General

The Movie Weekend

Every once in a while I just make a movie marathon out of my weekend. Well, this past weekend was one of those.

Liz and I kicked off the Saturday screenings with [i]There Will Be Blood.[/i] I went in with high hopes, and came out disappointed. There’s a very good movie in there, but they needed to cut 45 minutes from it scattered throughout. While some of it works really well, and Daniel Day-Lewis delivers huge–again–there are just too many stretches that are long and dull. Best movie ofEvery once in a while I just make a movie marathon out of my weekend. Well, this past weekend was one of those.

Liz and I kicked off the Saturday screenings with [i]There Will Be Blood.[/i] I went in with high hopes, and came out disappointed. There’s a very good movie in there, but they needed to cut 45 minutes from it scattered throughout. While some of it works really well, and Daniel Day-Lewis delivers huge–again–there are just too many stretches that are long and dull. Best movie of the year? Uh … no.

Sunday was a day at home, with movies on demand. My afternoon matinee was [i]Ratatouille[/i], which I liked. I didn’t love it, but it was fun. There wasn’t quite as much to the story as I thought there would be, but it was kind of a hoot watching a rat trying to be a gourmet chef in Paris. But even though it had the animated fluffy feel, it was hard to entirely overlook the fact that it was a rat–and sometimes an entire kitchen full of rats–doing the cooking. Thumbs up, but not quite a top 10.

Our Sunday night feature was [i]The Bourne Ultimatum,[/i] the last in the Bourne series. I was in the mood for a good rock ’em, sock ’em get the bad guys kinda flick, and this did the trick. I liked this one best out of the series, with some really intense action sequences. It slipped a little for me in the believability department, given that Bourne became almost indestructable, no matter what kind of beating he took, but it was action thrills across the board.

And for a Monday night capper, Liz and I watched the last three episodes of [i]Lost [/i]Season 3–including that incredible 2-part finale. Season 4 starts on Thursday, and we wanted to get back into it. I had forgotten just how good [i]Lost[/i] can be when it’s really grooving. Awesome.

So that was my movie weekend. I don’t know if I’ll have another any time soon, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend a few days at all.

Jamaican Surprise: My Exploding Eye Socket

Now that I think about it, for a trip that was absolutely great?and it was great?my Jamaican getaway had more than it?s share of bizarre moments. As I noted in my last blog, I had an inexplicable beach anxiety situation one morning, which I ultimately figured out.

But this little act of agony occurred before I even got to Jamaica. So there we were, Liz and I, on the plane, no more than 30 minutes before we were to touch down in Jamaica, when suddenly my left eye starts to feel … weird. AtNow that I think about it, for a trip that was absolutely great?and it was great?my Jamaican getaway had more than it?s share of bizarre moments. As I noted in my last blog, I had an inexplicable beach anxiety situation one morning, which I ultimately figured out.

But this little act of agony occurred before I even got to Jamaica. So there we were, Liz and I, on the plane, no more than 30 minutes before we were to touch down in Jamaica, when suddenly my left eye starts to feel … weird. At first I just chalked it up to a twitch, just one of those little spasms that seem to come and go every once a blue moon. (Well, the moon wasn?t blue, but the water sure was …).

But then it became clear that whatever was going on was more than just a twitch. It kinda itched, and it kinda ached a little. So I rubbed at the corner of my eye a few times, like scratching an itch. But then that wasn?t enough, either. Something else was going on. So I started putting pressure on the corner of my eye socket, which relieved the pain somewhat.

But the pain itself was starting to increase. It was getting more intense. So much so that it actually had me doubled over, with me instinctively putting more pressure on the outside of my eye socket.

At this point it?s like a pencil was actually inside my head trying to force its way out through the corner of my left eye, breaking right through my skull. When it occurred to me that I?d been fighting off the possible beginnings of a cold?I was a little stuffed up?and we were finally starting our descent, changing the air pressure in the plane. And thus wreaking havoc in my head.

