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Television in Review ‘12

My television watching is usually limited to sporting events, satirical political commentary, feature length films, and cartoons. Very little irks me like terrible television, so I do my best to avoid J.J. Abrams, stay Lost on the Fringe in Alcatraz with your Revolution! There’s a special place in hell for television shows that prolong story arcs solely for the sake of demographics. The following is my list of supplementary entertainment, from the worst of television to the best of this passing year:

Homeland

This show is the worst of the worst. Take a moment to list the pros and cons of the protagonist's reckless behavior, ask yourself why she hasn't been maimed, let alone indefinitely detained, then continue to suspend common sense if that's what you're into. While critics only now seem to be questioning the show's gaping holes, rest assured I was up in arms since season one. No Bueno!

Walking Dead

As an athletically fit man, I can’t respect walking zombies after 28 Days Later mastered the genre; infected or undead, a walking foe limited to arm’s length is not a threat to any mobile person with a sense of direction. Maybe I ask too many questions: how long before the epidemic starves itself? Why hasn’t anyone built a moat? And who is mowing these lawns?! No Bueno!

Spartacus

Each episode of seasons one and two were individually epic. After two seasons set in captivity, I shuddered at the notion of open world locations, and how such a leap would damage a perfect storm’s execution; coupled with the unfortunate demise of Andy Whittaker, Spartacus is officially unwatchable. No Bueno!

Scandal

There’s a limit to the number of times I can listen to someone solve international political issues through their intuition. Shonda Rhimes continues to fine craft dramas perfectly suited for women; don’t be deluded, this is wrestling for females, like a parody of maternity. Trust me, believe me, I know, I can tell, it’s a feeling. No Bueno!

Game of Thrones

Many people will try to belittle your intelligence for not fawning over HBO’s greatest achievement since The Sopranos. People will argue that action isn’t everything, that the dialogue is succinct and will not coalesce with the dimwitted - for real? This show makes me want to consider reading the book, and definitely not watch this show; I would rather watch Jeopardy while reading a Lobo comic. No Bueno!

Newsroom

Best opening seven minutes of a television show debut ever. I remain devastated by the gradual slide from a news drama with romantic comedy, to a romantic comedy with news drama; now it's Sex in the City with old news! May tune in to the first seven minutes of next season. Bueno!

Boss

Even after this messy season’s smug ending, I am gravely disappointed to learn this show was cancelled. The first season of Boss was a GEM. The second season didn’t deliver, and derailed like Heroes; as if, season two were similarly written on the fly. Bueno!

Shameless

Ever hear guys talk about how they would marry an actress based on her portrayal of a movie character, and you think how dumb that sounds? I would marry Emmy Rossum; Emmy Rossum, I would marry you. This dysfunctional family is FUNNY, SMART, FUNNY, and builds characters you want to slap, congratulate, or marry. Muy Bueno!

Mad Men

Played catch up with Seasons Four and Five this year, remains the sexiest show on television; see thirty two minutes into season five - episode five for clarity. Slight nitpicking: the producers should be desperate for better fight choreographers, they missed an epic opportunity. Muy Bueno!

Breaking Bad

Not much to say here, from season one through the first half of its final hurrah, it’s been business as usual: Best show on television. Second half of the final season resumes in 2013! Muy Bueno!

Honorable Mentions

  • The series finale of House was weak by the high standards set by this great show, Hugh Laurie will be sorely missed, and his deductive powers will thankfully not supplanted by Jon Miller.
  • Boardwalk Empire has been on my radar forever, will make the time in 2013.
  • The BBC’s Sherlock turned out better than America’s Elementary garbage!
  • Need to catch up on Nurse Jackie, her drug addictions recall fond memories of my cigarette and alcohol abuse.

The Importance of Preparation

The difference between tardy people and punctual people is preparation. We tardy people make basic assumptions about departures and arrivals; for instance, if we need to be there at four, and the journey is an hour long, then we should be oblivious to travel arrangements until three. That's exactly how it happens; that or the two train from Flatbush Avenue gets held up at President, until you're late, even though you left early. You know who I really respect? People who iron their clothes the night before wearing them; those people are going places, and they plan to arrive on time.

Any regular reader will know I have failed in my quest to write every day, please accept my apologies. What happens is, every day I plan to write at a certain time, preceding other responsibilities, then completely avoidable circumstances throw a wrench in my agenda! Content certainly hasn't been a problem, as I have a long list of topics to cover at any given time; on the other hand, like choosing clothes in the morning, picking a topic can take anywhere between fifteen minutes to an hour of Spotify shuffling.

