Freaks and Geeks on DVD

Remember the TV show Freeks and Geeks? It was one of the best comedy-dramas I’ve ever seen. My friends and I would actually plan our Saturday nights around it, and I’m not sure if that’s a measure of how cool the show was or how dorky we were (and being in college, we didn’t have consistent access to a VCR to simply tape it). The show lasted less than a season on NBC in 1999-2000, and then had a short syndicated life on the Fox Family channel or some such cable channel.

Now there’s a campaign to release Freaks and Geeks on DVD. Join 34,000 other people and ask that this great show be released on DVD. I did.

The DVD revolution is amazing. I guess VHS did it for movies back in the 1980s, but I was too young to witness that home entertainment revolution. Now DVDs are doing the same thing for TV shows and other non-movie formats that didn’t stand a chance on VHS. I think the two strongest formats for DVD are TV shows and music/concerts. DVDs work extremely well with non-linnear programming, making them ideal for TV shows or collections of videos. The sound quality and space for extras make them ideal for media-saavy bands.

Even cancelled show The Family Guy may return to network TV, thanks to strong DVD sales. The people have spoken. How cool is that.

What’s especially interesting in all of this is the move towards on-demand, digital home entertainment. DVD collections of TV shows come close to that, allowing you to watch whatever episode you want, whenever you want. Tivo and other digital TV recorders let you ignore the TV guide and watch TV on your schedule.

It’s cool and scary to see an industry change before you eyes. Cool because I don’t have to be trained like a Pavlov dog to sit down and watch the Simpsons at 5:00 and 6:00, but scary because skipping commercials means we have to find another revenue stream (or get more creative, like the not-so-subtle product placements in TV shows).

I know it’s just TV, but I still think it’s cool to see where things go from here.

(Feb. 3, 2004 Update: Freeks and Geeks is now available on DVD, surprisingly cheaper than originally advertised)

Shootin’ Stuff with Shotguns

So it’s the middle of the afternoon and my lunch break is becoming longer and longer. Today’s freelance work is rather tedious, and I just don’t want to go back. So I’ve been surfing the web. Feels just like the end days at BG.

This morning I read Jordon Cooper’s thoughts on hunting, and it got me thinking. Reflecting and being sentimental, I guess, but that’s just too bad.

My only experience hunting is through a good friend of mine (who happened to write a column in our youth group newsletter titled “Shootin’ Stuff with Shotguns”). He’s the outdoorsy type, loves hunting and camping. Gander Mountain is his favorite store. He actually got me interested in camping, and I’m eternally grateful.

He took me hunting once. It was grouse season, which shows you just what kind of a hunter he was. I didn’t even know what a grouse was. Apparently it’s a small, chicken-like bird. But we could hunt them within ten minutes of his house in the suburbs, so it worked out well.

Our hunting expedition involved trapsing through the woods after school, carting my friend’s shotgun and looking for stuff to shoot. He actually knew things about hunting, like how to flush out birds, where they would be, and how to spot evidence that they were around.

Most of the afternoon we didn’t see much. We took potshots at a squirrel and leveled a tree for lack of anything better to shoot at.

But as we returned to the car a group (gaggle? flock? family? mob? crowd?) of grouse crossed the path in front of us. In a smooth and fluid motion my friend leveled the shotgun and fired, taking down a grouse. Sudden and unexpected success.

We took the dead bird home and I watched as my friend cleaned it and tossed it in the freezer to cook later. A couple nights later he brought me some cooked grouse. It tasted like chicken.

I think hunting gets a bad rap. The above experience is my only hunting encounter, and it’s probably overly ideal. There’s a lot of bad hunters who really just want an excuse to drink alcohol and shoot stuff.

But proper hunting involves a lot of skill that at one time was essential for survival. While watching my friend clean what could easily be dinner, I realized that if it were not for the modern convenience of prepared food, I’d be screwed. I’m not so helpless that I don’t know how to cook, but if I had to figure out what part of the animal was edible meat, well forget it.

Sometimes I think a lack of these survival skills is a big loss. It’s not like I want to run around shooting stuff, skinning, and cooking it, but if something traumatic happened it’d be nice to be able to eat.

Working the System

While trying to buy a Christmas present on today, I slipped into their little marketing scheme. If you spend $25 or more on qualifying products (i.e. books, music, movies — most Amazon partner products like cooking utensils don’t count) they give you free “super saver shipping” (which means you get the slowest, cheapest shipping for free).

I was planning to spend less than $25, but it was close enough to consider buying something cheap rather than pay shipping. Why not get a book, CD, or DVD for maybe $1 or so more than the shipping?

So I set about bargain hunting. While I found a few gems, I never found that jackpot item that made it so worthwhile. Sadly, a quick Google search didn’t help me either. Somebody out there must have a list of cheap items on that you can use to qualify for free shipping. If there is, I didn’t find it.