Figuring out the cause of it relieved some of my anxiety?but none of the physical pain. I just kept the pressure on, trying to keep my eye socket from exploding, until we touched down. And then in a matter of just a few seconds, the pain went away. Gone.

[i]Poof.[/i]

I?d never felt pain like that, and I hope I never feel it again. But once it was gone, it stayed gone. So even though I started off my Jamaican trip under bizarre circumstances, it ended up a-okay.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/02/09 06:16

Why Was I Stressed in Jamaica?

Funny thing happened to me last week while I was in Jamaica. It was Saturday morning, the first full day there, and Liz and I were up bright and early. We made our way down to the dining hall, and found ourselves a very comfy table for two, outside, in the sunshine, surrounded by small trees and a flower garden. It was goooood.

We both ordered up a big breakfast. Mine was pretty much a do-it-myself hungry-man special I slung together among a few things?Jamaican French toast, crispy bacon anFunny thing happened to me last week while I was in Jamaica. It was Saturday morning, the first full day there, and Liz and I were up bright and early. We made our way down to the dining hall, and found ourselves a very comfy table for two, outside, in the sunshine, surrounded by small trees and a flower garden. It was goooood.

We both ordered up a big breakfast. Mine was pretty much a do-it-myself hungry-man special I slung together among a few things?Jamaican French toast, crispy bacon and two eggs (sunnysine up), toast, water, juice. Like the seating, it was goooood.

Overall, not a bad way to start off the day. Liz and I then made our way to the beach, and found ourselves a nice sunny spot on the small, private beach, literally inches from the water. We camped out on the cushioned beach chairs, laid back, and let the breeze do its thing.

And yet even though I didn?t have a care in the world, I was really nervous. My heart was pounding away, just racing. I figured that maybe I was still a little jag-lagged, or maybe all the blood had rushed to my gut to digest that enormous breakfast, so I tried not to worry about it, which I didn?t.

After a bit I went for a swim, chilled out in the hammock, went for another swim. But it wasn?t until noon or so that my heart rate settled down and I was stress free. And the stress never came back. It was just that one three-hour block. I was fine the next day as well.

It wasn?t until the third morning, however, that I figured out the source of my earlier stress. Liz and I were back at breakfast?just another gorgeous morning?and the waiter came along asking if we wanted coffee. Liz ordered decaf, and since I don?t drink coffee, thought I might go for some green tea. And since they didn?t have decaf green tea, I passed.

And then it hit me. I had a cup of tea that first morning?caffeinated tea. No wonder my heart raced! I normally don?t drink tea, and when I do, I try to drink decaf. So for a guy who tries to avoid caffeine, a cup of tea is like snorting speed (not that I?d know that; I swear!).

Mystery solved.

And lesson learned. When hiding out in the land of peace, let it be caffeine free.

Status Check: What?s Up with Finders Keepers?

It?s been a little while since I gave you guys a Finders Keepers update, so here?s the skinny:

As I noted last month, I embarked on an ambitious quest to prune Finders Keepers down to size. Because the manuscript was a little long, I knew I had to cut some, and dealing with the realities of being a relative unknown (at this point) in the publishing world, I need to treat Finders Keepers like a song that?s not quite radio-friendly length. As Billy Joel said so spot on in [i]The Entertainer[/It?s been a little while since I gave you guys a Finders Keepers update, so here?s the skinny:

As I noted last month, I embarked on an ambitious quest to prune Finders Keepers down to size. Because the manuscript was a little long, I knew I had to cut some, and dealing with the realities of being a relative unknown (at this point) in the publishing world, I need to treat Finders Keepers like a song that?s not quite radio-friendly length. As Billy Joel said so spot on in [i]The Entertainer[/i], ?if you wanna have it, you gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to 3:05.?

And so it goes for me.

