John Mulaney, a great stand up comedian, says in a routine he does about getting a Xanax prescription, “Part of me was like…whatever…you know, you know those days when you’re like…well, this might as well happen…adult life is already so goddamn weird.” I have many days where I go to bed just contemplating how anything that happened today actually happened. The joys and the sorrows that follow you through a day that sometimes just seems weird. I remember just thinking there was a camera that followed me around because nothing that happened made any sense at all and someone must be watching and enjoying this because I am not.
<Spoilers if you haven’t watched How I Met Your Mother’s finale>
I remember when I first saw promos for How I Met Your Mother nine years ago. I remember being so excited and watching that pilot and having the same starstruck feeling that Ted portrayed. Many of my friends were getting married or at least were in relationships. The closest thing I had to a relationship was my addiction to All My Children and now figuring out how to tape How I Met Your Mother using a VCR and digital cable. The answer was buying an antenna as well. Oh 2004, you were a different time.
Tonight, How I Met Your Mother ended and I am still a bit stunned by it. I was pretty sure I knew what was happening with the mother based on a few lines in previous episodes. Nevertheless, that wasn’t the theme as time moved quickly for the entire hour. The entire episode is about aging and changing expectations. The whole show seems to be about aging. I’m a couple of years younger than the characters in the show but there is no time like your late twenties and early thirties where you are just utterly confused by life. You think you have things figured out and you pretend you do. You go out of your way to make sure everyone else knows that you seem to have things put together. I think this is why so many people get married and have kids. It allows you to move past the concerns you have about the direction of your life because you have just added someone else into the equation. How I Met Your Mother looked at this problem of aging and drifting from many angles.
You had Barney. He’s the life of the party and just is going to enjoy himself. Psychologically, I’m sure you would refer to him as the id. He’s always chasing a woman or two. He does what he likes to do and does it well. Over the course of the show, it seemed like the writers enjoyed writing his character but felt he needed a character path that deviated from his core. The finale touched on this problem right off the bat. You could tell his marriage to Robin didn’t make sense. They said it often. But it seemed like the only direction to go with them as they were so similar, but we will get there in a second.
Next, you have the happy couple. My parents met in college (not on their first day mind you). And they never really understood what it is like to be single and not in a closed campus of other hormonal people who just want to meet their soul mate. Lily and Marshall were that couple. They lucked out. They knew it but it is hard to be on the outside of that. They have some sort of magnetism that holds them together. When Lily left after season one in a very Robin-like way, she was miserable and had to return to Marshall. She was not a rolling stone. She had her moss-mallow (see what I did there, cause she called him her Marsh-mallow and a rolling stone has no moss). Marshall was a little more selfish in his wants and dreams throughout most of the show. His career took many paths but he gave Lily what she wanted and tried to consider her feelings until the last season. For example, they moved to the suburbs and hated it, but he did take the judgeship without asking. It all worked out as it always did for that couple. They were born under the right sign. But in the end, they had to figure out how to live together and be happy. Yet, they never imagined it without the other. In the finale, there isn’t a crack in their armor as time passes. All of the other characters have crises that hurt their relationships – but not Lily and Marshall. They are upset by the distance that is being created between their friends. Lily cannot seem to comprehend not having that closeness that they once had. I have that feeling often. I don’t have a large circle of friends but I miss having that closeness and wish it could be like it was. But that is probably the hardest part of your twenties and thirties – it will never be like it was and nor should it. As you get older, your life changes. Your friends change but it doesn’t change what you had with people before. People move and grow apart. People just find other things to fill their time with and you don’t share an apartment or live in the same hallway anymore. You can’t go to the same restaurant or bar or wherever because it is too far away. And as you grow older, you dream of those simpler times when things made more sense.
Overall, I relate to Ted. I wanted to find my soul mate. I wanted to get married. I just never had that group of friends to push me out of my shell. I didn’t have a group of five people to hang out with at a bar. I barely had people who asked me if I was having a good day. A lot of that was my own fault because I just don’t know how to do it. But I wanted to be Ted so badly.
Ted is that person you know who seems to have things together but is an absolute mess. He is a dreamer who can’t land on the ground. But he is a charming cloud jumper. You root for him because he is friendly and kind and really does seem to want to find love.
