Sadly, The Office is nearing the end. I will miss it greatly.

On Thursday, May 16, 2013, The last episode of The Office will air.  It will be a 75 minute show and, by all accounts, will wrap up the series nicely.

I have a passion for this show that boarders on the obsessive.  I watch it continually.  Every night, in fact.  I have seen each episode in seasons 1-7 at least a dozen times.  I finish watching them (in order, of course) and promptly start back at episode 1, season 1.  And then I watch straight through until season 8, episode 24.  Rinse.  Repeat.

So why this obsession with The Office?  Why do I love this series so much that most people are ambivalent to and some down right hate it?  I have contemplated this at length and I think it is the depth of the characters that really appeals to me and how each time I watch it, I learn something new about the characters and their relationship to one another.

I remember when I first watched the series it was about mid season in season two.  The was so much I missed the first time through that I can scarcely believe it.  For example, I remember when Jim caught Dwight and Angela going at it in the office.  I was as shocked as he was by this!  I missed all the signs and innuendo about them.  Upon review I was shocked that I missed it all.

Now as I rewatch each episode, I discover similar, if less pronounced, pieces of the puzzle as it were.

One thing that always astounds me is how Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) is such a buffoon 90% of the time, but when it counts, he is a genius.  After forming the Michael Scott Paper Company and he is negotiating with David Wallace he points out that his company doesn’t need to survive that long, but only need to survive to the next Dunder Mifflin board meeting at which point David Wallace will be out of a job for letting their most successful branch fail.  Or when he throws Jan under the bus at the deposition when he realizes that she had already planned to do the same to him by bringing his diary to present as evidence in the lawsuit against Dunder Mifflin.

It is the writting and the actors that bring these character to life.  They make it more than a simple half-hour sitcom on Thursday nights.  They bring life and heart to the characters.  The bring a depth that can be easily overlooked or missed by the casual viewer.

Michael Scott always refered to the people in The Office as a family.  Over the years, despite their differences, the story grew to show how right he was: they did form a family.  A crazy, mixed up, mostly psychotic family, but a family none the less.

I will miss watching their antics.  It was always a bright spots of my week.

But I always have them on DVD.  And Netflix.  And Tuesday night on TBS, And on Hulu, and….

Michael Scarn lives!!!!

Boardwalk Empire best line of the season (so far…)

“We’ve been on the road for eighteen hours.  I need a bath, some chow, and then you and me sit down…and we talk…about who dies.”  — Al Capone to Nucky Thompson

Awesome.  This series continues to amaze me with the richness and depth of the characters.  As soon as I think i have one of them pegged, the writers zag and pull something I never expected.  

I never thought I would be cheering Al Capone on as the hero riding in to save the day when I started watching this series.

David Blaine is counting on you not to understand physics

Yes, that’s correct.   David Blaine, the magician and entertainer, has come to the realization that his audience just isn’t up to speed on the fundamentals of science.  It is what he is substituting for “magic” these days apparently.  (No offense, David.  I love your street magic.)

His latest ‘death-defying” feat performed this weekend in NYC is to stand on a 20 foot tower for 72 hours while being zapped constantly by 1,000,000 volts of electricity.

Sadly, the real trick here is standing on a 20 foot tower for three days without sleep or potty breaks or any other kind of breaks.  Props for that.  The 1,000,000 volts of electricity?  Meh.

The thing is it could be a billion volts of electricity and it wouldn’t matter for a two reasons:

1)      Voltage isn’t what kills you.  It’s amperes (amps) that kill.  In fact, anything over 0.1 amps is considered lethal.  So while a million volts my sound scary, it has no relevance on the danger of the situation.

2)      Mr. Blaine is wearing a Faraday Suit the entire time.  The suits, sometimes worn by linemen in high-voltage situations, cancel out the charge inside the suit so the wearer is not harmed by the charge outside the suit.

So barring a rainstorm or that Mr. Blaine wets himself during the performance, there really is no huge danger to him.  This is less “magic” and more a “cool physics demonstration.”

