For the record, he was the best that ever came through this dump.

Several years ago, I lent out my DVD seasons of Scrubs: these were seasons 1 – 4, so this would’ve been around the fall of 2006. Four years later, they came back to me in a box (arriving, incidentally, the night my jury duty ended). As I’d just finished re-watching the first four seasons of How I Met You Mother, I decided to do the same thing to Scrubs, and from September 11th until October 16th I watched every episode, of every season, of what was at one point the best sitcom on television. Yes: you are reading this correct, I also watched the 9th season.

Scrubs focuses on John (“J.D.”) Dorian, a doctor who has just finished medical school and is beginning his internship at Sacred Heart Hospital under the tutelage of Dr. Perry Cox, Nurse Carla Espinosa, and Chief of Medicine Bob Kelso (and the terrorizing of the nameless The Janitor). Rounding out the cast is J.D.’s best buddy since college, Chris Turk, and their fellow intern (and J.D.’s ongoing love interest) Elliot Reid – it is explained that her father really wanted a boy, and went ahead and named her Elliot despite the fact that, yanno, she’s a girl.

Each episode of the show is structured very similarly, with a first-person narration from J.D. illustrating a theme common to the show’s characters over the course of the episode. Generally, Dr. Cox calls J.D. a girl’s name, Dr. Kelso kicks someone out of the hospital for their insurance lapsing, the Janitor plots some intricate revenge plot against J.D. and is surprised people expect him to clean things up, Turk does something stupid, Carla yells at Turk for doing something stupid, and Elliot has problems being emotionally stable.

Rounding out the cast with a beloved bevy of wacky characters: Ted, the bald incompotent (and impotent, I think) lawyer whose wife ran away with his brother (I think), and who lives with his mother (and sleeps in her bed, ew.) There’s Todd, a surgeon who makes inappropriate sexual comments about everything and is constantly asking for high-fives named for whatever the current situation is (i.e, “Stuck in traffic high five!”), which sort of makes him an early version of HIMYM’s Barney. Jordan is Dr. Cox’s ex-wife, and long after they divorced, they find true love and happiness together (even though they hate each other). Nurse Laverne was a bible-thumping African-American woman obsessed both with her stories, and telling the main cast that their bad activities were going to send them to hell.

And for the first several years, it was really amazingly good. Scrubs’ first episode aired just a few weeks after September 11th, and I remember following the first season regularly enough that when I found out the show was only a year old or so, I was surprised. Hadn’t I been watching it longer than that? The show was almost less of a comedy, and more of a dramedy: it’s hard to paint the deaths of people, even fictional patients, in a light hearted manner, and yet the show was able to convey a sense of loss, and lessons learned, along with a touch of humor.

I would go so far as to say that Scrubs would be damn near perfect if NBC hasn’t picked it up for a seventh season, but they did, and, as I’d been watching it as much as I had, I quite clearly picked up on a noticeable drop off in quality. NBC apparently picked up on that, too, because they canceled the show – but never fear, ABC resurrected it. In either the first episode of that season, or at least one of the early ones, J.D. gives Turk and Elliot a pep-talk admonishing them “not to call it in”, and how they had to still “give it their all!” And that was nice – but a lie. By the end of the show’s run, people weren’t even pretending to take the characters seriously. J.D. went from a smart, studious doctor with a weird fun side to a weird guy with funny weird pranks who was an okay doctor. The relationship between J.D. and Cox, which had been slowly moving towards mentor/father figure, took an abrupt 180-degree spin back to how it was at the start of the show.

And then came the show’s finale. And it was — okay, not perfect. But it was damn good, and yeah, I’ll admit the touching montage coupled with Peter Gabriel’s Book of Love, made me well up a bit. But even then! They brought the show back for another season, basically rendering the entire finale null and void.

And if Season Eight was the cast “calling it in”, Season Nine was the cast daydreaming about being productive enough to call it in. The show retooled from the previous seasons, moving the setting from the Sacred Heart Hospital to a medical university, where several older characters — Dr. Cox, J.D., Turk — were now professors, and the focus of the show shifted to medical students. I don’t know what exactly caused ABC to extend the show’s life, so I will just say this: it was not, in the word of Zach Braff, “A good attempt”, it was a very, very poor and horrible attempt, and what’s worse is that the ninth season was neither funny, nor touching.

