Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm back! (Did you even know I was gone?)

You may have been wondering "Where has the Daily Shill been? I thought we got an update a week!" (Okay, so I know that probably no one's been wondering that, but I'm going to answer anyways). I went on a Spring Break trip, and I did not have the wonders of the internet at my disposal, so I had to skip a week.

BUT, I now have The Checklist Manifesto in my possession, and I hope to have a review by Friday! I've only read 15 pages, but so far, so good!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Marriage Ref

I'm ashamed to admit this: I actually enjoyed parts of the Marriage Ref. (I watched the episode with Ricky Gervais, Larry David, and Madonna.)

So the show has this really stupid idea: let's get married couples to send us videos showing their biggest gripe with other, and then we'll decide who wins. (The real answer is neither person wins because America now knows their problems. I guess you could say America wins, but I wouldn't go that far. I think we may lose, too). Anyway, there's this guy, Tom Papa, who isn't funny (but he's supposed to be) who is there every week as "the Ref." His job consists of introducing the couples' videos to the panel and making "the call" (of who wins) in the end. And let me tell you, he gets annoying quickly.

But then, in each episode, there is a different celebrity panel who is there to "advise" (read "make fun of the couple"). To tell the truth, I know this panel is the only reason I liked the show. Larry David and Ricky Gervais are just funny guys (and Madonna, though she wasn't intending to, was a decent straight-man).

Really, the show seems to be a facade to get more than one comedian in the room. They should just ditch the feuding couples and, instead, feature a couple of comedians an episode to riff on anything. Or, to go a different route, ditch everything and start with a brand new show. At one point in the episode I saw, David and Gervais joked about having a reality show where they were roommates. That's actually the show I'd want to see. Jerry Seinfeld, spend your money on that instead.

Despite enjoying parts of the show, I'm only giving it a 2/5. I found all of the regular portions stupid and liked it only because of David and Gervais. Plus, deserves a low score just for interrupting the Closing Ceremony of the 2010 Olympics. Not cool, Marriage Ref. Not cool.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aw shucks!

I hate to disappoint you folks, but I won't be able to review filling out the census form, since my dad already completed ours. I know, I know, you were waiting to see how I was going to rate it so you could decide whether to fill yours out or not. Sorry.

Ironically, I'm probably not counted; you are supposed to leave out college students living away from home, and my dad forgot that I just graduated (in his defense, I don't walk until June). Guess it means I'm not a person for the next 10 years.

To Try Men's Souls

I just finished reading Newt Gingrich's novel (yes, novel) To Try Men's Souls, and it was much better than I thought it would be. Maybe it exceeded expectations because I thought I was going to have to read a political book by Gingrich, maybe it did because he wrote it with another guy (William R. Forstchen), or maybe it was better because I read most of it sitting outside in the sunshine. But whatever the reason, I'm grateful.

The book takes place on December 25, 1776, the day when George Washington led the American Army across the Delaware, and it centers on three characters: George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Jonathan Van Dorn (a person I'm pretty sure they just made up). Though I did find myself bored, particularly in Washington's segments, I found myself actually caring what became of Paine and Jonathan. The writing didn't strike me one way or the other. It wasn't bad, but I never found myself thinking "wow, that is a great sentence." (Which is, actually, something I think when I'm reading a good book.)

One thing I appreciated is that Gingrich and Forstchen did not get political in the novel, which made it much easier to read. The introduction made some political statements I didn't agree with (like saying "The modern education establishment has deliberately ignored American-history and minimized the importance of learning about America" p. xv.) but they did not carry into the novel.

I've waffled a lot with my rating for this novel. In the end, I'm giving it a 2/5, but it nearly got a 3. Reading it was not terrible, and, maybe if I liked historical fiction, it would've gotten the higher score. Either way, it definitely seemed like a book my Grandpa would like, and if you're into wartime historical fiction, I might recommend it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ricky Gervais Show: not funny

I find Ricky Gervais hilarious. That being said, I didn't once laugh while watching The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO.

For those unaware of the concept, let me catch you up. Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington sit around and talk. Or, rather, Pilkington says something odd, and Gervais and Merchant make fun of him for what he says (and for how round his head is). This whole thing began as a podcast (with the same title), though it has recently expanded into an animated show on HBO.

The medium of the show puzzles me; why animate three guys sitting around talking? Sure, you're able to also animate whatever it is they're talking about, but there's also a lot of time spent showing three men sitting at a table. Also (and I'm not sure here), I think the show might've been funnier if I could see the men's facial expressions. But, even casting humor aside, the Ricky Gervais Show was not that interesting. As a whole, the show worked better as a podcast (though I wasn't a huge fan of that either) because people often are occupied while listening to podcasts and split their attention. Sitting down and entirely focusing on the conversation these men were having caused me to quickly lose interest.

There's not much more to say about the Ricky Gervais Show. It wasn't funny or good, it wasn't terrible. I won't watch the show again, but I'm not cursing the 22 minutes of my life that this episode took up. I give it a 2/5.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Pluto Files is a Delight!

I've always enjoyed when Neil deGrasse Tyson makes an appearance on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report. He is funny, personable, and wears ties with planets on them: what could be better? An episode of Nova starring Tyson and dealing with the controversial classification Pluto, of course!

Throughout this episode, Tyson travels across the country on a Pluto-related mission, focusing on the question of whether Pluto is a planet. He talks with scientists who support Pluto's planethood and those who do not; he visits the hometown of the scientist who discovered Pluto and the town where the scientist's family now lives; he even visits Disney World to play with Pluto the dog.

Though the majority of the program is about science, it doesn't deal with it in a dry way. Tyson is hilarious! But the jokes didn't stop me from learning things (like, did you know that before the planet was named, Americans associated the name Pluto with a laxative? Or, that if the sun was represented by a balloon with an 8-foot diameter, the relative-size of Pluto could be represented by a ball bearing from a roller skate?) Plus, The Pluto Files shows multiple clips from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. How could I not like it?

I give it a 4/5. Definitely worth watching, and it's only 50 minutes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just in case you were wondering

I would choose Jon Stewart over Robert Pattinson any day.

Drat. Now I have to watch Remember Me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

No one likes Crisis and Command (or at least I don't)

I admit defeat. I'm not giving up on my mission, but Crisis and Command by John Yoo has beaten me. I had to return it to the library today, and I only made it through 250 pages. And let me tell you, those 250 were rough.

My main complaint with Crisis and Command isn't the way it's written, it isn't its political message, it's that it is BORING! Granted, a book mostly about constitutional law doesn't sound like a thriller, but since it focused on particular presidents, I thought the history would be interesting. And the first few pages of each chapter was...but that was it. Who knows, maybe the chapters on FDR, the Cold War Presidents, and the Once and Future Presidency were different. But I didn't make it that far. Since it was unfinishable, I give it 1/5.

If you're looking for a book to help you fall asleep at night, this is the one. But if you're looking for some entertainment, turn elsewhere. Might I recommend the book that started me on this mission: The Know It All by AJ Jacobs.

I could talk more about Crisis and Command if you wanted, but I think it would make for a boring review. Ask me, though, if you have any questions (about the first 250 pages).