With the New Year approaching, it would be all too cliche to announce some sort of *time management resolution*, so I won't. I will continue trying my best to deliver on my promises, and that means better preparation: more drafting and queuing posts ahead of time. So stay tuned for a daily stream of me! And if I don't deliver in this space, then I promise to publish a regular post the next day, alongside a well written explanation for the day before; or a link to this post if I don't have the time...

Mom's Android

Mom's Android is an Amazon Kindle Fire, purchased before the Apple iPad Mini, or the Kindle Fire HD were available. To better understand my mother's computer skill-set, please understand that her first text message prompted a family meeting. Her Android was intended for listening to music, introducing her to email, and reading; at the time the price justified the lack of a camera and microphone. I should have known that handing her an impersonal stock tablet was callous of me. If she never got a grasp of the iPod Mini I bought and pre-loaded music on, then it was inevitable that she lose the Android *charger* and neglect the tablet entirely.

With her interests in mind, I began the customization process by setting her Pandora stations to her favorite singers: Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, and Michael Buble. Because she is fond of interior design, I installed Pinterest, created her account, and followed Oprah, Martha Stewart, Victorian furniture, and wedding decor on her behalf. Although the official Gmail app was nowhere to be found, the stock email app was operable. Finally, steering this family towards Google Apps for its ease of use and omnipotence, Amazon's omission of Google Plus presented the problem to cement my disdain for this tablet!

After an hour researching solutions to this prominent issue, the XDA forums convinced me that rooting the Kindle was my best option. This excellent guide from Make Use Of illustrated the process in a straightforward manner, and even accounted for the expected hiccups. Although the DOS console, no matter how color coordinated, will disconcert some novice users, patience and discretion guarantee a simple resolution. Remember to finalize the setup with a firewall app to prevent updates from circumventing root access.

My mother was ecstatic to rediscover her tablet, and blushed about photos of her youth I scanned and privately shared on Google Plus. My next tablet purchase will most likely be a Nexus 7; I definitely cannot recommend the Kindle Fire to ANYONE ANYWHERE AT ANYTIME! Happy Holidays!

Dollar-Dollar Bill

Maybe I just want to see how far I can stretch this as an exercise in creative writing; or maybe I'm simply announcing inconsequential circumstances to the world: I carry two halves of a single dollar bill. Like my life long quest to avoid writing in cursive, my mind is simply set to preserve this invaluable possession; and anthropomorphically name it, Bill. My handicapped stowaway has accompanied me for well over a year now; and I sadly can't recall the condition in which I received him, or if his tear was a victim of my handling.

My money is always well folded, with the larger bills preferably spooning their smaller counterparts; this really does wonders for imagery at cash registers. Besides, if you treat your money well, then your money should return the favor, and keep your wallet manageable at the least. Bill has more to look forward to than panhandlers, or desperate situations of merchant pity. Having accepted Bill's full market value, I don't intend on taping him together into an abomination of currency. I do wonder if I can get away with using one half somewhere, and the other half somewhere else, to miraculously turn one dollar into two dollars! I would ultimately like a frugal child to inherit Bill; if I have twins, then each would get a half.

Bike Dick

Please excuse the title; it’s my crude cry for attention in the blogosphere. I have no idea why bicycle seat noses exist. You would think it's a bicycle's “seat belt” of sorts, to prevent you from jutting forward under strenuous pedaling or braking. I ordered a bicycle seat from Amazon to alleviate the effects of what I call Bike Dick. Bike Dick should be defined as an aching dick felt after, and directly attributed to, long rides. A 40 minute ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back is typical for me. Now I don’t know why all bicycles don’t come standard with nose-less bicycle seats.

Bike dick is a real thing, researchers have found that prolonged bicycle seat exposure can have adverse effects on your libido, and I can’t have that! I don't need a nose rubbing against my genitals, unless it's a soft warm female nose.

I attached the seat earlier in the day, then abruptly decided to ride my bicycle at one in the morning. Took this bad boy out, and rode up and down an immaculately desolate Utica Avenue. I enjoyed myself, smiling the whole time thinking, "this is great! I'm not going to have bike dick anymore!" The new seating arrangement does take some getting used to. It does sort of feel like you’re missing a brace, especially when holding a phone with one hand, and desperately trying to brake on a downward slope with the other hand.

I haven't been writing lately, which I attribute to extreme productivity elsewhere; still figuring out how to make up for my absence, whether I will be writing multiple posts, soliciting readers for suggestions, or a combination of the two. If anybody wants to ride in Brooklyn or Manhattan, contact me through any channel on jorenerene.com and I'll try to let you know if I can make it!