I will say that there was one good thing about the 9th Season: and that sole thing was Eliza Coupe as Denise “Jo” Mahoney as a regular member of the cast (she was a recurring character in the 8th season), and only — and I do mean only — because her character enjoys having sex with fat guys because “they work harder”, and I appreciate that point of view in women, even fictional women (except for Carrie Heffernan from King of Queens, because I find Leah Remini incredibly off-putting on every level it is possible for a human being to be, and on that note, having had to look up her character’s name, Kevin James’ character’s last name is a play on Heffer? Holy Asshole, sitcom writers!)

And for my favorite moment from the show’s run? Because, sure, while it never gets tired hearing Dr. Beardface angrily announce how to actually pronounce his name, Scrubs was best with the emotional heart-string pulling: yeah, I admit it, when Carla finally goes into Laverne’s room to say goodbye before she passes, I teared up.

Now I’m trying to decide what show to watch next. I’m torn between Highlander: The Series and The Wire.

Top Gun: The Sequel (Top Gunner?)

So, back in the 1980s, Tom Cruise was in a movie about Navy fighter pilots who spent all their days playing volleyball and their nights chasing loose women. And when they weren’t doing that, they were pretty much fucking up in fighter jets, which led to Anthony what’s-his-name from e.r. getting killed, but then it’s all okay because Tom Cruise beats all the Russians (without shooting them, what the fuck!), while Tim Robbins sits in the backseat of his F-14 screaming “WTF!”

Anyway, so that was 1986. It’s now 2010. That’s twenty-four years later, and apparently someone wants to make a sequel.

The follow-up flick is being developed by Paramount Pictures and, according to New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, the movie mavens have already made offers to both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott, who were on board for the first film.

A rep for Cruise said tells E! News that it will be a while before the actor makes any kind of decision about whether or not he’ll appear in the new high-flying flick. If he does return to the tarmac, however, Cruise’s role will be much smaller than it was in the previous film.

See, in the original film — and it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it — Tom Cruise is a fighter jock on an aircraft carrier (hint: if there’s an aircraft carrier in a movie, and the movie is being made by Paramount, what are the odds the carrier will be named the Enterprise? Answer: pretty damn good*) selected to go to Top Gun, an aviation combat school run by the Navy, despite the fact that his commanding officer thinks he’s “dangerous” and “a real fuck up.” I’m pretty sure if this movie was realistic, being “a real fuck up” would get one cashiered out of a fighter’s pilot seat, while being “dangerous” seems to be the whole point of the job. Who wants a cautious Drive Mrs. Daisy fighter pilot? “No, no, I insist, you make the first bombing run. No, really. It’s okay. I can wait.”

At Top Gun, Cruise (whose character’s call sign is “Maverick”, supposedly to constantly remind us that his character is “dangerous” and “a real fuck up”, Tim Robbin’s call sign is “Merlin”, apparently informing the audience that the guy used to be King Arthur’s wingman) is subjected to heckling from Val Kilmer for apparently embarrassing the hell out of Kilmer’s buddy who actually fucked up really really really badly at the start of the film, and whose life Cruise saved. Lesson here: save someone’s life, and their best friend will hate you for it. So why bother saving their life? Let ‘em fall into the ocean already.

Anyway, so Tom Cruise hunts some tail, gets mentored by this senior pilot (Tom Skerritt, who I will always think of as cantankerous old Sheriff Jimmy whatever from the wonderful Picket Fences), kills his bestest buddy Dr. Mark Green while show boating in the air, then goes off and out flies some Russians.

A buddy once explained all Tom Cruise movies like this: “His character is really good at whatever the movie is about. There’s a love interest. But then something happens and he loses all confidence. BUT! Then he’s tested and finds the inner strength to be the best as whatever the movie is about again. And then he reconciles with the love interest, and all is well and fine with the world.” I haven’t seen many of Cruise’s later films (the last one may have been Minority Report? Although admittedly Knight and Day is on my Netflix queue), but that seems about right.

Anyway, so here’s my prediction for Top Gun 2: The Need For More Speed. First, if they don’t have Harold Faltermeyer back to do the score, the whole movie is going to suck. Second, how can you do Top Gun without F-14s? It just seems wrong. Third, Tom Cruise flies no planes. As a Naval aviator in his late forties to early fifties, Cruise’s character is either commanding an aircraft carrier (they could do like, Top Gun 2 about boats instead of planes — hey, don’t laugh: Speed 2, bitches), or, and this is my guess, he’s taken over the Tom Skerritt role at Pensacola, FL.