Thing is, how do I actually do the cutting? What?s the process for doing most successfully? As I noted in an earlier blog, I went through the entire Finders Keepers manuscript?in random order?twice, reading each once from top to bottom, and then from bottom to top. In doing so I managed to clip away a considerable amount of text?two words here, four there?and without trimming anything vital. That really got Finders Keepers nice and slim.

And now I?ve gone through the entire process again. I spent the last three weeks re-reading my already pruned version of Finders Keepers (again, reading each graph twice each) just make to sure I didn?t miss anything the first time around. And sure enough, I found more to cut. Again, I didn?t trim away anything major. All the chapters are still there, all the characters too. And I kept all the jokes that still made me laugh. What I did cut were just little bits and pieces I could live without.

It?s amazing how much there is to trim when I got down and dirty ruthless. There were multiple spots where I realized I used the same joke?or same joke structure?twice in one chapter, or even a single page, when only once was necessary. That allowed me at times to cut away 20 or 30 words in one shot, and sometimes multiple lines as well. At other times, I realized I had simply over-described a scene, and was able to cut an entire paragraph, as I was slowing down the momentum. And yet other times I had 10 lines of dialogue when the same exchange was just as effective?or funny?with five lines.

And much to my surprise, I really got into it. I challenged myself. How many words could I clip without interfering with the story I wanted to tell and in the way I wanted to tell it?

Here’s an example about one of the main characters, Theo Karnes:

The original text I had was:

[i]He couldn?t shake the feeling that someone might be after him, that he had a crazed stalker of his very own.[/i]

Here’s the new version:

[i]He couldn?t shake the feeling that someone might be stalking him.[/i]

I think you can see that the new version is just as effective, using only 11 words instead of 21. Also, the original version said [i]crazed stalker[/i]. What other kind of stalker is there? So [i]crazed[/i] isn’t necessary. And if Theo felt like he had a stalker, of course someone would be after him, so again, that wasn’t necessary. So here I was able to cut 10 words without sacrificing meaning. If I do this throughout the entire manuscript, which originally came in at more than 128,000 words, I think you can see how the total words to cut will add up.

So now that I?ve wrapped up my second round of pruning?I made notes by hand on page?I?ll spend the next week or so entering the changes directly onto the file.

Once that?s done, and the manuscript is leaner and meaner than ever, I will print out and re-read Finders Keepers straight through, but this time checking only for flow. No more pruning. I need to ensure that it reads as well as I intended now that the trimming is done. Did I over-trim? Did I get it right? Do I need to make any minor tweaks here or there?

After that, I?ll ship the finalized version off to the agent I?ve been dealing with, and then we?ll see how it goes from there. But I?ve gotta say, at this point I?m feeling really good about the progress.

This three-day weekend will give me a chance to get quite a bit done manuscript wise, so my plan is to knock out a nice big chunk by early next week. I?m sort of curious myself to see what the final tally will look like. Pruning the manuscript (twice) is one thing?and absolutely necessary?but making sure that it all holds together is something else entirely.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/01/20 07:51

Russ?s Top 10 Movies of 2007 (updated 6-22-08)

Now that I’ve finally seen enough movies, I’m finally able to do an entire Top 10 list of 2007. And as is true of most Top lists, this is a mix of the movies I thought were the best technically, and the ones I simply enjoyed the most.

[b]Russ’s Top 10 Movies of 2007[/b]

[i]10: The Bourne Ultimatum: [/i]My favorite of the Bourne movies, this one has some intense action sequences, while wrapping up the trilogy. Even for a movie like this it loses a little in the credibility factor-Now that I’ve finally seen enough movies, I’m finally able to do an entire Top 10 list of 2007. And as is true of most Top lists, this is a mix of the movies I thought were the best technically, and the ones I simply enjoyed the most.