But to offer a wonderful service to my readers, I’ll let you know some of the cheap gems I did find. Maybe this will come in handy if you’re in need of that low-cost item to qualify for free shipping.

  • Laughing City EP by Eisley (they opened for Coldplay) – $5.98
  • The Christmas Spirit by Johnny Cash – $5.98
  • Country Christmas by Johnny Cash – $5.98
  • Orthadoxy by G.K. Chesterton – $9.56
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton – $8.95
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – $6.99
  • Songbook by Nick Hornby – $7.80
  • 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know by Russ Kick – $5.97
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien – $7.99
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – $6.57
  • Self-Consciousness: Memoirs by John Updike – $6.99
  • Holes by Louis Sachar – $6.50
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss – $5.39
  • Jimmy Eat World DVD – $7.98

Well, there you go.

Spanking Franklin

Interesting article from The Guardian about Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child: The evangelicals who like to giftwrap Islamophobia (link via jordoncooper)

Having been laid-off by Franklin’s plans to relocate the BGEA, I am a bit biased, but this story is a bit over the top. Franklin certainly deserves a verbal spanking for his insensitivity to Islam given the current political climate (heck, Franklin deserves a verbal spanking for a lot of things), but I think it’s overstating the case to say that you can’t give humanitarian and spiritual
relief at the same time. One shouldn’t be a prerequisite for the other, but at the same time when someone asks why, you have little recourse but to tell them.

Though I did find myself agreeing with this comment: “US evangelicals employ a selective biblical literalism to support a theology that systematically confuses the kingdom of God with the US’s burgeoning empire.”

I certainly wouldn’t say evangelicals in general do that, but some Christians do equate U.S. power with the kingdom of God. We are a growing empire/superpower, but like every nation we will come to an end.


The end of an era came today. There is no longer a NASCAR Winston Cup Series. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco company pulled out as the series sponsor earlier this year, to be replaced by Nextel. Today was the final race of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, a sponsorship that has lasted since 1971. Starting with the 2004 season, it’ll be called the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

All I can say is, it’s about time. This is a giant step forward for NASCAR, shedding one of the last remaining major TV advertising opportunities for tobacco companies. This can only add respectability to an already growing sport that is quickly losing its backwater stereotype.

Old vs New

I sat down to watch the Red Wings last night, which is something I don’t usually have the luxury of doing. They were playing the Wild, so it was a battle of my favorite team versus my new home team. The game ended 1-1 after a scoreless overtime, thanks to a late third period goal by Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman. A tie seems appropriate considering my divided loyalties.

As a bonus, my boy, Pavel Datsyuk, had a sweet breakaway scoring opportunity. He was taken down from behind, resulting in a penalty shot, but was still able to get a respectable shot off while sliding on his butt. Unfortunately his penalty shot was denied. Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson had seen footage of Datsyuk’s fancy moves and was ready for him. Better swap it up next time, Pavel.

Proof That the Youth Are Revolting

As I mentioned the other day, I went to my last Five Iron Frenzy concert ever. What a show.

I interviewed Keith and Micah before the show, which was fitting because I’ve interviewed both those guys several times before. The interview went OK and I think I got some good stuff. The opening bands were acoustic guy James Cameron, and rockers Holland and Bleach. I actually wore ear plugs for those three acts (I guess I’m like all those other old guys now). They were OK, but I wasn’t too impressed.

Five Iron rocked. Lots of between-song banter, lots of hilarity, lots of fun. They had a video screen behind the stage that played old school video clips during some songs, like shots of Canadian celebrities during “Oh, Canada.”

It was fun to sing a long one more time. I wish I could have been on the floor in the midst of the crowd, jumping around with some friends. Or maybe yo-yoing off in a corner. Instead I had to go by myself and found a seat in the front row of the balcony, which gave me an easy seat to save and a good place to take pictures.

As part of the interview, I did ask the guys what songs they would put on a Five Iron Frenzy hits collection (which they did say would be an inevitability). They basically answered by saying the songs they like to play live. They did say there would need to be a b-side with stupid songs (i.e. “Kitty-Doggy”), and they would probably need to balance out goofy songs with serious songs (i.e. “Oh, Canada” vs. “Every New Day”).