Maybe Tom Skerritt can have a cameo as his character, retired, giving advice to Cruise’s character, when Cruise just doesn’t feel he has the inner strength to to be the best at teaching all these kids to be the best flight combat aviators in the US Navy. And then he’ll teach them and they’ll shoot someone down, which brings up another point: the whole point of the movie Top Gun was that in aerial dogfights, the Top Gun school gave US pilots an edge on their opponents. But in an era where there’s no nation that can stand up to the US militarily as the Soviet Union did in 1986, how exactly is this movie going to be all Top Gun-ny?

Well, either North Korea, or this’ll be a Behind Enemy Lines rehash (with Tom Cruise)**.

Oh, and I was wrong – Tropic Thunder. Amazing.

*Because, see, Paramount also produces this show and movie series called Star Trek which features the adventures of the crew of the Enterprise. The space ship Enterprise, not the aircraft carrier Enterprise, though.

**Done by 20th Century Fox: the carrier is the Carl Vinson.

Rest in Peace, Rogue States

I am not one of those fortunate few who work either for the Federal government, or for an organization that keeps the Federal holiday schedule, so Monday I was at work. But that was okay, because my plans for Monday night gave me something to look forward to: dinner with Greg, a former coworker from the Bookstore at Rogue States, a gourmet burger shop on Connecticut Avenue just south of Dupont Circle.

I have a hard time reviewing food. Honestly, either its good, or its bad. Or it could be great, or awesome. Don’t ask me to talk about flavors and stuff. So here’s my review of Rogue States: nice atmosphere, good (although somewhat lengthy) service, cheeseburger? Holy wonderfully awesome.

Tonight I was walking home along Connecticut Avenue after a night at the Bookstore where the highlight was directing two guys in removing a busted refrigerator out of the store, which was a lot harder than it had any right to be, even considering that it was like six feet tall and huge with these ridiculous steel panels and glass paneled door that wouldn’t stay shut. Harder even than all that would make something.

Anyway, so I was walking home, and I always like to turn my head to the left and look into the ambiance of Rogue States. Except this time there was something a little different about the sidewalk. I wasn’t entirely sure what that was until I was right on Rogue States — or rather, the former location of Rogue States. A large sign was on the door:

DEAR FRIENDS,
ON OCTOBER 12, JUDGE JOHN MCADAM MOTT ORDERED US TO CLOSE OUR RESTAURANT. AFTER A LONG BATTLE TO STAY OPEN AND KEEP OUR BUSINESS ALIVE, JUDGE MOTT FORCED OUR HAND BY SIDING WITH OUR NEIGHBOR, STEPTOE AND JOHNSON, A POWERFUL LAW FIRM THAT CLAIMS THAT THE SMELL OF OUR BURGERS IS MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO KEEP UP THE LAWYERING BUSINESS. TODAY, STEPTOE AND JOHNSON AND THE JUDGE GOT THEIR WAY, BUT THAT IS NOT THE END OF IT; WE ARE STILL FIGHTING TO REOPEN OUR BUSINESS AND ONCE AGAIN BRING YOU THE BEST BURGERS IN DC.

CHEF RAYNOLD MENDIZABAL

I don’t know whether to be heart broken or excited. Heart broken because, oh my god, those burgers were sooo good. Or excited because, hey, one less temptation on my way to losing weight.

I’m leaning towards heart broken.

The back story is that Steptoe and Johnson had sued the restaurant over a venting system that was pumping the wonderful aroma of chipotle cheeseburgers into their law firm, which was making their lawyers suffer a variety of ails such as, I don’t know, what is it lawyers are good for? Apparently shutting down awesome cheese burger places. Jerks.

The Fighting I

The USS Intrepid (“The Fighting I”) was an Essex-Class aircraft carrier which served in the United States Navy during the Second World War. The ship was commissioned in 1943, and served in the Pacific Ocean, participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The ship was stuck several times by kamikaze pilots, and had to return to port several times for repairs. Decommissioned in 1948, Intrepid was modernized and recommissioned in 1954, at which point she would serve a further twenty years before becoming New York City’s Sea-Air-Space Museum in 1982.

