Monday, November 19, 2012

Fall Television 2012: The End of the World and Good TV

It's Thanksgiving break and I'm sitting here at my computer, telling myself I need to write college essays. But now I'm here. My old blog. How I've missed blogging. I figured what the heck, let's give it a whirl once again. See what crap I can conjure up. So without further ado, here is what television knowledge I have accumulated thus far since my last post a million years ago. And... go!

From the show Go On. Found the pic on a NYT blog.
Fall television has started! The new shows are out, a lot of bad ones are still here, and the good few are still hanging on. All is well in the television universe. Except, what shows should I, you, we, us, be watching? I mean, we can't just go on a merry way without getting a look at what's going on. That just wouldn't be me! So the new shows that came out this year include Go On, Guys with Kids, Malibu Country, The New Normal, The Mindy Project and Animal Practice to name a few.

Can I just ask you guys one thing? Who the hell picks these shows? Like, who decides to produce a show with a monkey as one of the characters in show about an animal hospital? Animal Practice, the one I'm referring to, is absolutely horrible. It's not funny nor is it interesting at all. The fact that it stars a monkey in it is just icing on this crap cake.

Don't even get me started on Malibu Country. That's one I haven't even seen and I want to throw up just thinking about it. I was watching TV the other day with my dad and a commercial came on for that show and my dad was like "didn't that lady already have a crappy show that got canceled?" That wasn't verbatim but you get the gist. The show was called Reba  if you were wondering... to the show's defense, it wasn't that bad. It won a few awards actually.

I think the show that scares me the most is Guys with Kids. Not because it's as stupid or trashy as Malibu Country, but because it's being produced by Jimmy Fallon. The show just looks bad and just really not original. This pains me to say this because I absolutely love Fallon. It's true... just read this or this. He's really funny and I love his show. To see him totally selling his new show on Late Night just pains me significantly. Watch this and you'll understand.


It's not like there isn't potential... it's just painfully not original. At all. So many movies have come out recently about parents and babies. And what about Up All Night that just came out last year? I don't even like that show that much but it has funny people and decent original writing. I just really don't see a future for Guys with Kids, at all. Sorry, Jimmy.

 I watched The Mindy Project and was a little bit surprised. . Nothing I would really like to watch again, but it did have it's moments of funniness. I was also hopeful for The New Normal because I liked a lot of the actors they had in it. I wasn't too impressed with the pilot  but I might check in with it later once it's in its groove.

In conclusion, new TV shows kind of suck. I might be one of those old people who only like the "classics" and nothing new, but it's just kind of true. If you want to watch quality television, some of the shows I've been watching lately include: Louie, Mad Men, Dexter, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, New Girl, Saturday Night Live (sometimes), and The Daily Show (my favorite!). Not saying you should watch what I watch... but you should.There are so many great show out there right now. Don't settle for anything less than amazingness! All right, I guess I'll see you guys again... soon? Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Amazing Experience in Japan

I got back from Japan about a month ago. I know I was going to be really cool and blog while I was there, but the wifi availability was kind of sketchy and I didn't have my own laptop and didn't want to use my friend's for long periods of time. Sorry it's taken me so long to get this blog post, but come on it's summer! So, here is what I experienced in Japan. I'll talk about some TV stuff and just some normal stuff too about the culture and my experience.

Ready to leave for Japan with our passports in hand! 
First of all I want to briefly explain how I managed to go to Japan. This year my Japanese teacher announced that Cedar Rapids would have a very good chance in be able to send some students to Japan for free through the Kizuna project. Because our teacher is involved with the Laurasian institute (an organization that worked with the Japanese national government to put this together), Iowa does not have many schools teaching Japanese, and they were looking for places that have had natural disasters (we had bad floods in 2008), Kennedy was pretty much a shoe in. But of course, other Cedar Rapids schools wanted to go as well (as they deserved) so we split it up between the three schools (Wash, Jeff, and Kennedy). Sorry for my obsession with parentheses by the way! Anyway, so to pick which students could actually go on this once in a lifetime trip, we had to apply. I wrote an essay, got teacher recommendations, and gave my teacher a transcript. Within a couple weeks my friend and I were informed that we were both going to Japan! And that my friends, was the beginning of our journey.

Before we left we had to learn a lot about what NOT to do. It may sound weird to us Americans, but there was a lot of these in Japan. It's impolite to stick your chopsticks into food and leave them, to sit on the floor, and even poop without playing music! Not joking about that last one... I made a mistake one time of thinking that a music button was the toilet button. It was awkward. All of these cultural rules were kind of overwhelming and frightening. Once we got to Japan and stayed our first night in Tokyo we realized that we really were in a different culture. And that was a good thing! The Japanese people were all so very nice and welcoming. It became a lot less nerve racking and a lot more fun very quickly.

