Carter."

Am I the only one?

I know, they're only engaged, not married, but it's still funny, darn it!

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