Western Digital TV Live Plus….$100 well spent!

This post is long overdue.

There are some technologies that fundamentally change the way we consume media in home entertainment.  The DVR and TiVo were one.  I remember my wife scoffing at the need to use a DVR with our Dish Network system.  She thought it was a waste of $200.  Now both of us get extremely frustrated when we cannot pause or rewind television.  I think if it were a choice between me or the DVR, I might get the short end of the stick.  My youngest daughter has never known a television where she could not pause or rewind the show.  When she was younger, the concept of “live television”  (or at least television being shown as it is broadcast) was an enigma to her.   The DVR truly changed the way we watched television.

Likewise the Western Digital TV Live Plus has changed how we watch our videos and DVDs.   Having young children and a DVD player in the car equates to having a lot of missing, scratched, and damaged discs.  We were constantly finding empty cases and wayward DVDs destroyed beyond the point of ever being able to be played again.  I personally have purchased “Cheaper by the Dozen” at least three times. So when a friend described the WD TV Live, I knew I had to try one and see if it would resolve my DVD woes.

The WD TV Live plus is a multi-function media player.  It connects to a home network via Ethernet cable and connects to your TV via HDMI, Composite Video, or Composite A/V.  The full specs can be found here.  I attached my WDTV up to a 3 TB WD My Book, fired up Handbreak on the macbook and started ripping my DVDs and uploading them to the 3 TB Hard drive.  I was hoping 3 TB would be enough.  So after ripping all 120+ DVDs I am left with…yikes!  2.7 TB free space left….talk about overkill!  Now with the touch of a few keys I am watching any movie in my collection.

I would recommend categorizing the films by some method and putting them into folders on the hard drive.  Then an image can be uploaded into each folder and renamed folder.jpg.  This will become the image for that folder.   I recommend Xzener’s Icons for this.  A Google search for this will turn up several sources, but I would recommend this one.  It makes for a nice tidy little interface that looks kind of impressive.

It has a pretty good selection of Internet media, for me the most notable being Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Pandora. The streaming of Netflix quality is very good and the interface is easy to navigate.  However the search capability is hampered by the poor input method of entering text.  The resolution and buffering were at least on par with the better streaming devices I have used like Roku and some embedded players. 

Hulu Plus, which never really impressed me before, has piqued my interest again and I am taking a second look at their offering.  I’m not sure if I will subscribe, but the offerings seem to have gotten better.  The quality seems at least as good as a normal HD broadcast and with less commercial interruptions, it seems like it might be worth it.  I am on a one-week trial right now, which seems kind of short for a decent evaluation.

I purchased the WD TV Live Plus in October 2011.  Shortly afterwards, Western Digital released the WD TV Live Streaming.  This newer device has an app in the iTunes store that allows you to control the WD TV Live remotely.  Additionally the new WD TV Live also has the Spotify app.

Another current offering from WD is the WD TV Live Hub which, in addition to that way cool iPhone app that I can’t get, has a built in 1 TB Hard Drive and UPnP capability.  While this was available when I purchased my WD TV Live Plus, I didn’t think it made sense  to purchase it.  The WD TV Live hub was running $229, but I could purchase a WD 2TB drive for $120.    So for $9 less I could get 1TB more storage!  But in retrospect, I wish I would have gotten that one instead for the iPhone app and the uPnP.

But at the end of the day there is no buyer’s remorse here.  I am still very pleased with performance and capabilities of the WD TV Live Plus.

Okay….Will Ferrell is a Huge disappointment

I was so hoping for something more.  I realize he was only slated to be on the office for four episodes, but if the next three are like the first one, I’m not going to be very happy about it.  Perhaps they are trying to user Will Ferrell as a counter to show how great a boss Michael Scott was, but the fawning the Office gang is doing over him is horrible and troubling.  While quirky, the office gang was always the straight man to Michael’s comedy.  Only Pam is the only one showing any any common sense in the group.