The beautiful pond.
After our first night in Tokyo we headed over to Fukushima, a large prefecture that was affected by the earthquake last year. The point was for us to see how the society of rebounding from the horrible affects of the disaster. Like remember the nuclear scare? They explained that their crops once detected radiation, but then went through the process of testing their current crops and showed us that in fact they were now radiation-free. The cucumbers that were tested were delicious by the way:) I really liked Fukushima because we got to stay in little cottages next to a beautifully scenic pond with a trail surround it. My friend and I got up in the morning to run around it and explore the wonders it held. To be brief, Fukushima really gave me a perspective on a natural disaster I had never seen before. I realized that it's one task to recover from an earthquake, and an entirely different task to actually return to how it was before. To get families and tourist to once again enjoy the town. I loved Tenei in Fukushima and if you ever want a really amazing hotel in Japan to stay in, go to the Regina Hotel in Fukushima near Tenei, you won't regret it!

Our cute little cottage!  

Alright so after Tenei we boarded the bullet train once again and headed back to Tokyo where we stayed a couple of nights. I. Loved. Tokyo! The shopping was so fun and exciting! During the way we had to go to boring museums, but at night our teacher would let us sneak off and explore different areas of Tokyo. I got to try out karaoke, eat ramen, shop in sketchy basements and super high end stores. It was really really fun.


It wasn't until after I started my homestay next that I encountered a lot of television. Yes, once and awhile I would turn on my TV in the hotel room or cottage to see what it was like, but we honestly didn't have much time to actually watch it. I was so nervous for my homestay. The fact that I was staying in some random family's house, talking a language I have only been studying for 3 years, eating their food, and keeping up with the proper manners, was so daunting. But right away my family was very nice and welcoming. Their house was near Mt. Fuji so they took me to nearby tower to get a good view. We also visited their grandparent's peach farm where I nervously talked to their family while we munched on deliciously ripe peaches and sat in the shade of their peach trees.

My host family.
Once we got back to their house I sat down in their living room and journaled about my day of activites and watched some TV. The show the family was watching consisted of some random talk show hosts talking about various musicians and showing their music videos. I noticed throughout my stay that there were a lot of  shows that were based around music. In fact, those were like the only kind of shows I ever really saw at their house. Maybe the whole show wasn't about showing music videos, but so many of them had some musical element to them. The next morning they had a morning talk show where they had a host and three panelists who were shown various videos and then the audience would watch their reaction to the video. Some were music videos, but there other ones that I don't even remember. It was really weird trying to figure our what was going on because I had absolutely no idea what they were saying.

At the host school.
During the homestay we also got to visit a school where we interacted with the students and learned about what they did on a daily basis. The homestay overall was quite overwhelming because you are deeply immersed in Japanese language in culture. With that said, it was truly one of the best experiences of my life. It was scary, but so much fun! I probably learned more about Japan in those two days than I have in my entire life.

After the homestay, we headed to Kyoto and Osaka where we ended our journey. Again we visited a couple boring sites but were also allowed to roam around and shop once in awhile. On one of the last days, I remember my friend and I were sitting in our hotel room and I decided to turn on the TV to see if I could find any TV to talk about on my blog. We watched a drama while we were getting ready and noticed some differences from American television. First of all the camera and lighting are like strangely different. Not to toot America's horn, but it's just better quality. You can tell that they shovel a lot more time and money into just the picture quality. I've noticed this in Japanese dramas I've watched back in the states in my class, but the acting is different too. It's kind of hard to determine exactly what the difference is because of course they're speaking a different language, but one thing that I've noticed over the years is how comedy is acted out. In Japan, the men always play the goofy almost weird characters and the girls play cute characters that are funny because they're clumsy or make mistakes. In America, you find more often women are funny because either they're totally stupid or they make super witty remarks. Of course there are also clumsy, goofy, witty, or stupid male and female characters in both cultures, but I think our two cultures definitely have a different sense of humor.

Kinkakuji in Kyoto.

Although my two week Japan trip was extremely fun and engaging, I was ready to come home to Cedar Rapids. I missed my bed, my family, my friends, my dogs, and especially the food! I loved the food in Japan, but I will always love my home food even more. I know traveling can be expensive, but if anyone is looking for an amazing place to visit, I would highly recommend Japan. I'm positive that someday I will visit again because I just absolutely loved it. The people were so nice and welcoming and I really felt like I learned a lot about not only the Japanese culture, but my own as well. It really gives you a way to see your own culture from sort of an outside perspective. It was really the best experience of my life.

My host sister and I wrote this with sparklers:)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm Off to Japan!

Hello blog! It's been so long since I've seen you! I've been meaning to blog this summer, but you know... laziness kind of overcomes you when the sun shines and homework is non-existent. But I have so much to talk about. With all the TV I have watched, and all of the buzz going around it, I just really need to share!