In the pilot, you watch him lose it when he sees the woman who may be the woman of his dreams. You find out right away that she isn’t. But she is central to the story. Robin is the lynch pin. She is the one that has to realize what it means to be loved and to love. She has a rough through line. You find out about a pretty rough relationship with her dad. You find out that she has self-esteem issues that make she not trust herself. You find out she is a rolling stone because she really doesn’t know anything else. Eventually, she dates Ted and breaks up with Ted, she dates Barney and breaks up with Barney, and dates a whole bunch of other guys along the way. You find out she can’t have children. And you think that she may be the one that can settle Barney down and that he may settle her down. There are two entire seasons dedicated to a long con to get her to marry him because she is his world and then an entire season of just their wedding. But the long con is actually not if she can settle Barney down but if Barney can settle her down and the answer is no. She doesn’t want that. She seems to treat Barney really terribly as she travels the world. She then treats her friends terribly because she just doesn’t feel connected anymore. But she has this halo around her that was there in the pilot when the camera had a soap opera haze to it. The minute she returns, it’s as if she never left. Marshall’s joke about the yeti is over.
Robin was the career woman who wanted to achieve. She wanted success and wanted to travel the world doing what she loved – journalism. It is what broke up Robin and Ted after season two and it was always at the edge of her mind. She wasn’t happy with her job and wanted to move on. She is the rolling stone. And again, the writers felt they needed a character path that settled her down. Because that is what we are all told we are supposed to do. But there is no sign that she does until the last scene.
The show had to end this way. And you know the writers planned it this way because they filmed that piece with Ted’s kids a long time ago as they are nine years older now. It makes sense but it isn’t satisfying. It turned out to be a story about two women: the mother and Robin. And I guess the most unsatisfying part is that the actual changes in both of these two women are done off screen. Robin obviously wasn’t ready to marry and still had too much to do, but why did she return to New York City and get a bunch of dogs. Why did Ted and the Mother not get married for so long after everything Ted says about marriage the entire time? It seems out of character for all of the talk of fate and magic of love for him to wait seven years to actually marry her and for then Robyn to show up again. It is almost like the line that Stella says way back when: you never want an ex at your wedding. Why did Lily say this time was different if the whole story is about Robin? I suppose it doesn’t matter.
The hardest part of being a young adult is the uncertainty. You are trying to create a career and a family and have a social network that doesn’t exist only online. The days of your youth are slowly drifting away. You have to pay bills and start saving for houses, cars, kids, colleges, and just about everything else. And you change at a rapid pace. You shift from someone who has no cares in the world to having to take care of the world. And like Ted, I wanted to find someone to share that with.
I think this last year has been my awakening, which is why some of the plotting and out-of-character actions in the finale don’t bother me. I lived through a lot of things that didn’t really fit into the plot I had written or the actions I thought would happen. A relationship that couldn’t go any further didn’t. But it opened my eyes to what I want out of life. Everything was building up to something. It makes things a little brighter and better because I was able to survive all of the hard things as I aged. All of the dilemmas and heartbreaks that were with joys of being with close friends and acquaintances all began to make sense almost a year ago today. I cherish what I have now because of what my life has been.
I suppose that is why I love How I Met Your Mother and why the finale has made me sit down and write all of this. We have a path in our life and it is a jagged messy one. We don’t have a through-line that always makes sense. Sometimes, we are shifted to fit a role that we think is better at the time, like Barney and Robin. Sometimes the rolling stone rests before starting out on another path. Sometimes the playboy finds that thing that makes him really understand what love is. Sometimes that happy couple looks around and wonders why no one else has what they have. And sometimes, it all works out. But sometimes, it doesn’t.
Love is a really powerful emotion. It generally hurts. There is nothing worse than hearing from someone you love bad news. There is nothing better than hearing good news. Yet both produce tears.
I always get nervous about the Jeopardy quiz. For the past four years, I have taken the Jeopardy online test to qualify for a possible random selection for an interview and a practice game to possibly appear on my favorite game show. I take it because I love games and want to test my knowledge on so many fields. I have a few wholes in my knowledge – geography, liquor, and classical music. Last year, I read Othello and part of Wuthering Heights to prepare for Jeopardy. No questions on either of those this Jeopardy quiz. There was one on King Lear. I think I got it right. But I would love to appear on the show. I think it would be amazing to meet other people who love trivia and have little nerdy qualities. I would love to compete against them in fun categories about minerals and TV theme songs. Not just look at the JBoard.tv website after the Jeopardy Quiz and make small talk with a few other contestant hopefuls.