Plagiarism

After publishing the Open Times Hack Day post, I received a lot of love, and excitedly opened an email addressed from Marci Windsheimer of the New York Times! Her email started with an exclaimed Hello! And continued to express how much her organization loves external New York Times coverage, then she accused me of plagiarism and avoided threats through suggestive compliance language. The thing is, she was right; by the very definition of the word, I had lifted text and re-appropriated it for event background in my opening paragraph. I learned two important lessons in the hours that followed.

The first lesson was composure, disavowing my first instinct to explain a misguided shortcut, in favor of accepting my error. I quickly responded to request judgmental leniency, and confirmed my immediate resolve to correct the mistake. Edits were quickly made, each blog was updated shortly thereafter, and links were re-issued with explanations to affected outlets.

The second lesson was exposure, specifically to the cold reality of business. Allow me to reference the words of William Butler Yeats: But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. My responses to Marci included my possible desire to work at the New York Times pertaining to Journalism or Technology, that I deeply respected their organization, and felt fortunate to merely receive communication originating from within their walls. After completing a rewrite of the original paragraph and sending it off for her review, all I received was a two worded thank you, consisting of the words, "Thank you." After addressing me like a fifteen year old girl with exclamation points and the word love, releasing dopamine and conveying feelings she quickly shattered, I felt something besides thanked. I felt as if she were a machine that erroneously labeled me something since it happened upon the exception instead of the rule, without getting to know me or any more of my work. In return, as much as I professionally appreciate the corporate policy correspondence, I personally look forward to an opportunity to leave Marci with two words that aren't thank you - save the "you."

First Quarter NBA 2012

Initial thoughts I jotted down during the off-season: Who’s supposed to beat the Lakers, besides the Lakers? My dark horse picks included Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Phoenix; my faith in underdogs has since been destroyed. Going forward, it’s safe to expect season defining injuries to Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving; and Michael Beasley, a former second overall pick in the NBA draft, will never blossom.

I'm technically writing this post because the Knicks beat the Lakers the other night, that game was my call to action. This is another weak year for the Eastern Conference. Dismiss Boston and Chicago miracles now. The East comes down to the Knicks repeatedly trouncing the Heat, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because of the recipe: Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, replace Dirk Nowitzki with Carmelo Anthony, and Jason Terry with Raymond Felton. Amar’e Stoudemire coming off the bench solidifies a Knicks team built to make an NBA Finals appearance.

My Kobe sarcasm is off the meter, I thought he was a lock for a sixth ring; I just wasn't ready for the six ring argument! Had they gelled, it’s not inconceivable to think Mitch Kupchak assembled the greatest five man NBA team EVER: two previous MVPs, two previous defensive MVPs, and a starting rotation of functional All-Stars! Their potential drastically shifted from chasing 72 wins to missing the playoffs; Phil Jackson is beside himself.

Then the Western Conference was gift wrapped to the Thunder right? Wrong. James Harden disappeared in the Finals, against the Heat, not against the Spurs. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook neutralize one another, the Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson tandem caps Kevin Durant outbursts, and expecting the unproven Kevin Martin to out duel Manu Ginobilli is akin to high hopes for Beasley. The Spurs couldn't be in a better position to come out of the West, thank you Sam Presti. Houston is now a playoff team, and Harden should win Most Improved Player. Memphis is the wild card here; still, give me the Spurs representing the West in the NBA Finals.

As of now my NBA Finals picture reads Gregg Popovich over Mike Woodson, Spurs over Knicks.

Custom Bloatware

Recently formatted a hard drive and performed a clean install of Windows 7, then pondered over what additional applications to include. Below is a basic list of software that should allow the casual PC user to immediately enjoy their new computer:

  • Google Chrome is my personal browser of choice, Firefox is a worthy alternative. No matter how much Internet Explorer cosmetically improves, it still lags in terms of web technology integration, and remains the targeted browser of choice for malicious hackers.
  • WinRAR for your run of the mill ZIPs, rare RARs, Java JARs, or 7zs you probably shouldn't have downloaded. Although it is free, you will be nagged by the option to buy with afterlife consequences.
  • VLC gracefully handles every multimedia file format I have ever thrown at it, including the mysterious MKVs; well, everything except Apple's proprietary bastard child. While you will need Quicktime sooner or later, beware of the bundled iTunes installer.
  • Adobe Reader supports the PDFs we're inevitably forced to read, and the bundled PDF Printer will be there when you unexpectedly need it.
  • Skype is Windows' Facetime, Apple has completely fooled lay people into believing their bundled features are unique to OSX - long live anyone with common sense!
  • CCleaner clears caches and histories, uninstalls application ghosts, tunes registries, and so much more; really for further down the line to keep things in order, and provide one-click clean-up automation for novices.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials proves I may not be a PC whisperer, but I have forsaken AVG, McAfee, Kaspersky, and their antivirus brethren in favor of intuition, hometown protection, and responsible internet use.
  • The home stretch: Photos? Picasa. Online storage? Dropbox, enjoy the extra 500 MBs of space. Microsoft Office? If Google Docs isn't enough, then I still can't vouch for an alternative to Microsoft Office. Music? Although the cool kids are using Spotify, there are so many options that the only wrong one left is paying for a CD.

Happy computing! Let me know if I missed anything through any jorenerene.com channel.

Secret Deodorant

Something close to my heart is Secret deodorant, it's applied directly to my armpits, less than a foot away from each ventricle. Being raised by three women, my choices as an active boy were limited - and we searched.

We tried deodorants packaged with colognes - throw those Brute bars directly in the trash bin. Davidoff? No! I've found Right Guard spray cans make better flame thrower components than odor eliminators, and that original smell is toxic. Tried to go natural twice, applied a Toms brand, and Arm and Hammer variants on different days - regret both days. The recent headlining contenders for rectifying male perspiration have been Old Spice and Axe Body Spray, both of which I have commended for comedic value, and avoided for their gimmicky nature; thanks guys, I have what works and don't need your product to attract women.

My secret is out, consider this humility, that "made for a woman" quip is daunting; at least I'll be able to raid my wife's deodorant supply. Rounding Prospect Park, or after hours of sun beaten basketball, like a commercial, Secret keeps me feeling comfortably refreshed. Let's not get into soap, those Dove bars are amazing. Women know what they're doing, while Irish Spring has left me feeling like a mopped floor.

Zaha Hadid

Lines are my personal hell, just give me a number and contact me when you're ready. In lieu of standing in line at BJs, I found a magazine and sat to the side until a new register opened; there, Zaha Hadid came to my attention through a Time Magazine article.

Photos of a breathtaking building caught my eye first, then the unique Zaha Hadid attribution piqued my curiosity, and sent my fingers combing through pages. Zaha Hadid is a regal, 62 year old woman of Iraqi-British descent, who adorns extravagant gowns to better reflect the masterpieces she is responsible for around the world. She has also taught at Harvard, Ohio State, Columbia, Yale, and other prominent international Universities. Her list of accomplishments fill trophy rooms that rival pioneers on historical levels. She is the first woman to win Architecture's highest distinction, the Pritzker, and remains favorably ranked on worldwide lists of influential figures.

Zaha Hadid nourished my healthy respect for professional women in the sciences, fittingly in a super market, symbollically away from the frustration of checking out. While I have not seen these "Real Housewives of Any Metropolitan City," or "Any Kardashian" that continues to enthrall our young ladies, I'll be glad to keep you abreast of the positively impressionable marvels of the world once the laughter ends.

Times Open Hack Day

On December 8, 2012, the Times Open Hack Day was held at the prestigious New York Times Building, where a collection of talented designers and developers gathered to exploit their brilliance over the course of a full day. Besides the invaluable space, time, and exceptional catering, the venue offered optional API side sessions from Spotify, Echo Nest, Tumblr, Google, and The New York Times to best present their technological capabilities. Produced with minimal restraints and free of firm guidelines, below are the winners and my shortlist of favorite hacks presented at the close of the Times Open Hack Day:

  • Andrew Pinzler's NYC Here, for those New York nights with out-of-towners who expect you to know where you are, we’re natives – not historians! Lower East Side? Meat Packing District? Now you can check into any venue on Foursquare and instantly reveal what neighborhood you're in. Because none of us knew where midtown ended, this hack was instantly worthy of its first place finish.
  • Tobias Wright's Ted Talks provides New York Times quips to better inject conversations with snooty comments. There’s a backstory to this hack involving a belligerent colleague named Ted, the resulting tour de force of creativity and smugness earned Ted’s flamboyance a third place finish.
  • Sam Frons' Tumblr Times topically connects images from Pinterest, articles from The New York Times, and general multimedia from Tumblr to compile a “"best of”" newsfeed. Per Sam Frons' demonstration, if a user's topic were cats, then imagine cats as far as the eye can scan a screen, pushed to you in an aesthetic layout.
  • While the New York Times employees were mainly in attendance for guidance and support, their automatic disqualification from prize contention didn't prevent them from presenting unique concepts. Although we've heard of the health effects of standing desks, the logistical setup wasn't appealing until Albert Sun's Dancing Desk mapped dance steps to desktop tasks using his Dance Dance Revolution mat! JSSML also stood out, because LinkedIn needs a buzzword to better represent the combination of the internet's building blocks, namely Javascript, CSS, and HTML.