Of course only later did I discover they cheated. Their live set included an 11-song medley. Here’s the complete live set:

1) “The Old West” (Upbeats and Beatdowns)
2) “Handbook For the Sellout” (Our Newest Album Ever!)
3) “Where Zero Meets Fifteen” (Upbeats and Beatdowns)
4) “Cannonball” (The End is Near)
5) “Blue Comb ’78” (Our Newest Album Ever!)
6) “At Least I’m Not Like All Those Other Old Guys” (The End is Near)
7) “You Probably Shouldn’t Move Here” (All the Hype That Money Can Buy)
8) “Oh, Canada” (Our Newest Album Ever!)
9) “See the Flames Begin to Crawl” (The End is Near)
10) “Vultures” (Electric Boogaloo)
11) “You Can’t Handle This” (Electric Boogaloo)
12) “When I Go Out” (Quantity is Job 1)
13) “American Kryptonite” (The End is Near)
14) “Phantom Mullet” (All the Hype That Money Can Buy)
15) “Mayonnaise Taco Monday” (Cheeses of Nazareth)
16) “Pootermobile” (prefaced as being the best song they’d play: “You can go home now.”) (Cheeses of Nazareth)
17) Medley (including “A Flowery Song,” (Upbeats and Beatdowns) “Suckerpunch,” (Our Newest Album Ever!) “One Girl Army,” (Quantity is Job 1) “My Evil Plan to Save the World,” (Quantity is Job 1) “Pre-Ex-Girlfriend,” (Electric Boogaloo) “Combat Chuck,” (Upbeats and Beatdowns) “Dandelion,” (Quantity is Job 1) “Superpowers,” (Our Newest Album Ever!) “Cool Enough For You.” (Upbeats and Beatdowns) There were also two other songs in there I didn’t recognize. The first had lyrics along the lines of “We both break down and cry,” and the second sounded like “Goodbye you, you, you,” almost like a take on “We need you, you, you,” at the end of the Blues Brothers.)
18) “A New Hope” (All the Hype That Money Can Buy, originally appeared on Proof That the Youth Are Revolting)
19) “World Without End” (All the Hype That Money Can Buy)
20) “Every New Day” (Our Newest Album Ever!)
21) (accapella praise song ending)

Quite a show. I’ll have to post my pictures once they’re developed (yeah, I went old skool). I’ll also have to work on my choices for Best FIF Ever.

The Right to Go to Hell

The Rev. Al Sharpton makes some interesting comments in a recent RollingStone interview. For those who don’t know, Sharpton is one of the Democratic Presidential candidates.

When asked about gay marriages, Sharpton had this to say:

“Asking about gay marriages is like asking about black marriages. It’s a human-rights issue. Gays and lesbians are human beings. You can’t support civil unions but not marriages — that’s like saying you can shack up but not get married. Either you’re for human rights or you’re not. You can’t say, ‘You have human rights up to here, but this part is not for you.’ [Former New York archbishop] Cardinal O’Connor once asked me how I could support a woman’s right to choose abortion. I told him, ‘God didn’t say you have to go to heaven — he gave you the option of hell. I think you may go to hell, and I defend your right to get there.'”

What an interesting take on politics and society. The typical Christian approach is to legislate morality. We tell you can’t do this or that based on the moral foundation of our religion. Of course if you’re not bound by the morals of a particular religion, things get kind of fuzzy. Sharpton seems to favor the approach of giving people the freedom to screw themselves. If you want to go to hell, that’s your choice. I think it’s a dumb choice, but it’s a choice you have to make, and I won’t make it for you.

Something about that approach really resonates with me, especially when dealing with homosexuality. I feel like it is a civil rights issue. While I don’t agree with homosexuality, that doesn’t mean I can impose my views on homosexuals. If they want to live in sin, that’s their choice. But that doesn’t mean I can deny them basic rights. I think some of the benefits that come with marriage would be basic rights, things like health care for your family and survivor benefits. While it certainly funks up the traditional model of marriage, I think it’s a slam to a homosexual’s face to tell them they don’t get health care for their partner.

Whether we want to admit it or not, homosexuality is something we need to deal with as a society. We can’t just thumb our nose at their lifestyle and hope they go away. They’re not going away. And if that’s how they choose to live, I think it’s better to accept their choice and move on. We can certainly disagree with their choice and love them and hope they change. But disagreeing with their choice and then moving to block everything they try and do in life is just wrong.

We don’t discriminate against other personal sins (by “personal sin” I mean a sin that primarily affects yourself). We don’t tell the greedy they can’t have survivor benefits. We don’t tell liars they can’t adopt children. We don’t tell hypocrites they can’t get married.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure about applying this perspective to abortion like Sharpton does. Being gay is a personal choice (on some level) that has little impact on the others in your life. It may make life harder on your children, but I think all our sins and faults would make life hard on our kids. In my view abortion ends the life of a child, not giving that child even the chance for a hard life. I don’t know if that road to hell is worth defending. I doubt Sharpton would defend a man’s right to kill, which is where this debate gets sticky.

Sorry to whoop some heavy politics on you on a Saturday morning, but there it is.

I also liked this comment from Sharpton: “Part of what bothers me about leadership today is we’re more poll-driven than we are moral-driven. And that we don’t want to be right — we want to be popular.” Oddly, I think George W. Bush and Sharpton would agree on this.