I used to show up late for cross country practice to see Final Jeopardy. I have taped it every day since law school started. I watched every episode of Ken Jennings‘ long run on the show. I had a Jeopardy! handheld game. I had the computer game. I had the Super Nintendo game. I just love trivia. I love the game and I feel lucky to just take the Jeopardy quiz each year.
Of course, I would love to appear on the show one day or at least meet Alex Trebek and tell him how much I enjoy the show. But if that never happens, I’ll survive. Most people don’t get to appear on the show. And the quiz really makes me realize where I am in my knowledge and what I’m missing. I know my television and musicals. But hard knowledge – not so strong. I generally guess my way through with basic knowledge. But I always forget about Mt. Etna and have no idea where any desert besides the Sahara is. I think I got 33/50. I probably should have paid more attention to The Hunger Games…
Here is a YouTube video of the Jeopardy quiz for an idea of what you missed out on:
In the old 52, Firestorm had been transformed in the past year to an entity with a dark side due to the Black Lantern Firestorm and Ronnie Raymond coming back from the dead. When the New 52 was announced, Firestorm became one of the characters to watch as so much had happened to the character in the past year. Through Brightest Day, Jason Rusch and Ronnie became two interesting characters that were not very familiar to me as I had not read either of their books. The solicitations for the new book with the two characters as Firestorms appeared to be a great premise. The books started by showing some of the differences between the new teenagers in their high school setting. Dr. Stein, who created the Firestorm matrix, appeared in back story but did not appear in the current storyline. With issue three, the main storyline focused on a set of government officials who wanted the matrix. And wanted to get it away from Jason and Rusch.
The government as bogeyman has been a through-line in many of the new 52 books that I have read. Captain Atom and Action Comics come to mind. But with current politics flooding around the purpose of government, this attempt at commentary rationally flows from the front page. However, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men is missing the mark as a solid political commentary.
By the end of issue three, I am confused as to what the matrix can do, why the government wants it, and why a monster who was created by the first attempt at imposing the matrix into a human needs to enter the mix. The tone of the book has dramatically changed from two teenagers out of their league with powers that they don’t understand to two teenagers fighting for what they were given from the hands of the government.
The art in issue three also appears rushed. In the scenes of the Firestorm are losing the the governmental officials and are being told that their mentor, Dr. Stein, was selling the Firestorm protocols to terrorist nations, the line work becomes very rough and the backgrounds become a bland blue that may reflect the night sky. However, the grass appears blue and the inking makes everything look over shadowed.
By the time Helix appears, the story has become lost. The small moments between the Firestorms work very well with a bond slowly bring formed, but then Helix flies in with visions of Nazi Firestorms dance in his head. But the rest of the issue does not clarify why the Firestorms become one that looms like a skull head and it does not become anymore compelling.
In issue four, the allegory for the arms race of nuclear weapons becomes crystal clear. Though Firestorm began as a Spider-man archetype, the fear of nuclear war and disaster became a storytelling point for the character in the past , and it appear this is where the story is going in the new 52. Issue four was stronger than three in art as well as story. Though Cinar’s faces go from Tony Stark to overly cartoony by the end of the issue, the storytelling is stronger. In the fight between two other Firestorms, as the battle went on, the panels became a skewed until a winner is determined.
However, having a Russian and an Arabic Firestorm confront each other seemed overly clichéd. And the mysterious Director Zither fails to stand strong as an adversary/ally. We know she was married to Helix and some disaster due to the Firestorm protocol/matrix ruined her family, but I am not that interested in finding out anything more about her. Obviously, she isn’t helping Ronnie with good will and it will come back to bite them as they are teenagers who don’t know any better. I hope I’m wrong, but this book isn’t going out on enough limbs and quickly changes back and forth between high school rivalry and intergovernmental fights over nuclear weaponry in the form of humans associated with the Firestorm protocols/matrix.