The event was a rousing success from every angle; we were even treated to live iPad portraitures by the renown New Media Artist David Newman.

Make Rights

While we're all consumers, it's my pleasure to work and network with the rarer sort of individual, namely producers. In light of legislative measures threatening an entrepreneur’'s barriers of entry, namely the “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “Protect Intellectual Privacy Act”, questions arise over the long-term viability of our independent workflow. While social commentary proves my political flavor turns off a significant audience, this highlights the plight of the have-nots: what do we have to protect?

As Facebook and Timeline tussle over trademarks, Yahoo charges Facebook with multiple patent infringement lawsuits; as it becomes easier to copy and paste success on micro- and macro-levels, then where do we draw the lines of economical self preservation? You've undeniably pirated some sort of media in some way, you vehemently opposed the SOPA and PIPA legislation, and you proposed or clung to flaws in each proposed Act with nary a suggestion in favor of their premise. What then when a local artist's imitable designs are found in Urban Outfitters' catalogs? Is that when the have-nots look for protection, when they have?

Little Prejudice

I recently read Little Women immediately followed by Pride & Prejudice, each chronicles the lives of growing young women in a bygone era, so I thought I would review them in tandem for my first daily post. I will try to express my opinion of each book without spoiling the story for the uninitiated. Each review will receive one of these final ratings: No Bueno, Bueno, or Muy Bueno – because I’m random like that.

Little Women reads like a long winded fairy tale where you form a bond with the narrator who occasionally breaks the fourth wall, and the March family who we follow through adolescence and young adulthood. The main characters are the four young Marches, each seemingly embodying a distinct personality: Josephine the tough, Amy the lady, Beth the kind-hearted, and Meg the mature; their household is completed by their mother, affectionately called Marmee throughout, and a belligerent servant who speaks like a rapper writes. This book was meant for mothers to read to their daughters for lessons in patience, self-respect, self-esteem, and all the positive traits we wish upon them. Two problems, first, if we’re preaching life lessons including acceptance, then Josephine is clearly a lesbian, which shouldn’t bother anyone, and that opens the possibility that Beth is a special needs child. Second, the religious undertones and re-enforced gender roles: Josephine the lesbian is the only little woman interested in working, and none of these girls appear to be educated in any of the sciences, preferring inaudibly rousing speeches instead of intellectual debates. Alas, I am clearly not the target audience; and yet, I found the story endearing and the family likeable overall. Bueno.

Pride and Prejudice is a bit more grown up. My favorite quote opens the book:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

The scene continues with Mrs. Bennet begging her husband to marry her daughter off to the neighborhood’s newest rich young bachelor. Quick tangent, when did parents stop arranging their children’s future? The Bennets have four daughters, the son-less theme continues; we’re primarily concerned with the two eldest Bennet daughters: Elizabeth the protagonist and Jane the beautiful. Their hearts-for-swords fencing partners are Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, each of whom are wildly rich and terribly sought after. I took a particular liking to Mr. Darcy, because much like myself, we have a prideful air about us that regularly leaves people with snobbish impressions despite our disassociation. The Prejudice arises due to the Pride, we’re treated to plot twists and loads of pensive thoughts; quite frankly, too much pensive thought, and for adult affairs, this drawn out mystery thriller is lacking sexual tension. If lust isn't required with your love, then this is the book for you: adult problems and mea culpa solutions without any passion. At least Jane Austen painted better villainy and deception in the world than the terror of science, and a little woman’'s malaise. Bueno.

Write Everyday

The journal I regularly carry solicits questions regarding its benefits, to which I usually reply, "There are some, fewer than I anticipated." It dawned on me recently that I don't write as often as I'd like to - and this will sound crazy - because I think I'll run out of words; where my writing personally begins to feel repetitive, even as the content wildly varies. Reading and writing is something I've always been good at, along with math and computers, and sports and ... if you don't get the drift, my attention wanders even as my commitment ensures an above competent ability. In response, I have decided to write every day, to grow as a communicator and reap the unforeseen benefits of better recording my observations. Be a pal, read me, comment and leave suggestions, and I'll be sure to reply; thank you and best wishes!

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