Happy Gobble Gobble

I can count on one hand the number of web sites wishing you Happy Thanksgiving. Then if I multiply that by 10^6 we should have an accurate number.

Ah, but what they don't have is information about soon to be pitched NBC shows; shows in such early stages of development that they are polling the average viewers to gauge reaction on their content.

A while back I somehow got onto NBC's survey list. The email would usually ask what I watched the previous night, what shows I watch regularly or if I've heard of certain actors. Last week I received more of the same but with an added tidbit; 5 pitches for new shows. They gave me the breakdown then asked if I'd watch it or not, if the idea was unique and on what station I expected to see it.

As far as what the shows were, let's just say they weren't going to win any awards.

To a show, the pitches were reality/game show in nature. I almost lost it. (Now Dad, when I say "lost it" I mean "I was perturbed at a very low level, I didn't not do any activities in a huff or decide to yell at a coworker.") Am I the only person left in this great land of ours who really doesn't like reality TV? Who else wishes for more scripts and actors and dialogue and plot twists? Not NBC viewers apparently. The barrel’s bottom has been scraped so bad that I believe we're in a whole new barrel.

I'll give you a run down of the show pitches. I'm sure by doing this I'm violating some agreement I digitally agreed to, but I'm not making any money off this so who cares.

Show 1: Motel Roswell. You guessed it; a family takes over the day to day operations of a motel near the famed Area 51. Their guests include celebrities and alien abductees. I couldn't quit figure this one out. My guess is it's a mix of X-Files meets that restaurant show.

Show 2: Insomnia. This one is simple; take the dance marathon model, remove the dancing, add people who aren't allowed to sleep. I would rather watch Dave Attel but NBC apparently doesn't care.

Show 3: The Gauntlet. Mrs. Invincible mentioned that this was previously a British show, but all I could find was a link to MTV's Road Rules. Apparently this is a mix between Fear Factor and Labyrinth in which contestants are dropped into a maze with dangerous puzzles to solve.

Show 4: Master Blasters. Not to be confused with the giant riding midget of Mad Max fame, this show combines the engineering swagger of Junkyard Wars with the new excitement from Space Ship One of blasting things into the sky. This show will launch everyday objects (chairs, cars, senators) into the low atmosphere.

Show 5: I can't remember the name; we'll call it Survivor 2099. This, heh, far reaching concept drops people in the middle of an alien world and they must use nothing but their wits to return to, I suppose, Earth. Think Amazing Race meets the worst marketers ever.

Seriously, these are the pitch ideas NBC is coming back to its viewers and asking what they think. I wasted no time in telling them they were hacks and should bring Sorkin back to West Wing. I hardly watch TV, but I spend a lot of money on it. So if this is the offerings, I'm going to have to refuse. Lost was pre-empted by the season finale of The Bachelor. I must be in the minority (again) with my TV viewing. I don't watch these Real Single Obnoxious Wife Swapping Makeover Life shows, and I can't imagine why anyone would. They're stupid. The people who watch them are stupid. The people who come up with them are stupid. You're all stupid.

I have an idea, why don't you take the time you waste on watching these shows and go out and make a life of your own? The mind boggles.

Now, there is a difference, I've found, in certain shows. I don't think they have acceptable genres yet, but here we go.

The Secret of the Sphinx. Hitler's Bunker. Wings over Poland. These offerings by the history channel are documentaries. They are real, but not Reality TV. They have scripts, research, narration and usually some facts.

Trading Spaces. Mythbusters. Junkyard Wars. We'll label these shows Hard Hat TV. I don't mind these, they're ok. There's generally something interesting being done, and even if I don't learn something, I can pick up a few hints on how to furnish a game room using nothing but tin foil and wooden daisies.