I also realized that I'm probably not going to post as much anymore. The fact that this isn't a requirement for a class anymore really makes this a lot less of a priority. So I think I'm going to change it up a little bit. Instead of making any posts on various topics, once in awhile I will make a post combining multiple topics. Sometimes they might have a theme, but mostly I'll just talk about what ever TV stuff is on my mind that day/week/whenever.

So without further ado... my first topic on the agenda is Japan! That's right you read that correctly. I am leaving for Japan tomorrow! It's a two week trip with some of my Japanese classmates that was given to us for free to increase tourism in Japan. What does this have to do with my silly little television blog? Well, I'm really excited to see Japanese television. I'm sure most of you picture some crazy game show (I'll be honest, so do I...), but that's not all Japan has to offer!

They have lots of interesting dramas. We watched some in class like one with a robot boyfriend and another with a teacher whose family was part of the mafia. What I find fascinating about Japanese TV shows is they don't last long at all. They run for like two seasons, with maybe 12 episodes? Then if they were really popular they most likely have a movie. That is so different from American television because one: if a show is good, it will run season after season until the audience grows weary and two: making a movie after a television show is usually a pretty tacky move. When I think of TV movies I think of shows that did not last at all and made a movie for the small number of die hard fans. but not in Japan! TV movies in Japan are a sure sign that the show was really popular and the movie is a like a finale for the show.

Well, Japan is awaiting me. I won't have my own computer, but my friend might let me borrow hers. So with that I will keep my look out for interesting and entertaining television in Japan and try my best to update. I'm so excited to see what I find! Sayonara!:)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farewell for Now

I can't believe the year is finally ending. I hate when people say this cliché, but it really seems like I started this blog yesterday. I remember being so excited, so ready to regurgitate all the random television knowledge I've been keeping in my brain. I couldn't wait to start watching new shows to rant or rave about them, to offer insight and analysis on why certain shows do well or how they are related to others. To talk about my favorite shows and what they mean to me has honestly been fun. If I hadn't had this blog, I think my friends would've been a lot more annoyed this year. I have gotten to write all my thoughts about television on this blog, exponentially reducing the enthusiastic one-way conversations with my unwilling friends.

I'm going to be honest here and say I will not miss the stressful weekends where I had to fit in blogging. The Sunday nights racking my brain for some kind of topic that would be a sufficient word count were not very fun. But, let me add this: I really did enjoy blogging. While other AP Lang students complained about not being caught up on blogging, I thought to myself "why?" It's the only time we can really express ourselves without worrying about being graded on the content. We can write about whatever we desire. We don't have to worry about a teacher reading and grading it, so we don't need to censor our writing. I was able to write just how I would talk, not having to worry about the formalities that go along with normal writing for various school assignments.

I'd also like to mention that throughout this year I hardly ever got off topic! I'm pretty sure a lot of people ran out of ideas on their blogs and started to talk about things other than what their blog was supposed to. But I didn't! Okay, I did a couple times. But for the most part I have been able to crank out TV topics, whether they were interesting or not.

So this is my last blog post. AP exams are finished, I have a million final projects, finals are just around the corner, and then summer will finally arrive, blessing me with stress-free bliss. I think I'm going to miss this blog. I'm going to miss being forced to write about TV. My mind keeps coming up with new post ideas and I will have no where to put them. Luckily this will always be here, waiting for the time I desperately need to talk about a show finale or a new show I like. We'll see if that actually happens...

 So this is it. It's been a great year, but it's time to say farewell. Good-bye blog.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blogging Advice from a Survivor of AP Lang

Dear incoming AP Lang student,

I read a lot of random blogs trying to figure out what I would write for my own. Although no one is probably reading this, I'm going to assume anyway that all the new 11th graders out there, eager to start AP Lang, came right to my blog to seek advice on how to make an amazing and fun blog. Here's my advice to you!

Do not pick a topic that you're not super super super super interested in. Something you wouldn't mind talking about for hours. Something that you have an abundance of ideas about. And if some week you didn't have an idea it would be easy to find inspiration. Pick a topic that you love AND can write about. If you love horses? Great. But if you can't write about them week after week you probably shouldn't make a blog about them. I chose television because I knew it was something I was interested in, had a lot to talk about, and could easily find ideas by (you guessed it) watching TV.

Don't stress out about titles, layouts, fonts, etc. This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you first create your blog you probably won't know what you want it to look like and might freak out. The day in class when Mr. Ayers has you create a blog title and you have absolutely no idea what to call it? Seriously, it doesn't matter. First, it can always be changed. And secondly, no one looks at it. I think my biggest audience is from Russia... Also if you need an idea for a blog name, talk to Ayers. He's pretty good with that  kind of stuff.