[b]Russ’s Top 10 Movies of 2007[/b]

[i]10: The Bourne Ultimatum: [/i]My favorite of the Bourne movies, this one has some intense action sequences, while wrapping up the trilogy. Even for a movie like this it loses a little in the credibility factor–Bourne takes just too much of a beating to keep on trucking–but it was a kick-butt way to spend two hours. The on location shoots help sell the film, as does it’s no-nonense approach. There’s one sequence in the London subway station that’s especially intense and very, very cool. If you liked Casino Royale, you’ll like this.

[i]9: 3:10 to Yuma: [/i]This is just a good ole’ rootin’ tootin’ western with good performances, tense action and a moral fable mixed in there somewhere. Christian Bale as the reluctant hero and Russell Crowe as the man in black give their usual good performances, but Ben Foster as one of Crowe’s cronies steals every scene he’s in. It feels a little long in places, but it was tense and twisty with lots of guns a’ blazin’. Two hours well spent.

[i]8. Juno: [/i]This indie darling has a lot of great performances and a fairly simple plot?a teenage girl with an unwanted pregnancy gives the baby up for adoption?that could have gotten predictable, but didn?t. The script is almost a little bit too quirky for it?s own good with the lead character a bit too wise and together for her age, but it held me throughout and will likely hold up on multiple viewings.

[i]7. Dan in Real Life: [/i]For reasons I?m not quite sure about, Dan in Real Life didn?t connect with viewers the way Juno did, but it?s just as good, and had me feeling good. Dan Carrell scores again as a 40-ish widow with three girls who meets a new love during one weekend visiting his goofy family. Nothing fancy, just a quality, down-to-earth comedy that hits the right chords.

[i]6. The Lookout: [/i]Intense heist movie about a young 20-ish hotshot in the Midwest whose life goes terribly wrong. And then he gets mixed up with the very worst people. Had my heart pounding from beginning to end. Not to be missed.

[i]5. Gone Baby, Gone[/i]: The brothers Affleck Ben (directing/writing) and Casey (acting) both suprised me quite a bit, delivering a gritty crime story that had me sucked in from the very first frame. While by no means a fun movie, Casey Affleck is a young private investigator trying to track down a 5-year-old girl who was kidnapped, and is presumed dead. The characters are real, the twists are good, and though I never thought he had it in him, Casey Affleck really carried the lead of this movie which also had Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman and Amy Adams, who got an Academy Award nomination. Impressive across the board.

[i]4: The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters: [/i]Who would have thought that a movie about Donkey Kong would be so fascinating? Well, it is. This documentary examines the best Donkey Kong players in the world, including the 25-year high score champion, and a newbie who claims to have the new high score ever. But is his score real? Is the fix in? This documentary has characters to care about, heroes and villains, and all the folks who fall on either side of the coin. The King of Kong might take place in the world of competive video gaming–in this case, Donkey Kong–but it’s about so much more.

[i]3. Michael Clayton: [/i]George Clooney hits another winner as a corporate fixer who has pangs of morality after decades of being morally and ethically questionable, if not bankrupt. Intense and complex, I?m not sure if I totally bought the ending, but it?s well worth the effort.

[i]2. Knocked Up:[/i] Laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end that had me smiling the whole way through. The most fun I?ve had at the movies since 40-Year-Old Virgin.

[i]1. Zodiac: [/i]Often overlooked, this detailed retelling of the search for the Zodiac serial killer in San Francisco back in the 1970s just draws you in deeper and deeper and deeper. Thorough and compelling, you feel like you were the ones with many sleepless nights trying to put together a puzzle with very few clues, driving you to obsession. If you missed this one, go rent it. Now.

[b]Worth Noting:[/b]

[i]No Country for Old Men: [/i]I know this has been the critical darling, but it has one fatal flaw. The first 90 minutes are brilliant. Absolutely stunning. The last 20 minutes are flat out ridiculous, ruining an otherwise tremendous movie. And for any critic who says that the non-traditional ending is just the work of a creative mind and that I need to be more open to things, they can stick it in their ears. Should have been the year?s best movie. And it almost was. I?m not saying you shouldn?t see it, but that ending is a head-scratcher.

