Tuesday, October 31, 2006

That's what she said!

How does a podcast about The Office handle itself during a week in which NBC reruns an episode?

Well, That's What She Said tries to keep on rolling, despite the fact that we already covered "The Gay Witch Hunt" when it premiered in late September.

This week, Matt and I talk about future storylines for the show, one of which includes the Hindu holiday Diwali, which is the focus of the next upcoming episode. (And how did I embarrass myself at an Indian grocery while asking the grumpy clerk behind the counter about this holiday?)

Do the writers who also play characters on the show (B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling) give themselves more material when they write an episode? Does Matt hate Scrubs? Why do I like salt and vinegar potato chips? And what is "googy googy"? Matt also includes the week's latest "Office"-related news, tracks cast members' blogs, and reads listener e-mails (one of which might be mocking our emotional sensitivities).

Any time you want it, Episode #5.5 is available for download, either from the That's What She Said home page or iTunes.) Constructive criticism and feedback is always much appreciated, so if you're suitably inspired, please chime in with some e-mail. Thanks for listening!

Friday, October 27, 2006

World Series worrying

After the Tigers' loss in Game 4 of the World Series, I'm a mess. I didn't sleep. My fingernails are chewed-up nubs. The series isn't over, but it sure seemed over last night, if you know what I mean.

St. Louis is up 3-1 in the series, and could end this thing tonight. The Cardinals' history in such situation actually seems to favor the Tigers, so maybe we'll have baseball in Detroit this weekend. But it's not looking good.

More anxious fretting and lamenting over at Sweaty Men Endeavors. Somebody pass the Tums.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Who are The Sporting Noobs?

Weekly sports talk from guys who kinda know what they're talking about... ?

Learn more at Sweaty Men Endeavors.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Superstition ain't the way

As I write this, Game 3 of the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals is in a rain delay - which is slightly annoying because a) I've now eaten most of the food I saved until game time, and b) I'll now be staying up quite late to see this thing through. On the bright side, however, I'll get to type out this post I meant to write this afternoon.

Obviously, I'm enjoying the hell out of the fact that my Tigers are in this World Series. This is even sweeter than championship runs by the Pistons and Red Wings, because those teams were expected to win the title. The regular season and playoff runs felt like exercises in delayed gratification. But what the Tigers are doing has been fabulously unexpected. Almost every game, I shook my head in disbelief that I was watching a good baseball team again, after a decade-and-a-half absence in Detroit.

And it's all gone by so fast because I've wanted to savor every moment. Before the season started, I picked them to win 85 games and finish third in their division. And that seemed optimistic at the time.

After last night's 5-0 loss to the Cardinals, I'm beginning to feel the twinge of anxiety that makes watching sports both fun and exhausting. My stomach is clenching in fear because my team - behind two games to one in the series - looks like it could possibly lose this thing. And that's brought out my superstitious side. Big-time.

So I spent a good chunk of the day remembering the things I did Sunday night, when the Tigers won. And I have to repeat those things. Because even though it's silly to think that any of these things could've influenced a baseball team playing 500 miles away from me, I've convinced myself that they matter. Because when I did these things, the Tigers won. And when I didn't - such as last night - the Tigers lost.

♦ I have to wear my Pudge Rodriguez t-shirt for every remaining game of this World Series. Will I wash it before every game? Probably not. Is this why I often watch sporting events alone? Probably.

♦ I have to eat a caramel apple - with nuts - before the game. I'm not sure if the brand matters. I guess we'll find out. The one I ate on Sunday was from Whole Foods. This one isn't. Oh, no.

♦ Also before the game, I must rock out to Journey. That wasn't a conscious choice on Sunday. But "Don't Stop Believin'" (seriously) was the song that came up on my iPod when I hit "shuffle." Surely, dancing a little bit and playing some air guitar wouldn't hurt matters.

♦ I have to drink two beers - Stella Artois, to be specific - during the game. Last night, I drank Diet Pepsi and water.

♦ I have to watch the game in the living room, sitting in my dad's old La-Z-Boy, wearing my old, ratty black sweatpants. Not in my bedroom, where I was curled up in my blankie like a woman watching movies that might make her cry.

♦ Oh, and I can't wear socks either. Socks made me too warm and comfortable last night. Sunday night, I was chilly with ice cold toes. But I was awake - wide awake - and paying very close attention to the game, instead of inching toward a toasty slumber.