Fear Factor. Amazing Race. Survivor. I've learned these are called Fantasy Game Shows. I'm no fan of these, that's for sure. There's nothing particularly wrong with them, they are no better or worse than Let's Make a Deal or The Price is Right. Someone does something outrageous or completes a task or answers a question and they win money. Before you had to solve a puzzle with only a few clues, now you have to eat a llama's asshole. Same ol' same ol', right?

The Bachelor. The Simple Life. Wife Swap. These to me are Reality TV. Even though it's extraordinary circumstances that will never EVER happen, they call it Reality TV. So I guess that's what we'll stick to. Reality. You know, because tomorrow you and a stranger could exchange spouses for a month. A Box-of-Hammers could select you out of 25 other people to be the love of their life AND you get 20 million dollars. See? Perfectly average realism.

So the argument is, this isn't reality. If they want reality, they can put a camera in my cubicle for 9 hours. Yes it would be boring and yes it would get canceled. People don't want that. They want adventure, excitement, passion. Just don't call it Reality. That's insulting to all of us who live normal 9-5 lives. Because I tell you what, if Paris Hilton ever came to my office and tried to do my job, it would be Surreal.

There it is. Surreality TV.

Lil Miss Austin fixing Mom and Dad a Thanksgiving day feast at school.

Pilgrim giving Mom the high sign that he's done for the day.

Walking TO Starbucks if fine. Walking back is tiresome.

Someone discovers the science behind reflections.

Morgan, the school hamster, comes home for the weekend.


Life as we know it.

Funny thing. The company I used to work for may go up for sale. Only this time it's not because it's losing money and looking to shore up revenue or because its accounting was less than spectacular.

It's still a rumor, but Rueters is looking to sell Instinet for $2 billion.

That's right. That's a 2 with nine zeros. That's too high for me to even deal with. Of course the day I heard the news on my way into work (because I'm a dork that listens to NPR and the 10 minute Market Place at 6:50) our company's VP gathers everyone together to go over our previously thought to be worthless stock options.

Which leads me to my entry.

I have a disease. I don't know what to call it. I have great organizational skills. I even look forward to large projects that have multiple participants and lots of scheduling and assigning of tasks. The problem? I'm only really good at it when it has nothing to do with real life.

I'm a moderator on a pretty popular comic book message board. It's not Marvel, it's not Dark Horse, it's not even a real company that makes money doing something. It's just a place where comic book creators and talent come together to hang out, network and show off a little. I moderate a forum that deals with "art jams." Those are 5 page stories where each page is done by a different artist, different inker, colorist, etc. It's a lot of work keeping track of who is doing what and when deadlines are.

And I love it.

There's a new idea coming up about how PJ should have Awards, like the Oscars, or more relevant, the The Eisners. (No, not that Eisner.) So while I'm not really sure about this, because it sounds more like a popularity contest, I do drop my hat into the ring on the organizational side by just being a freak and running at the mouth about what committees need to be formed for nominees and submitting rules and categories...

Meanwhile, I have to roll over my 401k into an IRA. I have to decide which health insurance to sign up for. I have to figure out some other adminstrativa that has to do with that hory host that is real life. And yet I have no desire to do so. Yes I'm even a bit quesy thinking about having to call people on the phone and talk to them. I don't want to feel like an idiot.

On top of it all, I have to do my job.

So with Mrs. Austin wanting to start a business, my first thought is, "Oh god, don't ask me to do anything buy make your ads." Our office is a whirling dirvish of papers and comics and photos and computer parts and cameras and trash and CDs. We have all our financials in a filing cabinet, but that's the extent of the organization. Sometimes I get a hair up my butt and really make an effort to organize all our bills, set up online things, create a system and a budget that works so well we would put nary a thought into the process.

Then I give up and log onto Penciljack and mess around.

So, do I qualify for disability somehow?

I'd like to thank the Academy...


Sorry Everybody. You all, everybody!

I have a comment section in this site. Yes, it's weird and you have to click it to take you to the post you want to click on, but it's there.

