Archive for May 2011

Who’s the new boss?   Leave a comment

There are ten people looking to take the place of Michael Scott as the regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company – ten delusional, sad, ridiculous people.

Counter-clockwise from upper right: Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson), David Brent (Ricky Gervais), Dwight Schrute alias Jacques Souvenir (Rainn Wilson), Merv Bronte (Ray Romano), Fred Henry (Will Arnett), Robert California (James Spader), Warren Buffett (as himself), Nelly Bertram (Catherine Tate), [the search committee: Tobey Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein), Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), Kelly Kapoor (Mandy Kaling)], “Finger Lakes Guy” (Jim Carrey), Andy Bernard (Ed Helms)

The  seventh season of The Office ended last week, and I took the opportunity to throw a little sketch together. I haven’t watched the show regularly since 2009 – I got caught up in school work and I spent a semester in France and I never got caught up on what I’d missed. I watched the season finale last week, though, and I’m a little worried that the show has jumped the shark. In case you’re not familiar with that particular expression, let me educate you:

Jumping The Shark is the moment when an established show changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it’s all downhill.

While the subsequent five seasons haven’t been able to quite equal the spectacular first two seasons of The Office, the show has still managed to stay nearly as funny and enjoyable as it was in the beginning. It’s lost a lot of its freshness, but not too much of it’s steam. The characters haven’t gotten too exaggerated, and they’ve been fleshed out pretty well. The real difficulty for a series like this is creating enough story lines to last several years without having anything too ridiculous happen. This is how the phrase “jumping the shark” originated, actually. The fifth season premiere of Happy Days ended with a cliff-hanger, resolved the following week, in which the Fonz travels to Hollywood and jumps over a penned great white shark on water skis as a dare.

It’s the guest-star cameos that make me worry that The Office has done just this. A few episodes back, after Michael announced his plans to quit and leave for Colorado to join his ex-lover and now fiancé Holly. His replacement is a man named Deangelo Vickers, played by Will Ferrell. Now, I love Ferrell and his ridiculous characters, but strength of The Office is that its characters, no matter how ridiculous they are, are always believable as people, and the Deangelo character just seemed too much like a Will Ferrell cameo rather than a real solid character.

The problem with celebrity cameos on this show is that they just can’t help but stick out as famous faces. The last episode took this to a bit of an extreme with eight celebrity guest stars playing candidates for Michael’s replacement. The characters themselves were all fine, but the fact is that when Jim Carrey’s appears on The Office for ten seconds as a candidate for regional manager of the Scranton branch, I don’t see the character he’s supposed to be portraying, I see Jim Carrey. And why in the world would David Brent, Michael Scott’s counterpart from the original BBC series played by Ricky Gervais, be interviewing for a job in Scranton, Pennsylvania??? Even Gervais, who is also co-creator and one of the executive producers of the American show, expressed some skepticism about what was going on in this episode.

All this said, however, I still thing The Office is a great show. It’s still funny, the characters are still engaging, and the stories are still interesting. I just hope that whoever they choose as the new boss is a worthy replacement for Michael Scott.

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Patriotism FAIL   Leave a comment

So, now that my roommate is gone and I’ll never see him ever again, I feel it’s high time I post this. I wrote this back in September, when the guy who shows up every fall selling flags in front of the Union made his annual visit. The evening after the flag-monger’s visit, I came back to my dorm room to find this thing hanging on my roommate’s side of the wall:

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, my roommate was a nice guy. It’s just that he obviously has terrible taste in certain things. Because let’s face it – this flag is an embarrassment to everything associated with it.

First of all, there’s the unabashedly obnoxious jingoism of the thing – presented through the un-ironic use of something as thoroughly hackneyed as the old “America – Love It or Leave It” adage, no less.

Secondly, we have the incredibly crappy clipart-looking eagle that’s been plastered on the flag, whose talons look like the feet of an ankylosaurus.

Then there are those six tiny little red stars that have been added to the left side of the banner for no apparent reason.

