odds and ends

I made a weird mistake in my reading last week when, in short order, my public library delivered two memoirs I had on reserve: Life Itself by Roger Ebert

and Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life by Michael Moore

I enjoy both men’s work outside of their memoirs. I’ve been reading Ebert for years and own a dozen of his collected reviews. I’ve liked a lot of Moore’s film work- he mines a vein of liberal rage most liberals are too chicken-hearted to express.

Having said that, getting both of these books at the same time has been a wash for me. Both are the memoirs of white men born in the American Midwest during or close to the Baby Boom. Both memoirs detail a sharp interest in film. Both memoirs have extensive chapters detailing the loss of parents. Although I wonder if it was intentional on either writer’s part, both books are keenly nostalgic for the perceived simplicity of the 1950’s in America, although Moore’s work does a better job of showing the U.S. wasn’t as rosy as all that.

I could go on. The similarities between the two works have tempered my enjoyment  Of the two, I prefer Ebert’s memoir. He has a tighter, more streamlined way of telling his stories, honed by years of working as a journalist, that appeals to me. Moore’s stories are more shaggy and rambling, but are occasionally more emotionally effective than Ebert’s.


Ellen and I have watched every episode of 2 Broke Girls aired so far this season.

I suppose I would say it’s my favorite new television show of the 2011-2012 season but that’s probably damning it with faint praise. The quality of new television programs this year has been pretty thin.

In fact, I wouldn’t say 2 Broke Girls is a very good sitcom… at least, it’s not very good YET. I thought this article by Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress.org about the show’s shortcomings and potential was quite well said. It nicely summed up some of my great problems with the show (borderline racist attitude, supporting characters who add nothing besides lame stereotypes) and the things I enjoy about it greatly (the genuine chemistry of the two lead actresses, the nice character moments the show allows). Rosenberg also goes on to point out the politics at play in 2 Broke Girls’ premise and how that could be an interesting angle… if the show allows that to become a part of things.

My biggest problem with 2 Broke Girls so far has little to do with it’s political potential and more to do with how boringly predictable the show is.  I believe six episodes have aired as of this week, and every one has exactly the same trajectory. The first two thirds are awash in awkward and unfunny sex jokes, to the point where I’m ready to change the channel… and then, in the last third of the episode, something genuine happens between Max and Caroline. Usually it’s simply a character moment or a nice line read… but it’s enough to get me back for the next episode.

I’d love to see 2 Broke Girls grow into a great situation comedy; there’s definitely a wonderful show buried underneath the lameness. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that the show is already a hit for CBS. The only “growth” we’re likely to see is in the number of awkward boobie and penis jokes.

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