What I’ve been watching on TV this Fall

I thought I’d break out my old entertainment writer cap and write a little commentary on what TV shows I’ve been watching this Fall. I’ve enjoyed it so far. So here goes:

Brothers & Sisters (ABC, 10 p.m.)
I ought to hate this show because it has so many actors that I haven’t liked through the years like Sally Field, Patricia Wettig, and Ron Rifkin. However, I find myself glued to the TV for it every Sunday night even though I don’t watch the desperate lead-in show. Is Calista Flockhart (playing someone like Ann Coulter) the attraction? I don’t know. Maybe the attraction is Rachel Griffiths, who first caught my eye in Six Feet Under on HBO. Oh, and it’s very well written. That’s probably the real key to my attraction.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8 p.m.)
I didn’t watch this last season, but gave it a look over the Summer one night when it was the critic’s choice in the paper and there was nothing else interesting on. I got hooked in two episodes or so. This is the worthy successor to Friends as the current standard bearer as a “New York-based sitcom about 20-something singles in the city.” Neil Patrick Harris shines as Barney, a great wisecracking womanizer full of one-liners (that writing thing again).

I was watching Vanished on Fox on Monday nights, but it got banished to Fridays and then canceled shortly thereafter. I don’t watch, but wish luck to, Studio 60 on Sunset Strip (NBC, 10 p.m.) because I like Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet and I typically love any show that Aaron Sorkin is involved in.

Standoff (Fox, 8 p.m.)
How can you not like FBI hostage negotiators at work and somewhat secret lovebirds after hours Matt and Emily? Once again, you gotta have good writers to pull off something as dialog-heavy as hostage negotiation.

NCIS (CBS, 8 p.m.)
While I’m watching Standoff, I’m recording NCIS on my DVR for later viewing. I haven’t watched this from the beginning, but quickly became enamored of this show once I did give it a look. Hmmm, witty banter again, do I sense a theme?

House (Fox, 9 p.m.)
I think that while House is intended to be a medical drama, I watch it as a comedy, albeit a very dark one. I would not recommend this show to my mother. I started watching it on recommendation from a student.

Lost (ABC, 9 p.m.)
Well, I’m not currently watching this because it’s had it’s Fall finale, with new episodes not in the offing until February. I’m not sure I like the latest new direction the show has taken this season, but I’m willing to stick with it to see what happens.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 9 p.m.)
Yes, I watch the trendiest show on TV. I have to in order to keep up with the discussions of the show among all the students at UF. And yes, they all watch it.

Shark (CBS, 10 p.m.)
Shark edges out Standoff as my favorite new show. Start with James Woods as a very successful former defense attorney turned prosecutor of just the sort of high-profile cases he used to provide defense counsel for. Also make him a single father of a teenage daughter. Oh, just watch the show.

Battlestar Galactica (SciFi, 9 p.m.)
I was a teenager when the original aired way back when. The new show is about a thousand times better. No camp here. And the visual look is most reminiscent of the Alien films. Not even the metallic cylons are particularly bright and shiny. Nothing is.

After writing this, I have now officially decided that I probably watch too much TV.

Casino Royale

I’m excited about Casino Royale opening at the movies today. I don’t think I’ll see it this weekend, but hope to see it by the end of next weekend.

I read the book last weekend. I happened upon a copy of it at the “store closing” sale at the bookstore at the outlet mall last week. I have a couple others that I inherited from my Grandfather, but I had never read one of the books in its entirety even though I’ve seen most of the movies many, many times. I recommend the book to fans of the Bond movies.

You may be aware from the movie publicity that Casino Royale was the first novel Ian Fleming wrote in the Bond series. Here are some reasons to give it a read:

  • You get to read Bond going to see M for the first time.
  • Yes, that means Miss Moneypenny.
  • You get to read Fleming’s original dialog of Bond ordering a martini. Yes, it’s vodka. No, it’s not your average vodka martini. Yes, it’s shaken, but no, he doesn’t utter the words “not stirred.”
  • You get to find out just what SMERSH was.
  • And yes, Vesper Lynd is the original Bond girl.

Check it out.

My new audio recorder

iPod plus TuneTalkStereoI picked up a new gizmo last week on my holiday Friday off of work, a Belkin TuneTalk Stereo accessory for my iPod. It records in either “CD quality” (44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo) or lower quality (22.05 KHz, mono) using its built-in stereo microphone or from an external microphone or sound source using its 1/8″ input jack. It only works with “5G” iPods. It cost $69 at The Apple Store.

We’ve been doing a lot more with audio at work this year and it’s been fun. It’s handy to carry an audio recorder around and this is certainly much smaller than a Microtrack is, if I have my iPod with me anyway. It can also record for a lot more time and certainly has longer battery life than the Microtrack.

I was asked today, “what are you going to record with it?” and couldn’t give a good answer. It would have been handy to have along on my trip to Britain this year so I could show family here what the family members we met over there sound like. I can take it to church and record more sermons for the Web site (even though Gary has passed away and I miss him tremendously). If my grandparents or my father were still around, I could use it to record oral history from them. If you’re a family historian or genealogist, I think an audio recorder is now a must-have tool (I’m a recovering one). I can record the wind chimes on my back porch or the sandhill cranes down by the lake.

When I showed it to Mindy today she said she wanted to hear some samples online (I suppose so she can hook me up on her work blog). These were made with the built-in mic. I haven’t tried any of the better mics we have around yet. They are also unprocessed except for conversion from .wav to .mp3 format.

The following was recorded in my office. I just grabbed an announcement off the table in the lab and read it into the recorder.


I wanted something better than that, though. So at home I read a passage from the book I read over the weekend. I like it better.


Update (14 Nov): I had a brief opportunity today to try it out with an Electro-Voice 635B handheld microphone. I read the guest speaker announcement again because that was handy. The levels came in a little lower than the built-in mic, possibly due the low-end cable that was available today. We have some other cables ordered and we’ll try that when they arrive in a few days.


Photo presentation online at my work site

Last night at UF, renowned photojournalist David Burnett gave an excellent presentation at the Union auditorium in conjunction with his exhibition opening at the Union gallery. The humor and enthusiasm in his talk was infectious and I came away with a lot of enthusiasm for the art form. Let’s see what I do with it. You can watch a replay of the presentation online, which I produced.

It was interesting to note that at any given time he could take a picture with a Canon D-SLR, a 4×5 Graflex, a Holga, or a digital point-and-shoot, which he produced to take a photo of the audience so he could show his Mom how many people came out to see him. I might have to pick up a Holga to play with.

I’m writing about this here rather than at work because this is where I blog about photography.

Update: After I sent him a tip, photographer, author, and editor Derrick Story posted a link to here and the webcast on his excellent blog, The Digital Story. I highly recommend his blog and podcast to anyone serious about their photography.