As anyone who went to college or law school should know, I watched All My Children religiously. I would tape it every day and watch it during the evening in twenty minutes. If I didn’t have class from 11-12 while at Ripon, I watched it live. I wrote many religion papers for Professor Smith while watching the activities in Pine Valley. However, I haven’t watched since I started studying for the bar exam and started working. There wasn’t enough hours in the day. And now, the soap opera has been cancelled.
My mom watched All My Children during college and continued to watch it while she raised me, my brother, and my sister. Our days were filled with the adventures of Erica Kane, her many husbands, Adam Chandler, his many wives, and my favorite character, Tad Martin. When my dad would come home from work, we would update him on the state of Natalie, who was put in a well by her evil twin sister, Janet from Another Planet. Janet had put Natalie in the well to be able to steal her husband, Trevor, and their family. Eventually, Dmitri rescued her, married Erica, and Natalie was killed in a car accident with Adam in the car. Adam’s twin brother Stuart, undoubtedly was very upset.
It was a lot of fun to watch it every day during college. I grew up with these people and enjoyed their continuing stories, no matter how repetitive they were. When my brother saw David Canary, the actor who played Adam Chandler, at the Art Institute of Chicago, the first question I asked was if he said hi. The fact that either of us knew who David Canary was proved how powerful these characters were.
In the last few months, I taped a few episodes of All My Children: the fortieth anniversary and the departure of Adam Chandler. The anniversary episode was a clip show that featured many of the characters I grew up with and it was the last episode where Palmer Cordtland appeared. It was a fun little retrospective through my youth. And when I read that David Canary was leaving the show and Adam was going to run away with Brooke English, I had to tune in. Honestly, I had tears in my eyes when they walked away to board the Chandler jet together forever.
I don’t think I was ever proud to watch soap operas (and it became soap operas in law school, when I also watched As the World Turns, also cancelled now). I doubt I would ever start watching another one, but I will always remember the names of the actors and the characters. When I was in middle school, I played Scattergories with friends and the only “L” actress I knew was Susan Lucci. She still would be my only answer.
Thanks for the memories, Erica, Jackson, Adam, Brooke, David Hayward, Greenlee, Bianca, Kendall, Natalie, Janet, JR, Babe, Stuart, Liza, Tad, Dixie, and the rest of the Martin, Kane, Chandler, Cordtland families.
I love a good murder mystery. The earliest books I remember reading were Boxcar Children stories, which I cannot really remember anymore. I’m assuming they didn’t have too many murder mysteries in them, but it began my love of the genre. I moved to the Encyclopedia Brown series after that with even more mundane mysteries that usually involved lost school supplies. When I was in sixth grade, I moved to Agatha Christie books. I would lay awake all night after reading a chapter of And Then There Were None. I would dream of being killed by bee stings and the Indian statutes that sat in the middle of the room as each person died one by one.
The hard part of these stories is that many people love them and there are so many different varieties. Moving past books, TV and movies have hundreds of murders occurring each year. And very few of them are interesting.
Earlier this year, Psych did a Twin Peaks inspired episode. I had never seen the show, but knew it centered on the murder of Laura Palmer. I bought my brother the DVD collection of Twin Peaks a few years back for Christmas, so I asked him to borrow it. I watched the entire first season, but never finished the second season. The hard part was it was more of a soap opera than a murder mystery. My brother argued that the murder wasn’t the important part of the story, but that it was basically the engine that drove the story that showcased evil in a small town. Taking the supernatural and mystical stuff out of the picture, I wasn’t that drawn to the characters, but I am willing to give it a second chance sometime in the future. Nonetheless, I wanted to watch a good murder mystery with interesting and diverse characters who are good and bad, happy and sad, guilty and innocent.
This past weekend, The Killing premiered on AMC. I read many articles that compared the show to Twin Peaks as it occurs in a small town setting. I imagine for writers in LA or New York City, Seattle is a little town just like Twin Peaks. But right off the bat, I am more interested in this series than Twin Peaks. I’m drawn to some of the characters and am interested in the political and social aspects of the story. I had the same reaction to the first half of the first season of Twin Peaks, so it may turn out to be something that I eventually will not be interested in.
