Pumpkin Seeds: 1/29/04

1. For those influenced by endorsements, especially those from political types, what does it say about the endorsee when they were the endorser’s second choice? ie: these guys tripping over themselves to get on the Kerry bandwagon after their man Gephardt stumbled out of the gate and took himself out of the race. I mean, everyone’s entitled to change their minds but it certainly doesn’t reflect well on either party. Interestingly, Gephardt himself is saying he’ll wait until after the Missouri primary before endorsing someone, letting the people of his state tell him who to support instead of the other way around. Imagine that?

2. Having a few sessions of D&D under my belt now – not to mention the obscene amount of related-reading I’ve done in the past two months – I have to say that I like most of the changes they’ve made since I last played in the 80s. To be honest, though, most of the differences people have pointed out don’t even ring a bell for me; they just feel right, suggesting a natural evolution of the game. Despite what some people think, I’ve never been a very good detail person. I’m much more of a big picture impressionist. (And a pretty good BSer, too.) I mainly remember a relatively simple game where you created a character, equipped him with all the cool stuff and went off a’slashing. It’s a much more complex game now, with an intense attention to detail that can be intimidating. But it’s still fun to play – even if I’m actually paying for the stuff this time! – and that’s what’s most important. Ed put it best: “We seem much more occupied with creating an accurate and cohesive world where we can immerse ourselves with out inconsistencies to remind us it is only a game.”

3. Not counting the news and general political coverage, I probably watch the least amount of TV these days than at any other time in my life, except for the year I lived in South Beach and didn’t have one. I rarely find the time to catch my favorite shows – Smallville, Scrubs, Everybody Loves Raymond and Survivor, in particular – as there’s always something else to do. American Idol remains a must-see, though even that gets bumped on occasion as the season wears on. (Billy Hung – “She bangs, she bangs!” – is my American Idol!) In general, TV’s just not that good these days, though unlike many, I don’t believe it’s reality TV’s fault. Like any other genre, there’s good reality (Survivor, AI) and bad reality (the various Bachelor clones, Big Brother). Personally, I loved the Real World from day one. Still watch the Real World/Road Rules Challenges whenever I stumble across it. They’re all fun in the same way the old Battle of the Network Stars was, but with more drama. Really good scripted TV shows, though, have always been the rare jewel in a pile of crap. Especially sitcoms. How many variations on a group of single white people or surburban white families do we need? And UPN’s strategy of sticking black actors in cookie cutter sitcoms doesn’t work for me, either. Honestly, I think the real problem is sprawl. Too many networks diluting the pot, looking to copy the last big thing instead of innovating the next. Surprisingly, the WB has probably had the best strategy of any of the networks over the past 10 years, narrowly targeting their desired demographic and delivering some pretty good shows. CBS used to do the same thing, successfully targetting an older market with shows like Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder until, Survivor and CSI took off and they got greedy, abandoning them for the more fickle 18-34 year old demographic.

4. Speaking of TV, Mad TV has some of the most off-the-wall, “oh no they didn’t!” skits on regular TV. Ruthless, and often tasteless, they have the edge SNL seems to have lost sometime ago. And The Daily Show is quite possibly the best and smartest show on TV.

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