[i]There Will Be Blood: [/i]There’s a very good movie in here, and Daniel Day-Lewis is incredible, as always, and would be quite deserving of an Academy Award for Best Actor. But this movies was simply too long, and too slow too often. The critical acclaim is overblown. This could have been very, very good–and it is, in places–but they should have cut 45 minutes out of it. There’s just not enough meat at two and a half hours. Be prepared for some general disappointment.

[b]2007 Movies I still hope to see:[/b]

The Savages

The Assassination of Jesse James

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Rejuvenation Revelation – Feelin’ Good

Now that I?m well rested and back from Jamaica (more on the trip later), I?m back, baby. Oh, [i]man[/i], am I back.

And I have to thank Liz for our trip, because it was her idea. I immediately seconded it, naturally, but right after Thanksgiving Liz said to me, ?I need it.? Thing is, I really needed it too. It?s just that, at the time, I hadn?t quite realized just how much that was true.

In one of my more recent blogs I noted how I had had an unexpected hour or negativity, and that I hNow that I?m well rested and back from Jamaica (more on the trip later), I?m back, baby. Oh, [i]man[/i], am I back.

And I have to thank Liz for our trip, because it was her idea. I immediately seconded it, naturally, but right after Thanksgiving Liz said to me, ?I need it.? Thing is, I really needed it too. It?s just that, at the time, I hadn?t quite realized just how much that was true.

In one of my more recent blogs I noted how I had had an unexpected hour or negativity, and that I hadn?t felt like myself at all during that strange, strange hour. And yet that really wonky 60 minutes was actually very good for me. It made me realize, finally, just how much of a toll last year took on me, and that I [i]really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really [/i]needed to get out of my head?out of my life?if even for just a few days, and reset.

And now that I?m back, I?m really back. I?m rejuvenated. The Russman has returned (cue goofy [i]Oh, yeah [/i]music here).

So what do I mean? I mean that I?m re-energized. I mean that I?m looking ahead at 2008 and seeing it as a blank canvas with limitless possibilities and opportunities, rather than a year where I try to do my best given the circumstances. It means that I?m not just thinking positive again, but also with hope and enthusiasm. It means that when other people gripe I don?t join in, but either smile and nod, offer something encouraging, or walk away.

It means that I?m back to being me. Which isn?t to say that I?m in some constant state of go-for-it euphoria?I?m not?but I?m seeing possibility again when I had come to see problems. I?m seeing potential where I had come to see roadblocks. I?m over that hump of feeling like I just need to get by, back to seeing each of my days as a new chance to do something worth doing.

(Sorry if I?m sounding like a made for TV special, it?s just a relief to be feeling like my old self again).

So without rambling on any more, I?ll just say that I?m looking forward to a great 2008, and plan to have much to report along the way.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/02/09 10:38

Jamaica Baby!

Just a quick note here …

Liz and I are off to Jamaica tomorrow morning for a little fun in the sun. We should get to the resort around noon, and then be back around 11 pm Tuesday night.

We’ll be staying at a boutique hotel (50 rooms), with a private beach. It’s one of those all-inclusive deals, so we’ll be eatin’ and drinkin’ our money’s worth, you can bet on that! For the most part we plan on just doing a whole lotta nuthin’. Maybe we’ll do a little snorkling and windsurfing, but thJust a quick note here …

Liz and I are off to Jamaica tomorrow morning for a little fun in the sun. We should get to the resort around noon, and then be back around 11 pm Tuesday night.

We’ll be staying at a boutique hotel (50 rooms), with a private beach. It’s one of those all-inclusive deals, so we’ll be eatin’ and drinkin’ our money’s worth, you can bet on that! For the most part we plan on just doing a whole lotta nuthin’. Maybe we’ll do a little snorkling and windsurfing, but this will be a low-impact, low-energy vacation, which is right up my alley.