♦ I have to call Lil' Sis, Mis Hooz, and my buddy Eric during the game. From my cell phone. And we have to talk about the baseball game, not just ask each other how our days went, what we had for dinner, etc. If we can make fun of whomever's singing the National Anthem, that'd be even better.

And I'm sure as hell hoping that typing out a blog entry before the game - which I don't believe I did on Sunday, unless I was working on something for the next day - won't adversely affect my Tigers' chances of winning.

Am I a mess? Well, none of this sounds rational, does it? But it'll all be worth it if the Tigers win. And even if they don't - hey, I got a post out of this anxiety. (I'll just make sure any prospective future Mrs. Casselberrys never read this.)

Okay, it's 9:30 p.m. EST. When the #@$% are they planning on playing this thing?

P.S. (11 p.m.) I'm not sure what was more infuriating tonight: The two-hour rain delay that eventually led to the game's postponement or Blogger being down during that timeframe. You know, I could've gone to the movies. There are a few I'd like to catch before they leave Ann Arbor on Thursday.

Monday, October 23, 2006

That's what she said!

For the first time since doing the "That's What She Said" podcast with Matt, I did not like an episode of The Office. (Well, 2/3 of it, anyway.) Kind of a relief to me, actually, but sure to stir up some disagreement (though I loved the part everyone will be talking about).

This week, Matt and I roll up our sleeves and get elbow-deep in the latest episode, titled "The Initiation." As usual, we break down the week's storylines, the funniest lines (though there weren't many this week), and the tastiest character developments - complete with clips from the show itself.

Matt also includes the week's latest "Office"-related news, tracks cast members' blogs, and reads listener e-mails (one of which might actually score us - or Matt - some free food). Surely, this will qualify him to join Dwight's Army of Champions.

Listening to Episode #5.0 could be just what you needed to get you through the day, whether you realize it or not. (The podcast is also available on iTunes.) Constructive criticism and feedback is always much appreciated, so if you're suitably inspired, please chime in with some e-mail. Thanks for listening!

The left hand of dirtiness

So what was on Kenny Rogers' (not to be confused with the face-lifted country singer, for you non-sports fans) hand in last night's Game 2 of the World Series and why has it been the talk of Detroit (and the national sports media) today?

Was it dirt? Was it pine tar? Was it some clubhouse science project combination of rosin, dirt, saliva, and chewing tobacco? Or is Kenny just a messy guy?

Did he use the substance to gain an advantage and give his pitches a little more dip and dart? Or was he just trying to get a better grip on the ball in 30-degree weather?

Does this make the Tigers pitcher a cheater? Does St. Louis, like, totally hate us now? Or, considering how well Rogers pitched after he was told to clean his hand, does it not really matter? And isn't it just nice to have a World Series that won't end in a sweep this year?

Lots of posts about this "story" over at The Stepblog, Sweaty Men Endeavors.

P.S. Is Pepper Brooks a co-host of FOX's pre-and-post-game World Series coverage? Effin' A!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hawaii Pho-To

[So was that a total stretch for a title? Go ahead, be honest. By the way, I learned more about Jack Lord on my vacation than I ever wanted to know. Hey, they don't just talk pineapple and poi in Hawaii all day.]

I remember Erik Kuselias of ESPN Radio once saying on the air that no one cares about your vacation or wants to see the photos. They don't need all the details; they just want to know that you had a good time, and want to get on with the rest of their day.

So if you just need to get on with your day, I understand. I'll just tell you that I had a great time swishing the sand between my toes, completely zoning out as I watched the bluest (natural) water I'd ever seen wash upon the shore, and knowing that it was impossible to stand out as a dorky tourist (which I always try to avoid on a trip) because I was surrounded by hundreds of them.

Anything else? Well, I'd never really taken the time to appreciate a sunset before. They're pretty damn beautiful. And Kona coffee is really good. I also wish I'd learned to surf when I was younger. Oh, one more thing: Poi is awful stuff that tastes like paste. (And I don't even know what paste tastes like. I wasn't one of those kids.)

Mama Cass and Lil' Sis wanted to take a big trip, to get away from everything that's happened over the past year-and-a-half, and to just enjoy life more. So when they asked if I wanted to go to Hawaii, I said sure (like I'd say no)- not quite believing that it would really happen. But Lil' Sis was persistent and was the point (wo)man on the preparations. This entire trip happened because of her planning. And I'm extremely grateful for that.