There’s the wobbly outline of the banner which isn’t quite up to snuff.

And, of course, the real humdinger: the fact that the flag in the background only loosely resembles the actual American flag. Take a look at the stripes on this ersatz Old Glory: they’re in the wrong order! On a real American flag, the top stripe is red. Red, not white. This flag, then, is the ideal flag for the red-blooded patriot who loves Old Glory but who’s too stupid to know what it actually looks like.

Last, but certainly not least, we have this little gem, which might help explain some of the other peculiarities of this flag:

I’m sorry for wasting your time with my play-by-play rundown of this nonsense, but it was just too ridiculous not to share. As far as the roommate went: while we didn’t hit it off at all – actually, we hardly ever even spoke to each other – I have almost no complaints about sharing a room with him other than this.

:: Disclaimer :: For the record, I’m not an America-hater. As a matter of fact I have my own American flag, which I received when I earned the rank of Eagle Scout and which I have hanging from the house. So I’m not bashing America here. I’m just suggesting that if you want to show your pride in being American, you do so in a way that doesn’t make you look like an arrogant jerk or an ignorant doofus – or, in this case, both.

End of the semester   Leave a comment

So, the semester’s over. I’ve been spending this past week unpacking and tying up some loose ends. Originally, I was supposed to graduate this past semester, but that’s since been postponed a while. This was the last time I’ll ever live in a dorm, though. I’m going to be living at home while taking part-time classes until I get my degree. I’m looking for a summer job, since the job I’d had for four years at the USDA lab ended. And that’s pretty much all there is to tell.

Also, I do also have this pretty neat little animation that I created in my 3D Modeling & Animation class. I spend so much time working on this – 300 hours at least. I enjoyed almost every minute I spent on it, but I was a little disappointed to realize, once I looked at the finished product, that it only lasted 13 seconds. Anyway, it’s pretty cool (or at least I think it is).

Posted May 14, 2011 by benjaminsapiens in personal, school

Bald   1 comment

Well, like I promised, I got my head shaved this past Wednesday. So I’m bald now. Actually, for the sake of safety and quickness, they only shaved people down to 1/8 in, and it’s started to grow back in pretty quickly, but I’m still pretty close to being authentically bald. I managed to raise $85, so thanks a bunch to everyone who donated. If you’d still like to give something, you can still head over to my profile and make a donation even though it’s after the event.

The even was a great success all the way around. All in all, we raised $14,363 for research toward a cure for childhood caner, and over 100 people got shaved over the course of four hours. The weather was looking a bit iffy on Wednesday (although the rain did end up holding off for us) so our venue was moved from the riverbank next to the Steam Plant to the Field House. With the overcast skies and the BBQ being held indoors instead of outside and the field games taking place on the other side of campus, I’d thought we’d have had trouble holding a crowd for the whole four hours, but we had a very respectable audience right until the end. I brought in the Shop-Vac from home to clean up all the cut hair, and the thing was complete filled twice with all the hair. Have you ever seen an 8-gallon tank stuffed to the brim with human hair? It was one of the grossest things I have ever seen in my life. Clumps of cut hair sitting on the floor of a barbershop? Messy, but not at all disgusting. Pounds of severed hair mashed together into a giant hairball? Pretty unnerving. Seriously, though, it was really cool to watch person after person get up on stage and get bald, especially when the ladies did it (we had at least a dozen or so of them get shaved). When we first started planning this event, our fundraising goal was $2,000. In March, we’d already surpassed that, and we increased our goal to $5,000, and then to $7,500, and then to $10,000, and by the end of the big day we’d made over $14,000. Not too bad, I’d say. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

There are a few more of my photos from the event here. There’s also a video of one of the girls getting her head shaved, reports by WLBZ 2 and WABI TV 5.

Getting shaved

Money raised

This, by the way, is the shortest I’ve ever had my hair, ever. Even when I was first born I had a nice head of hair, so this is quite a departure. Maybe I’ll keep it short this summer? Or grow it back out again? We’ll see.