What I'd like is for someone to explain to me, like I was a 5 year old, is why 51% of America (man you're gonna get tired of that number) thinks it's ok to teach creationism in school. Yes, school is a place of learning, but I'm talking about public high schools and middle schools, not parochial schools that are backed by the church. I pay taxes that go toward funding of public education, so I'd like to know why my kids may be taught something I don't believe. If you want to teach creationism, send your kids to catholic school. If you want to teach science, send your kid to a public school. I don't understand why we have to suddenly include all these faith based ideas in government run institutions. It's almost as if the leader of the country is trying to use his religious beliefs to create some kind of Moral Law...

...oh wait.

Heavily religious groups, some call them Right Wing Nutbags but you won't read that here, are using this latest GOP win for the White House and Congress to push as many little nuggets of Christian brimstone down the public's throat while they have 4 years to do so, and it sticks in my craw because I'm paying for it. My wages are being taxed so I can discriminate against gays, teach my child that although science has shown the world to be 4.55 billion years old, they will also learn that God made the Earth 6,000 years ago. So, is that confusing? Probably as confusing as why states from Nevada to Ohio believe in turning the other cheek and forgiveness and acceptance, but collect weapons and remain bigoted toward any number of non-white, non-straight, almost non-male groups.

Taxation without representation.

I don't mind if you say, in a school, "Here are the main tenants of Catholicism or Buddhism or Islam." I don't mind if you include abstinence as 1 of the many, and the most effective method of birth control. I don't mind if you say how dangerous abortion is and how adoption is a better alternative. But you HAVE to make sure we know they are alternatives and not the only choice.

Text books in Texas will now say marriage is between a man and a woman and abstinence is the only method of birth control. So, sex is dirty unless you're married and according to Texas schoolbooks, there is no such thing as gay sex.

Fuck that.

I know, I know. Sour grapes. I can sit here and quietly (because, let's face it, all 5 of my readers...) snipe from this laptop about how I'm pissy at not having my candidate win the election, but this is the only way I can express myself with the voting complete. I will not back this president to heal the country. I will not reach out to Christian Republicans with the olive branch in hopes we can build a stronger country.

I won't because this administration and this constituency of hatred, bigotry and ignorance is not something I want to be a part of. I will fight to change it. I will get active locally. I will spend money, time and effort to support the candidates who believe as I do. I will battle tooth and nail, and I will fail.

Because this country is run by old white Baptists and Lutherans and Catholics. It's not run by Mexican or Korean Christians, Black Buddhists, Arabic Islamists, Gay men or women, Pagans, 18-35 year olds. Until my voice is represented equally, I will fight a failing battle, a retracted front. But that equality is a long time off, because apparently, 51% of American is old, white, and Christian.

Sorry World.

I wanted to say that with the lack of hockey going on, I've been watching less TV. West Wing let me down since Sorkin left. (I even found out Leo's NOT dead. Assholes.) That was the main goal of this post, I don't know who wrote that first part.

On the plus side, everyone still needs to watch Lost and Scrubs. Best shows on right now. Even if you can catch Futurama or the Daily Show on cable, do so. Futurama was too close to the Simpsons to be effective. Removed for a few months and moved to cartoon network for reruns, it's become a new favorite and a silently genius of a show.

Here's some pictures.

Couple of sleepyheads being cozy.

Have to get her started early.

George and his new neighboor friend, Meo.

Don't let this fool you, this is 0.01% of his day.


That's "Mrs." Shutterbug to you!

Our readers may not realize this, but a good 90% of the photos you see here are taken by our resident shutterbug, Mrs. Austin.

When we two met back in the misty realm of yesteryear, Mrs. A had aspirations for two things, pyschology and photography. Her father was a photographer, well at least he had a lot of equipment. I actually haven't seen him even touch a camera in 7 years. Mrs. A says that he was a good photographer when she was a kid but at some point he just stopped.