The story starts with a woman who is leaving the homicide division of the Seattle Police Department to marry her boyfriend in San Francisco. However, as she is moving out of her office and her replacement tries to move in, a call comes in for a missing girl presumed dead in this forested region. Of course, we meet the missing girl’s family along the way as we watch them discover that their daughter has been killed. There are delinquent teenagers, piercings, skateboards, and school dances involved. There is also a mayoral campaign that pits what seems like an up-and-coming city councilman who wants to change the city against the staid old mayor who has outworn his welcome. The murder brings all of these individuals together in an intrinsic plot. And this was all in the first two episodes. There are about twenty characters floating around that we have met with motives all over the place for the murder as well as just devious behavior. It’s a typical murder mystery in that description, but the characters definitely have a depth to them that is rare in TV crime shows.
Additionally, the directing is fantastic. Like Twin Peaks, the setting appears to be a huge character to the story. There are many establishing shots and fly-overs of the forested region where the girl was found and bright cityscapes to counter that dark, green mystery. The city has a gray tone to it that makes it seem very gothic. The rain-soaked atmosphere of Seattle also plays well for this type of story.
I greatly recommend this show to anyone who likes a good serialized murder story. AMC has a wide array of quality TV. I enjoyed Rubicon greatly, but this show is far superior in pacing. It has not reached the level that show got in tension yet, but it needs a little more time. The show airs on Sundays, but I am sure it is available On Demand and is also being rebroadcast all week as it just premiered. It will take the place of Celebrity Apprentice on Sunday in my TV schedule. For anyone who knows me, that is a huge step. Goodbye Gary Busey. Hello Seattle.
Last week, I used my NetFlix Instant Watch to download the first season of the British sitcom, The IT Crowd. Although it came out in 2006, two other seasons have came and went since then and a fourth is planned to come out in the coming year.
The premise is a young up-and-coming female executive, Jen, becomes the new head of the IT Department of a major corporation after lying that she knows a lot about computers on her resume. She is sent down to the basement where the two IT staff members reside, or are there three???
From there, she becomes their relationship manager as she tries to make the group stand out more and to highlight their successes. In the first season, we learn a lot about the staff: Roy and Moss.
Roy is a typical slacker, computer guy. Moss is your typical computer nerd who does not understand anything else. Yet, I have never seen three very stereotypical characters put through so many hilarious situations.
The show is increasingly surreal with twists and turns that logically make little sense, but story-wise, you buy into it.
I have since bought the second season on DVD and await the upcoming third season release in September.
My favorite two episodes of the first two seasons are:
Jen is attracted to a temp security guard after Roy has a miserable date where he realizes that women do not like nice guys, but prefer jerks.
Jen is going out with a man who got her tickets to a musical. Roy and Moss believe he is also inviting them, so they go along. During a five minute portion of the episode, I have not laughed so much since Dwight’s fire drill during the Super Bowl episode of The Office.
I highly recommend that you find a copy of The IT Crowd. It’s perfect comedy with a nice hint of subtle nerdom.
I went in and out when it came to Scrubs. I watched the second season, I believe part of the fourth and the last three. I have also seen a lot in syndication. I can’t explain why I never got into the show as I do with a multitude of other shows.
But the last episode that was on tonight got to me. The sentimentality of J.D. is definitely something I related to. And that may be why I don’t really like him: I’m quite similar without being over-the-top. I daydream a lot and think about the possibilities of life. I overdo things and try too hard. I want people to like me and I want to like people. I just want to help.
And I think I accomplish a lot of those things. It is hard to say goodbye. You do just keep moving on and hoping things don’t pass you by. Read more of this article »
I wanted to see Rod Blagojevich on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.
Why? I wanted to witness the insanity of this cartoon character who was a twice elected public official kicked out of office for horrible corruption wandering through the rainforest.
Yes, I know his crimes are horrible and he put my home state through a lot of crap, but think about all the tasks he would have to do. And the consequences of the trip. It would answer so many questions about his personality and his thought-processes. Read more of this article »
After watching the Battlestar Galactica finale last night, which was fantastic, I realized I am missing something: geek friends to discuss geek matters with. Whether it’s after an episode of Lost, an issue of Action Comics, or some philosophical/scientific theory that will pop into my head, I have to hold onto the information. Or I can write it down in an entry on this website. Read more of this article »