If I get really adventurous, I might try reading a book, but we’ll so how that goes. Those beach drinks can get in the way of any real brain power.

I’ll report back next week with some tales from Jamaica, so until then …

Forgiving the Subway Wankers!

My trip home last night was … interesting.

After a long, but productive day at the office I rewarded myself with a trip to the comic shop, and picked up a few books for my trip to Jamaica (woo hoo!). Before I hit the subway I stopped off for an acceptable slice of pizza, and did some minor editing on Finders Keepers while I chowed down.

So far, so good.

And then came the subway. Less good.

Because the comic shop I go to–Midtown Comics–is, not ironically, in Midtown, I walMy trip home last night was … interesting.

After a long, but productive day at the office I rewarded myself with a trip to the comic shop, and picked up a few books for my trip to Jamaica (woo hoo!). Before I hit the subway I stopped off for an acceptable slice of pizza, and did some minor editing on Finders Keepers while I chowed down.

So far, so good.

And then came the subway. Less good.

Because the comic shop I go to–Midtown Comics–is, not ironically, in Midtown, I walked over the 42nd Street subway stop at Bryant Park, planning to take either the F or V train, whichever one I could best get a seat. Not a bad theory.

Well, when I got down to the platform, about 10 minutes went by before any trains came by. And in the distance, in a mumbly, not quite decipherable message, one of the MTA technicians was saying something about Queens-bound trains, but whatever it was, it likely wasn’t optimal news for me. Still, I decided that I was having a good night and wasn’t going to give in to subway grumbling.

So I waited … and waited … and waited, and a few other twists and turns not worth getting into, the train I finally got on sat on the tracks for a few minutes and was then taken off line, so I had to get back out on the platform, and wait for yet [i]another[/i] train. Naturally, the car is fairly packed because many other people are in the same boat. But with seating limited–and with my bad back–I try to scope out any empty seats, and if I can’t get one, wait for the next train. Standing just wrecks my back.

By this point I’ve been on the platform for half an hour, and yet my resolve is good. I still refused to give in to subway grumbling.

I finally got on my train, and see an empty seat. Nice. I’m not a rude subway guy, in that I won’t push people aside to get a seat, and I always let people off the train before I get on. I see that getting the seat I want won’t be easy, but I’m in line, so I’ve got a shot. But as happens in New York City, some … woman (I was going to use a more colorful word to describe her, but patience prevails) barrels past me and snarks my seat away.

Thrilling. So now I have to stand the whole way into Queens, and it takes about another 45 minutes, with a few delays.

Coincidentally or not, I was listening to my hero, motivational speaker Zig Ziglar at the time, on my iPod, and as I’m trying to sooth my achy back, he’s talking about forgiving those who do us wrong, not necessarily because it’s easy or right, but because it’s good for [i]us[/i]. It lets us off the hook and allows us to move on . So I smiled. A big honkin’ smile.

If there’s any lesson for me in this tale, it’s that I can let the subway wankers of the world ruin my day (or night), or I can try my best to forgive them for being wankers.

I admit, some days I’m far less forgiving than others. [i]Far. Less. Forgiving.[/i] But for at least one night, I was able to forgive those subway wankers for being who they are, and a tough ride home wasn’t so bad after all.

Negativo? Don’t Believe-o!

For a whole combination of reasons, last night, for about an hour, I found myself mired in a quickly spiraling decent into being big time negative. And as I heard myself I talk, the whole time I’m thinking: [i]Dude, who are you? What are you saying? You’re a pod person. Abort! Abort![/i]

And not long after this bizarre hour, I was back out of it, bewildered, but at least chuckling a bit. Because, as anybody who knows me knows, I’m not a negative guy. I’m just not. Generally speaking, I’m loFor a whole combination of reasons, last night, for about an hour, I found myself mired in a quickly spiraling decent into being big time negative. And as I heard myself I talk, the whole time I’m thinking: [i]Dude, who are you? What are you saying? You’re a pod person. Abort! Abort![/i]

And not long after this bizarre hour, I was back out of it, bewildered, but at least chuckling a bit. Because, as anybody who knows me knows, I’m not a negative guy. I’m just not. Generally speaking, I’m looking towards the future, excited to get there.