That leaves her to carry on, as it were, in her father's footsteps.

To that end I'm very proud to announce that Mrs. A has her first official freelance gig with Austin Monthly Magazine. For those who've visited our house, that's the magazine that comes out each May with the 100 things to do in whatever year it is. Starting January, the magainze will contact her and give her assignments. I'm assuming they would be local. However, she's also been in touch with Texas Monthly, and that would allow her more exotic Texas locations, like El Paso...


All kidding aside, I couldn't be happier for her. She's doing what she wants to do and making it happen all by herself. She doesn't rely on anyone's charity or ride any coat tails. She is her own PR firm and a force to be reckoned with. I'm feel lucky to be her husband.

Good job.

Going back to the election, I was reminded independently of two points.

1) You can be a liberal AND a Christian AND live in Texas.

2) The Presidential race isn't as important as local races. The President is just someone for the French to hate.

Both good points. In my maudlin haze of the post election build up and news frenzy, I probably overlooked several key local events. So let's pick them up.

We got light rail. I won't be able to use it because it can't drop me and LMA off at school and it won't go anywhere near my work. But I did vote for it because it's progress. Yeah, yeah. Taxes will go up. We'll pay for it and not use it. I'll tell you what, if a 2% increase in propertay tax means I don't have to sit on the 360 bridge for 20 minutes every morning, sign me up.

11 states voted for a state level constitutional ban on gay marriage. Mississippi passed it by 92%.

An Oklahoma Senator (Tom Coburn? Someone find me facts...) said that not only is he against abortion, voting to ban partial birth, but is in favor of instituting the death penalty to any doctor found in violation of that ban. So, kill the doctor if he's found violating the sanctity of life that is childbirth. How positively Aesopian.

But that's about it. The Republicans, thanks to redistricting, now have a stranglehold on the congressional seats, so much so I voted for a write in candidate on the sole point of him being a Democrat. It was either that of vote for 1 of 2 republicans. I've seen more equal representation in Thunderdome. Not even locally do I feel the Democrats held or gained any ground or had their voices heard.

But I digress. Mrs. A and I won't even watch West Wing now. Well, that and it sucks any more. Killing Leo was weak as shit. But I've stopped listening to NPR, watching the Daily Show; I'm burned out of anything political.

But it's over now. Time to watch this administration do its job. I know Bush is calling for a unity of all citizens, but unless he changes his stances or allows concessions on certain issues, I'm not standing with him. But I will support his right to lead.


Four more years of winter.

It's 12:14am, November 2nd, 2004.

I've been watching TV since 6pm.

I've been watching my country and my fellow citizens alienate me and leave me wondering why we are called a homogenous people.

Yeah, CNN is balking at calling Ohio, Fox News said Bush was president 2 days ago. To me it doesn't matter. As much faith as I had in my candidate, the Robot did better 4 years ago.

So what now? I'm ready to concede. I'm tired of following politics at this point. Even if the outcome were to change, or was different from the get go, I'd be tired of it. You know why? I'm not in the majority and I'm tired of fighting about it.

I'm tired of thinking gays have the right to get married because they are human and humans have rights. I'm tired of thinking it's odd that people believe in capital punishment but have the temerity to be Right To Lifers. I'm tired of hearing people thinking a goofy ass, knuckle-dragging, good ol' boy who couldn't find North Korea on a map, much less the weapons being held there, is a better leader than a war vet with an Ivy league education and a rich wife.

I want to say "Screw you!" to all the W fans, but I'd be pissing off friends and family, so I'll leave it at this...

Congratulations. You now have four more years of war mongering. Four more years of realizing pointless tax cuts are better than reducing government spending. Four more years of environmental law rivaling Chernobyl recovery. Four more years of "I hate you because my Bible tells me to."

So yeah, if you're happy with all that, congratulations. I plan to silently go insane while I watch Jon Stewart cry on national TV because he too is tired, but happy that he's got 4 years of limitless material.