Don't get behind. You're probably thinking right now "I'm going to stay up with blogging all year. I'll make a schedule and never get behind!" That's not going to happen. At first its pretty easy, you're able to blog periodically during weekdays instead of saving it for the end of the week. Then you get busy and procrastination takes a hold. All of a sudden it's 11 on a Sunday night and you haven't even started thinking about what you're going to write. That happens to everyone, don't panic! Words of wisdom? Ayers doesn't check blogs every week, just go to bed and do it the next night. BUT! Don't wait until next weekend. Seriously, don't. You'll hate yourself even more if you have 6 blog posts to do next Sunday night.

Please. Take advantage of class time. Mr. Ayers usually gives class time once a week specifically for blogging (or sometimes blogging/working on the current paper). Use it!!! Even if you're just reading articles for inspiration or sitting and staring at your blog. It's really good to start thinking about posts early in the week because it's much easier to think of blog ideas when you've been thinking about it for awhile. I still randomly think about blog post ideas throughout the week. You need to get into that mindset!

Don't give up! Take the time to actually put some thought into your blog. This is a chance for you to truly express yourself without getting graded (other than completion points). A chance for you to talk about topics that your friends, family, teachers, priests, whoever, could care less about. But you do! You get to talk about something that you care about and that you want to talk about. So do it! Have fun with it. Forget it's for a grade. Of course blogging wasn't always enjoyable for me, but because I kept telling myself that I did like it, those times became less stressful and more creative.

So have fun and good luck. You'll lose sleep, but you'll learn a lot. That's a promise!

Former AP Lang Student

Monday, May 14, 2012

House Finale

Next Monday, House will end forever. Not for a short hiatus, not a season finale. The end of the show will be airing next Monday. I have already posted two blog posts on this subject, discussing my acceptance for this end. Check out Letting Go... and Saying Good-bye. Yes all of these titles are very vague, it's more of me trying to be subtle. Not because I'm totally awful at naming blog posts...ha. ha.

So House is ending and I'm not caught up at all. I tried to last Friday, mostly because I needed a break from the acne-ridden stress that has accumulated from AP tests, but I only got through one episode before falling asleep. Not because it was boring! Ok, it might have been a little. But mostly because of my recent obsessive studying. It's really bad when you're not caught up with the last season of a show, mostly because when you innocently click on a video or webpage talking about the season finale, they give away important details. On Facebook I clicked on this video to get myself hyped up for the finale, only to watch a few seconds because I had to quickly click out when House revealed that *spoiler alert* something bad is happening to Wilson. Here's the video. Watch only if you're caught up!! I have no idea if this is actually a good video though, I've only seen about one second.

Even though the show is going downhill, the finale will be amazing. House finales are always amazing. Remember in season 2 House got shot? Or 4 (my favorite) when Wilson's girlfriend Amber and House get in a huge bus accident? Or what about season 5 when House is detoxing from Vicodin but realizes at the end he was hallucinating the whole episode? The list of great episodes, finales or not, goes on and on.

I realize it's sad to say, but I will really miss this show. The days I would come to school Monday mornings, happy because there was a new episode of House on. Or the nights my mom would buy me a big bar of chocolate from the store and I would sit watching House with a warm laptop on my thighs, answering trivia questions as I watched in amazement. Even holidays were spent with my family sitting down and watching House marathons on USA. Or the many times I would enthusiastically talk about the show to my friends who could care less but still pretended to to be somewhat interested (true friendship right there!).

This show has really made an impact on my life. It sounds corny, but it's true. I wouldn't know random diseases, or what Vicodin was, or how incredibly painful and life-altering a drug addiction can be. It showed me how sacred friendship was. How medicine has a huge impact over our lives. Probably the biggest lessons I learned: everybody lies. It may sound depressing, but it's a realization that we all must make. Once we realize this, we can stop lying to others and be true to ourselves. House, although someone who probably let's his true self shine too much, is an example of someone who isn't afraid to be himself. To show his true self. His personality affects all the relationships he has ever had, but because of this he knows that Wilson and anyone else who cares about him truly does care about him. That genuiness is important, and I would never have realized how important it really was without this show.

So I just want to say thank you. Thank you to all who made House possible. You entertained me, taught me, and ultimately got me obsessed with a show drenched in quality. I'll miss you and I hope to see wonderful things from everyone who made this show possible. Especially Hugh Laurie, I cannot wait to see what he does next. It won't be a genius doctor who is a jerk to everyone else, but I know it will be amazing. Good-bye House. I can't believe I'm finally saying this. But, this is my final good-bye.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day episodes on SNL, for some reason, are always hilarious. Anyone remember the Betty White episode? That was Mother's Day weekend. All the really awesome female cast members that had left in previous years came back to celebrate. Anyway my family sat down and watched a clip from last night's episode with Will Ferrell as a guest host. It's pretty great. Happy Mother's Day!