No, I didn't visit Pearl Harbor. Four people have asked me that since I got back, one of whom got rather indignant about it. Yes, I have an appreciation for history. Yes, I care about this country. Yes, I like boats, planes, and subs (well, maybe not so much anymore - see below). To those who expressed their "outrage," I'm sorry I didn't consult with you before planning out my trip. You're right; I shouldn't have spent so much time on the beach. What was I thinking? Next time, I'll let you tell me what I should do and just go by that. Okay?

And no, I didn't see anyone from Lost. Yes, I was on the same island (Oahu) and even cruised by North Shore, where I believe the show is filmed. Actually, who knows - maybe I did see someone, but since I still don't watch it that much (though I've tried to catch up), I'm not entirely familiar with everyone on the show. However, I'm pretty sure I'd have recognized Evangeline Lilly if I saw her. She's purdy. I did, however, see plenty of people on the beach who could stand in for Hurley. Yeesh.

I guess I'll try to save the rest for my photo album over at Flickr. I've posted more than a few photos, and I think the whole thing tells the story of the trip quite well.

For instance, what's one way I demonstrated my gratitude as a brother and son? By giggling and snapping pictures with my camera phone when Mama Cass got seasick during our submarine tour. How she didn't haul off and slap me in the face (especially after the fact) for being such an a-hole, I'll never know.

But Mom shouldn't feel too bad - she wasn't the only one who upchucked on that sub. I will probably never take a tour like that again.

However, I'd sure as hell like to go back to Hawaii - especially if it meant checking out one of the other islands. Sis, can we make that happen?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

End of the Century

So CBGB closed on Sunday? Actually, my first thought after reading the NY Times' story on the club's final night was, "I thought it closed already."

It'd been rumored for so long, with all kinds of battles between the club and its landlords, along with movements to save the place where bands like The Ramones, the Talking Heads, and Blondie became famous - or maybe sort of famous, in Sonic Youth's case. (Paul Collins wrote about his one shot at CBGB last week at Slate.)

I'm not going to pretend I have any love or cherished memories of CBGB (which stands for Country Bluegrass Blues, if you didn't know). I never saw a show there. But on my first visit to New York, Mis Hooz made sure to walk me over there so I could see it for myself.

And she laughed in agreement when she saw the "that's it?" reaction on my face. I mean, the bodegas look better, man. Plus, it just seemed so... small, like it could never have possibly contained the rock greatness that it legendarily spawned. How many people got to watch the Ramones play at a time? 25?

So I can't rant with any believability about how CBGB's closing represents the official end of an era and a testament to just how #@$%ing great new wave and punk rock music was. But I guess I do feel a bit sad, because the world sure as hell seemed like a cooler place with a club like that - and all its history - still standing. (And a new one in Vegas just wouldn't be the same thing, would it?)

Edit (7 p.m.): Here's Jon Pareles' eulogy for CBGB from today's New York Times.

Monday, October 16, 2006

That's what she said!

Back from Hawaii, and back into "The Office" for another podcast of That's What She Said. This week, Matt and I talk about last week's episode, titled "Grief Counseling," breaking down the funniest lines and various story developments, complete with actual highlights from the show.

Matt also includes the week's latest "Office"-related news, tracks cast members' blogs, and reads listener e-mails.

Plus, he does a damn fine job of editing the podcast to make it sound like I can string together coherent thoughts without pausing and stumbling for the right words. (Now I just need to get a better sounding microphone, so my "p's" and "s's" sound crisper. Sorry about that, Matt.)

If you get a chance, please listen to Episode #4.0. (The podcast is also available on iTunes.) And tell us (more specifically, tell Matt) what you think. Constructive criticism and feedback is always much appreciated.

P.S. If you listen, make sure you play the podcast through to the very end. Matt included something of a "deleted scene" of our own, which was pretty funny but cut out of the main show.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Keeping the "Lights" on

For those of you that don't know (and I can't remember if it was ever mentioned in the comments or not), my buddy Clint - who has sometimes been mistaken for me (and vice versa); perhaps we're brothers from different mothers - works on the NBC show Friday Night Lights, based on the 1990 book and 2004 film. (You can read his MySpace blog here.)

Clint can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he's an assistant to one of the writers. It's a really exciting opportunity for him (and as you might imagine, I'm more than a little envious - but hey, he took the chance on moving out to L.A. while I'm still treadmilling in Michigan.)

Anyway, Friday Night Lights has been getting great reviews from TV writers and critics around the country. "Great" almost isn't the proper adjective for the praise it's been getting. (Even Tom Shales of the Washington Post loved it, and he seems to hate everything lately.)