I'd move to Canada, but the NHL moved down here. Dammit.


LMA/Pilgrim '04

Polls are closing, CNN Headlines news has already called it for the challenger.

That's right, you heard it.

Jon Stewart is the next President of the United States. (Man I wish.)

Anyway, get out there. Vote. For those of you who would rather read this blog than actually watch the results, go push a button or punch a card or check a box or toss an onion or whatever it is your polling location does. Just do it. And if you don't, I don't want to hear it from you about how whoever is in charge is screwing everything up. I abstained from voting in 1996, thinking I was exercising my right to vote by not voting. I didn't like either candidate (or were there 3?) so I didn't vote. That doesn't count today. After 2000, it's obvious every single vote counts toward something. Even though we may not know who will become the ruler of the most powerful nation in the world for days or weeks, that should not stop you from running to the closest school or firestation or library and making your voice heard.

I'll stop with the pitch.

I leave you with LMA doing her best Katharine Hepburn.



So it's been a few weeks, hasn't it? So much has happened, yet it feels like so little.

First, we never heard back from the doctor about LMA's finger. I'd like to think that after you make the trip to the office AND the radiologist, someone would have the temerity to call you and put your mind at ease. These people must work for CPS or something.

Anyway, she's fine. Pilgrim is fine. We're all dandy.

Mrs. Austin, actually, is a little more dandy than the rest of us. Not to spoil anything, but she has an interview with Austin Monthly magazine to be a freelance photographer. Please help me in wishing her the very best. She's put together a portfolio that's pretty stunning so I can't imagine anything but good news coming out of this. I hope me writing about it doesn't jinx it.

Mrs. A's also got press passes to the UIL State Band Competition that's going on tomorrow in San Antonio. She'll be going in an official capacity as photojournalist. I'll be going in an unoffocial capacity as baby wrangler. This is a dream come true of Mrs. A. Taking pictures of lots of marching bands from the comfort of the press box. The rest of us will be freezing our tuckases off in the fridged mid 60's. (Don't get me started on these people and their weather.

But that's not why you're here, to listen to me prattle on about climate and lenses. You want pictures of small people in cheaply made store bought costumes so you can say "Awwww" and quickly check your printers to make sure there's enough of the colored tanks to print off a good 8 1/2 x 11.

Well who am I to deny you such pleasures.

Friendly neighborhood Spidermidget

If there's anything more adorable than a little girl with wings, I haven't found it.

Halloween was pretty good for all involved. Our friends came over and brought LMA's little friend, the The Funky Fairy. So the two fairies hit the town with their bags and buckets, all geared up for a fun filled evening of spooks, kooks and candy. I must say I was a little dissappointed in our neighborhood's lack of holiday cheer, or, ghoulishness. It's simple people, if you don't want Trick-or-Treaters, turn off your light. If you have your light on, have a bowl of candy. If you leave your house, turn your light off. It's not like this day sneaks up on anyone. "Holy Crap, Linda. You didn't tell me today was Halloween. I have no time to prepare!"

We hit one house where there was a light on, decorations out front, door was open and the lady inside actually ignored the doorbell and the trick or treating. Two faries spurned. Funky Fairy's dad made the observation that we had forgotten to bring eggs for houses such as this.

Here here! I say. Egg and TP these houses until they get the message. As I watched the two girls eating candy and watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, I thought back to my childhood and how it seemed every house on the block was lit up and smiling adults with bowls of candy sat expectantly by the front door. Now it's a gamble if you're getting a good house or a crack house and the streets are darker and darker and the kids are getting lazier and lazier. It's not the joyous time I remember anymore, and I'm sad for LMA and Chubbin that they won't know the safety we knew.

Of course, I've also married into a family that doesn't have anyone throwing a football around after Thanksgiving dinner. So maybe it's the state, maybe it's the times.

Maybe it's that I'm old.

Quiet you!