I hoping this isn’t an indication of where the series is going.

Top Super Bowl XLV commercials

In the U.S. the number one sporting even is the Super Bowl.  Almost everything stops for it.  As such, the commercials that are shown take on a life of their own becoming almost as much of an event as the game itself.

So now, for your viewing pleasure, are my top three rated Super Bowl commercials:

 3.     Ozzy Osbourne meets Justn Beiber. (Best Buy)  Simply brilliant.   Adding Ozzy automatically puts any commercial into the top five, and him asking “What’s a Beiber?” locks it in at number three….

 

2.   Love huts Pepsi MAX commercial.  For some reason this reminds me of Jules in “Pulp Fiction”

when he said “Well, if you like burgers give ’em a try sometime. I can’t usually get ’em myself because my girlfriend’s a vegetarian which pretty much makes me a vegetarian. But I do love the taste of a good burger.”

Anyway, pretty funny stuff….

 

 1.  Top commercial for this year for me was the Doritos House sitter.  Thankfully we have a DVR, so we watched this several times.  This is what Super Bowl commercials were meant to be.

 

And finally the lamest commercials of the 2011 Superbowl were the GoDaddy commercials.  Here’s a clue GoDaddy: If you want to attract people guys to your website with the lure of softcore porn, you’d be best servered not to use Joan Rivers as bait…

 

Overall, the quality of commercials this year were not as good as they have been in past years.  They seemed to be missing the edginess that is usually the hallmark of the Super Bowl commercials.  But there were still a few decent ones, but next year I am hoping for better.

Oh, and congrats to the Packers, and well played game to the Steelers.

Who will replace Michael Scarn?

MichaelScottFor those not in the know, Michael Scarn is the name Michael Scott’s (AKA Steve Carell) alter-ego.  I am a huge fan of the NBC series “The Office.”  I realize, painfully sometimes, that it is not everyone’s cup of tea.  More often than not when I mention the series to someone I am met with something along the lines of “Oh, I hate that show” or “That guy is such an idiot.  How can you watch him.”

Well, I guess that’s kind of the beauty of the series and what makes I so much fun for me.  While it is over the top most of the time, there is a certain level of reality hidden right below the surface.  That little twinge of knowing that if I don’t know someone in my office just like them, I know someone with enough personality quirks and character defect that they could walk right onto the set of “The Office” and fit right in.  Perhaps we don’t have a quality assurance guy that is a burned out hippy like Creed Barton, but we do have a receptionist that think she secretly runs the company.  We may not have an Ivy League under achiever like Andy Bernard, but we have a guy that sits in his office taking pleasure at his own farts.

So that is why I like “The Office.”  While over the top, it is still very grounded in reality.  Almost disturbingly so.

But the anchor of this crazy ship, Steve Carell, is leaving.  And he is leaving some pretty big shoes to fill.  So who would I get to replace him?  Well, I wouldn’t consider bringing anyone from the current cast.  They all have their niche and roles.  To switch them now would jeopardize the series, and one of the things that always made Michael Scott “work” was that he was outside the rest of the cast and he desperately wanted to be inside.  I think it would stress the series too much to “promote” someone in the current cast into his position.

I have been thinking about who might fill the position and I think there are a few on SNL (also a NBC production) that might fill the role well.

bill1)    Bill Hader –  One of the best talents on SNL, he could easily fill the role.  The only question I have is could he play it serious enough.  With the right motivation and character development, I think he would do well.

 

 

jason2)    Jason Sudeikis – He would make a great replacement.  He does well with the straight man role and has a certain quirkiness that would play well in the role as an office manager.  He is my favorite option.

 

taran3)    Tarin Killam – A newbie to SNL, but he has a Michael Keaton feel about him that would do well in the role.  He’s a long shot, but I think he could do well in the role.

 

 

Anyway, Steve will be missed, but I think one of these gentlemen could do well in the role if given the chance.

Thoughts?