This is not a picture of the Intrepid. This is a picture of a model of the Intrepid a guy named Ed Diement made out of Lego. To give you an idea of scale, click here. Or here: that’s his wife lying down along the frame (the other frame is his model of HMS Hood). So, yeah, that’s well over twenty feet. Among my favorite details of the ship is the working elevator, which transports aircraft from the hanger deck to the flight deck.

The Intrepid was on display at the Great Western LEGO Show in Swindon UK earlier this month with two other models of US WWII warships: USS Pampanito (submarine), and USS Haggard (destroyer).

Other awesome Navy Lego ship models include the German Bismarck, the Japanese Yamato, and USS Harry S Truman (and here, too).

Weight Week Thirty: My NEW Newest Lowest Weight!

Okay.

So I did not achieve my goal of 229 pounds by October 5th. I didn’t even achieve my goal of posting my weight loss on Monday.

I was, however, this morning at 233.5, which is currently my lowest weight since I’ve been losing weight. I went for a six mile walk on Saturday morning. I’ve walked home from work when the weather has permitted, and I’ve spent time in the gym when able.

I still am having trouble buckling down and focusing.

My September Reads

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel DNF
The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt DNF
The Bismarck Episode by Capt. Russell Grenfell, RN
Up Till Now by William Shatner and David Fisher
<a href="Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Wolf Hall. I tried. I really, really tried. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting a little burned out on reading. Maybe I just couldn’t concentrate on reading while sitting waiting a call to be picked for a jury (yes, I was). But I could not get into Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winner of 2009 — maybe it was the way she wrote it, whatever. I got about fifteen pages in and I could go no farther. Having set this aside, I do intend to give it another try, and will probably take it along on my Thanksgiving break.

I think Byatt’s The Children’s Book fell victim to the same pressures. This is, again, another book that I intend to tackle.

Back in 1941, after France had fallen, and before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Great Britain stood alone against the Nazis. German submarines hunted freighters on the high seas, and the British government had calculated how many tons of it needed to be sunk for them to be forced to capitulate. That number was something like 700,000 tons. But the British were doing okay against German submarines. And then the Bismarck sailed out of the Baltic Sea: the biggest battleship afloat, the British dispatched the pride of their fleet, HMS Hood, which engaged Bismarck in the Denmark Strait at dawn the morning of May 24th. Minutes later, HMS Hood went to the bottom of the ocean, with all but three of her 1400+ crew. The British weren’t too happy about this. I mean, for one thing, the Bismarck had the power to sail unstopped across the Atlantic, sinking convoys at will, and forcing the British Empire to seek a negotiated end to the war. And for another, and some would argue more important thing: they’d blown up Hood! The hunt for the Bismarck is an incredible tale of, honestly, sheer luck. The British began assembling ships from across the Atlantic theater to find and sink this German battleship, and honestly, it’s … well, I’ll let you read the book: The Bismarck Episode was written by Captain Russell Grenfell, an officer in the Royal Navy who wrote about the whole sequence of events from the perspective of the British commanders involved. Just an incredible piece of work.

Okay, okay, this next one I’m going to take some flak on — a book by William Shatner? No less, an autobiography by him? I passed Up Till Now on our bargain racks for quite some time before a Tweet by @StopThePOTA got me to stop and pick it up. No secret than I’m a Star Trek dork, and I also spent much of last winter watching the back catalog of Boston Legal, so once I made the decision to buy the book, I was comfortable with it. And it was a quick and easy read — Shatner (or his co-writer, David Fisher) is quite a story teller, and of course paints himself in the best light, explaining among other things, why he thinks the rest of the Star Trek cast hates him.

Finally: Kafka on the Shore. This is the first Murakami book I’ve owned, but the first I read was Norwegian Wood, about two years ago. Kafka on the Shore is pretty trippy: it follows two characters, one is a 15-year old runaway, Kafka, the other is an elderly simpleton, Nakata. Kafka is running away before he fulfills an oedipal curse: he’ll kill his father, and sleep with his mother and sister. Nakata, on the other hand, can talk to cats and needs to find the “entrance stone.” This is a very strange book, admittedly, but it’s amazing, and my only regret is that it took so long for me to pick it up (my buddy Tim gave it to me as a gift back in, I dunno, ’05? ’06?)

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