Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: "24" Fall TV Movie To Take Place in Africa!

Well, the headline kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Just to recap, Season 7 won't start airing until January, 2009. In order to keep us from committing mass acts of violence and self-mutilation, Fox has wisely decided to throw us a slab of raw meat in the form of a 2-hour television movie, set to air sometime this Fall. And said movie will have Jack Bauer yelling "Dammit!" to a whole new continent of people, this one being Africa. Remember, the original concept for Season 7 was to have Bauer go to Africa, something the studio shot down when it became logistically impossible given the show's real-time format.

On a personal note: I'm losing my ability to get excited for this show at the moment. I know when clips start airing and previews are put on the web that all will be good again. But talking about these things so far in advance is... well, I hate to say it, but part of me doesn't believe this will all happen. We had a series of things come up to stop Season 7 already. And maybe I'm being a little paranoid, but who's to say that nothing else won't go wrong? Something strange is hanging over this show at the moment. Until I see all of these things actually happen, I'm going to remain skeptical.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Mustache

"A man without a mustache is like a cup of tea without sugar” -English Proverb.

What do you do when there's no "24" to watch? Join a community volunteer group? Reconnect with old friends? Write the great American novel? No, no, no-- that's all way too ambitious. The answer to this question is quite simple: you grow a mustache.

My office is a place where college never seemed to end for a lot of people. I've been out of undergrad since well... since Bill Clinton was president. But being in marketing and advertising makes for a very playful and downright unprofessional work environment. So, a handful of us were lamenting a couple of weeks ago about the death of the mustache-- a once proud style of the accomplished man. One person asked "Who was the last sitting president to wear a mustache?" The answer: William Howard Taft, who incidentally was our last portly commander-in-chief too. That's right, in nearly 100 years the mustache has been in exile from The White House. But the mustache's decline is further widespread. '70s porn stars apparently ruined it for the rest of us.

So, a bunch of us here at work decided to make an effort to revive the faded 'stache. We are engaging in a mustache-growing contest. This thing started 2 weeks ago and the judging (which will be voted on by all the females in the office) will take place on May 2nd. Yours truly is growing a beard in the meantime and will shave down to the mustache for one day only. Am I a coward for doing it that way? Yes. But maybe after May 2nd, I'll realize the error of my ways and keep it the sucker for good. Hmmm....

Here's where I am as of now:

Monday, April 14, 2008

On Politics

I don't know if any of you have been watching the HBO mini-series on John Adams, but what started out as a slow burn for me became a very intense viewing experience with the past couple of episodes. And John Adams, while a pivotal and vital member of our Founding Fathers, is a person worthy of discussion in examining our nation's history, I find my mind focusing on George Washington instead.

Washington, our nation's first president, is a man who I think goes greatly unknown for many people nowadays. Yes, we know the legend of the man; his cherry tree antics and his wooden teeth (which weren't really wooden). But his presidency is seemingly lost in the fabric of political history. He is our only president who didn't belong to a political party. And true to his lack of a political affiliation, the man was actually quite opposed to the (even then) nastiness of the two-party system.

The biggest challenge facing the United States during President Washington's time in office was to keep the states united. This country was not only brand new, but it was fragile in many ways. The historic separation of the colonies was an institutional problem for those trying to establish (and legitimize) a national government. And if you think people were opposed to government intrusion today, try asking your average "American" what he or she felt of a federal government in the 1790s. It is nothing short of a miracle that the Constitution was ratified.

But Washington was the face and name to that national unity. Because he didn't ascribe to a specific set of party beliefs, he was able to bring all parties to the table. And he ran a unity government, including vehement opponents within his own cabinet. Alexander Hamilton, who was by all accounts an asshole, was hell-bent on forcing federal strength on the states. And Thomas Jefferson, a hypocritical back-stabber, was selfishly pushing French politics and Southern States matters. And Washington sat at the center, guiding both sides to compromise. This man was the epitome of a leader. And what's even better than his ability to engage those who were so passionate and unwavering, was the fact that Washington knew what his reputation and standing meant to the country. He was a substantial force, he was his own institution, begging the nation to be thoughtful in its passions. And his power, significant and unmatched by others, was something he used without selfishness or personal gain.

This is not to say that Washington was a pure soul. He, like any other politician, cared a great deal about how others viewed him. When he signed the Jay Treaty, which effectively put America on the side of the English in their fight with the French, Washington lost a lot of his Teflon coating. Jefferson, who was far too deeply enthralled by the French Revolution to be rational at the time, turned on Washington in the most unfair of ways-- by feeding stories to the press that the President was feeble-minded and not in control of his government. Washington was greatly hurt by the betrayal, and obsessed over it until his final days in office. But the example of how Washington's political fortunes soured a bit, shows exactly what has always been a part of our nation's political history.

Politics is not a process that always produces the right results or judgments. Politics is the art of the possible, which is often achieved through the techniques of distortion and hyperbole. If you feel frustrated by the current political climate (and the never-ending campaign cycle) I say to you "Look to President Washington." He called party rivalry excessive and in danger of becoming "a fire not to be quenched." Yes, he understood that people would have differing opinions on issues, but he sought to avoid the party platform mentality, where you were either one thing or another. Let each issue be decided on its own merits. Imagine that? An ad hoc treatment of the issues themselves, free from party posturing.

Now, I contrast Washington's example (played to perfection by David Morse in the "John Adams" mini-series) with the character of Jack Stanton in "Primary Colors" (the 1997 movie not-so-loosely based on Bill Clinton's first run for the presidency). Both were on TV today. Both shook my brain by their stark differences. 200-plus years later, I think we need to give President Washington some more thought. Unity is not a dead idea.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Breaking News! EXCELLENT NEWS! Unconfirmed reports state that the long-delayed Season 7 of "24" is being rushed to premiere sooner than the previously-scheduled January 2009 window. The new premiere will be in Sepember 2008! This is a surprise, for sure, but a welcome one. At this point, I don't care if they give Jack an orangutan sidekick and a plucky new boss with has a silly catchphrase (Oh, Jack, NO YOU DIDN'T!"). All I want is "24" to come back. And maybe a new car.

So, if we do the math, today is April 1st, which would put new episodes of 24 are only five months away! Stay tuned for more news on Season 7.