Seriously - look at Virginia Heffernan's lead from her review in the NY Times:

"... if the season is anything like the pilot, this new drama about high school football could be great — and not just television great, but great in the way of a poem or painting, great in the way of art with a single obsessive creator who doesn’t have to consult with a committee and has months or years to go back and agonize over line breaks and the color red; it could belong in a league with art that doesn’t have to pause for commercials, or casually recap the post-commercial action, or sell viewers on the plot and characters in the first five minutes, or hew to a line-item budget, or answer to unions and studios, or avoid four-letter words and nudity."

Man, if someone wrote that about something I created (especially a TV show), I'd start crying and probably quit on the spot.

Unfortunately, as Troy Patterson pointed out in Slate on Tuesday, if it's one of the best shows of the new season, it's also drawing some of the worst ratings. Frazier Moore of the Associated Press says NBC "plans to stick with" FNL, but don't TV execs always say that sort of thing? (And hey, NBC's already essentially cancelled Kidnapped - which I was getting into, dagnabbit - by exiling it to Saturday nights.)

And that's where the point of this post comes in. Clint's wondering what non-critics (i.e., TV viewers) think about the show. Is it on their radar? If not, why not? (I think he asked me specifically about whether or not sports fans are watching - and I'll pose that question on my sports blog - but I think it's appropriate here, too. Especially since I know we all enjoy good television.) And if you are watching, what do you think so far?

Of course, I'm sticking up for my friend. I want to see his awesome opportunity continue. But I also hate to see a quality TV show get canned, especially by a network that's clearly struggling, as NBC has been. I have to admit, however, that I haven't watched the show yet, either. I was en route to Hawaii when the season premiere aired. And this week, FNL was pre-empted by the Michigan gubernatorial debate. Though with Game 1 of the Tigers-Athletics series running at the same time, I probably would've taped the show.

(And I suspect that's one reason for the bad ratings. Sports fans are watching playoff baseball. Meanwhile, non-sports fans figure they won't be interested in a show that centers around a Texas high school football team.)

If I'm any kind of hypocrite for asking people to watch when I haven't myself, so be it. I still intend to give FNL a chance - if NBC gives me a chance to keep trying. But chime in here, if you've seen it, and have a minute to pitch in two cents. I know Clint's damn curious to find out why people aren't watching - while also getting the word out about the show.

And yes, I promise I will watch next week, Clint. I will give up Dancing with the Stars (which I should do anyway) for you, you damn handsome man.

Winning keeps you warm

I know I should be posting pictures and stories about my trip to Hawaii - and I'll get to that. But since I've heard from a couple of people that they were disappointed when I didn't write anything about the Tigers eliminating the Yankees from the playoffs last week, I figured I'd point over to my sports blog, Sweaty Men Endeavors, for my posts on the Tigers' new series with the Athletics - otherwise known as the American League Championship Series.

Here's my post for Tuesday night's Game 1. And today's post for Game 2 (two words: Alexis Gomez?!) is hot off my fingertips. At the risk of possibly jinxing the Tigers, history strongly supports their case for making it to the World Series after taking a two-games-to-none lead over Oakland. With the next three games in Detroit (under expected weather conditions that are better suited to football), this thing could end by Sunday.

(And my registration entry for a chance at World Series tickets was just turned down. Dang.)

Mis Hooz, isn't this worth pre-empting Prison Break and House for a few weeks?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rumors of my demise...

I meant to post a message early last week before leaving, but procrastination crunched me right up against a deadline, and I found myself trying to finish a magazine article just before leaving for the airport.

So where have I been? Friends, readers, lurkers, and surfers, I have been in Hawaii for the past week, spending time on the beach in Waikiki with my family. And only now that I'm trying to kill some time before we're set to head back did I finally find the internet station here at the Marriott.

If you've been stopping by for the past week, wondering where the hell I was, whether that damn cold downed me for good, or if I joined the many who finally crapped out on blogging after giving it a good try, I apologize for not saying anything.

Back in Michigan on Tuesday. Did I pick the worst week to go, with the Tigers in the playoffs (and beating the Yankees)? That's what happens when I let Lil' Sis make the arrangements. (Just kidding, Sis. I'm enjoying my 67th Mai Tai.)

, as the ladies with grass skirts and coconut breast cups say here.

(And I didn't get a chance to show what a podcast whore I was before flying out to the islands. Here are links to recent appearances on The Daily Fungo Podcast and That's What She Said. I truly must love hearing the sound of my own voice. Especially when I'm just wearing sweatpants.)