So one question is: why did I get wrapped up in this mini-spiral of negativity and self-pity? There’s a bunch of reasons, but one is that I haven’t been giving my brain a rest of late. My spirit either. Throughout my entire life, as far back as I can remember, I’ve had tendencies to want to do too much, like the normal limits of the human body and mind don’t necessary apply to me (I know, I know, but what can I say? I’m working on it…).

At present, I’m plugging away on pruning Finders Keepers, which generally I love to do. I’ve already read the entire manuscript three times all the way through, and I’m about 80 percent done on the fourth read.

To do so, however, I’ve not only been reading early in the morning, but also on the subway on the way to work, on my lunch hour and on the subway on the way home from work. Those are normally the times when I just have me time–that time where I can just let the steam out of my head and chill; doing nothing; recharging?but instead I’ve been working.

Too much. Too much.

I haven’t been giving myself the breaks I need every day to stay focused and energized overall. In my desire to plow through and be working at maximum efficiency all the time, I’ve burned myself out a bit. I haven’t been allowing my natural ebbs and flows to do their thing. I’ve been messing with the wiring.

Well, that’s over. Which isn’t to say that I won’t be putting in the extra time to get through the manuscript this one last time, it’s that I’ve been out of balance–and I need to get back in balance. So maybe I’ll read pages on my lunch hour, but not on the subway going to or from work. Or maybe I’ll just take a few days off from reading pages altogether. It?s not like my world will end if?heaven forbid?I take a few days off (gasp!).

And besides, starting Friday I’m off to Jamaica this weekend for a nice 4-day vacation (shweet! more coming on that tomorrow), so that’ll surely help get my system back on track.

I also haven’t been getting outside and away from my desk much of late, because of the lousy weather, and I haven’t been taking enough of those little breaks throughout the day to meditate a few minutes, or just stretch my legs. You can bet your sweet you-know-what I’m putting those back on track as of this writing.

So what contributed to my little bout of negativity? It was my being unrealistic, pushing myself beyond my reasonable limits. Sometimes I need these reminders that, while goals and ambition can be good, if they come at the expense of my overall balance and harmony, then I need to reconsider my approach and whether what I’m trying to achieve–and in the time frame I’ve set out for myself–is worth it.

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Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/01/09 09:03

Russ?s Top 10 TV Shows of 2007 (updated)

Before I get into my Top 10 Shows of 2007, I want to note that this list encompasses the end of the 2006 season and the beginning of 2007, which was shortened due to the writer?s strike, and therefore made the selections a little tougher this year. (And some shows moved up or down on my list without having aired any new episodes this season yet; hey, my list, my rules). Also–and I can’t believe I did this–I left off one of my top shows of the year with my initial list, so this is my most-up-toBefore I get into my Top 10 Shows of 2007, I want to note that this list encompasses the end of the 2006 season and the beginning of 2007, which was shortened due to the writer?s strike, and therefore made the selections a little tougher this year. (And some shows moved up or down on my list without having aired any new episodes this season yet; hey, my list, my rules). Also–and I can’t believe I did this–I left off one of my top shows of the year with my initial list, so this is my most-up-to-date ranking. With that, here?s my list from 10 counting down to numero uno:

[b]10. The Sopranos:[/b] Yeah, that cut to black last frame is a head-scratcher, and as much as I try to reconcile it, I?m still annoyed that David Chase didn?t give us a more concrete conclusion to this epic series. That said, the last season of The Sopranos was full of power and pain, with A.J.?s half-assed suicide attempt one of the series great episodes. Not quite Sopranos at its very best, but a powerful season in all.

[b]9. House: [/b] Slipped a bit for me in Season 4 so far, as the Survivor bit for new cronies wore on a bit long for me, but I still love watching that crabby SOB do that thing that he does so well.

[b]8. Entourage: [/b]The last season was a little uneven. Vince became more vain than ever, and Drama became a complete and utter moron, even for him. But it was still my can?t miss show of Sunday nights.

[b]7. Damages: [/b] Gritty, suspenseful and plenty of twists. Glenn Close, as always, was great. But Ted Danson as a greedy, conflicted?and murderous?CEO really stole the series. Damages was almost ? almost ? too twisty for its own good, but all in all, a can?t-take-my-eyes away season.

[b]6. Life. [/b]The murder of the week format works fairly well here, but the character of Charlie Crews–a homicide detective who was recently released from prison after serving 12 years for a murder he didn’t commit–is a blast. His philospher cop just baffles the department, and his partner, but they make it work. It’s strangely life-affirming for a show with weekly murders, and it’s just delicious fun as Charlie searches for the wonks–including some bad cops–who framed him in the first place.

[b]5. The Office: [/b]Season 3 was great; season 4 ? not as much. I still look forward to it immensely, but those hour-long episodes to start the season were actually too long. There?s a reason The Office is a half hour. That?s where it works best. Actually, those super-size episodes might even top it. So maybe The Office is best at 40 minutes. Still, if The Office is on, I?m watching.

[b]4. Mad Men: [/b]The (second) best show on TV that nobody seems to be watching. Set in 1960 about advertising executives on NYC’s Madison Ave.–thus, Mad Men–this is a dark, moody show with complex characters who show one self on the surface while another one lurks just beneath. It also portrays a corporate America from a time that seems unfathomable by today’s standards. It’s almost hard to believe the working world was really like that. And wow, they drink and smoke–a lot–at the office. HBO has admitted to making a momumental mistake when it passed on this show. It might be on AMC, but search for it. It’s so worth it.

[b]3. Battlestar Galactica: [/b]That two-hour mini-series rocked pretty good, but I hate waiting so frakin? long for the whole series to return. Totally intense. This ain?t the 1970s show by a long shot.

[b]2. The Wire: [/b]Season 5?it?s final season?starts this weekend, and I?m drooling over it. Season 4 of The Wire was one of the single best seasons of any show. Ever. Seriously, it was that good. It?s not exactly feel good, but it?s so good. I can?t rightfully expect season 5 to be as good as season 4, but I can hope.

[b]1. Lost: [/b]Best. Season finale. Ever. Wow.

——-

Honorable Mentions:

[b]Reaper:[/b] I admit, this show hasn?t quite lived up to its potential, but it?s still goofy fun, and I look forward to it each week. The Devil is a snarky dude doing the things that only the Devil can make somebody do. Sweet.

[b]Aliens in America: [/b]I’m not sure if many people are watching, but this is a great little half-hour comedy about a high school dork whose parents agree to sponsor an exchange student, not realizing that he’s from … Pakistan. It’s a buddy show, a fish-out-of-water show, but mostly it really nails the awkward sense of being a teenager, regardless of where you’re from. Definitely worth checking out.

——-

Biggest Disappointments:

[b]Heroes:[/b] Rarely has a show done so little with so much. I keep watching, and keep hoping they?ll get it right, but they?ve managed to completely ruin both finales. When they get the season going again, they need to consolidate the storytelling and bring back the fun.

[b]Grey?s Anatomy: [/b]Completely lost its way. Used to be fun, now it?s just tedious.

[b]The Bionic Woman: [/b]Man, they really dropped a stink bomb. Had potential to kick butt. Instead, it was just muddled and dull.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2008/01/06 15:51

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