The highlight of the new season of Arrested Development came about ten seconds in

I first want to apologize that this post is a little late. I only just finished the new season of Arrested Development. As chronicled last time I wrote explicitly about the show, I decided to re-watch the entire thing just as Season 4 was released on Netflix. I figured it was a low-risk move, because even if I hated the new season, I’d still have enjoyed the first 3/4 of what I just watched. And I think one month is pretty respectable, given that I have a full-time “job”… and given all the time I waste writing here.

Fortunately, I didn’t hate the new season, though I understand if you got that sense from the title of this post. I mean, it was certainly different from Seasons 1-3 — it felt like the storyline of a single episode played in really, really slow motion — and, I would be willing to admit, worse. But really, the original series was a pretty high bar to clear, and I didn’t expect Season 4 to reach that standard going in, so I finished up mostly pleased with the results. My apologies to those of you who believe it was a travesty. Ask for your money back, I guess.

In any event, let’s get to that highlight I promised. There were certainly plenty of other “moments” throughout the fifteen new episodes, but after I noticed the joke I’m about to share, I knew the season would turn out alright. As Episode 1 begins, Ron Howard introduces his viewers to Cinco de Cuatro:

It was May *clears throat* it was May 4, and in the bayside town of Newport Beach, the annual celebration known as Cinco de Cuatro was underway. The Holiday started as a particularly vicious response by a young Lucille Bluth to the Mexican Holiday… of Cinco de Mayo.

And so, before we get a glimpse of the original characters we’ve waited years to see, the viewers are treated to Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen, and Dr. Seuss. Even as someone who just said he was mildly pleased with the overall product, I’m willing to admit this was a lame opening. So what in that bit do I consider the highlight of the entire season?

Cinco de Cuatro: May the Fourth (be with you). What’s the joke here? Well, there’s the obvious Spanish fail: “Fifth of Fourth” is probably not what Lucille was going for. And Barack Obama was roundly ridiculed for making the same mistake back in 2009 [note that the two most-liked comments on that video, as of the time of this writing, are “He made a huge mistake,” and “Hello darkness my old friend”]. But these are all pretty silly — is there anything more to see here than a cheap gag?

I believe Yes — a cheap, dirty gag:

Continue reading The highlight of the new season of Arrested Development came about ten seconds in


ABC loses all sense of what constitutes a news headline — and news

Friday morning, ABC ran a story its anchors introduced as follows:

“This morning, a visit to a hidden gem of Upper Manhattan: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que founder and owner John Stage makes us a sandwich and talks about what makes barbecue oh so special.”

“This is guaranteed to make you want barbecue for breakfast.”

Watching the video that ensued did not make me want to consume barbecue for breakfast, or at any other time. I want my money back. [Editor’s note: Yes, I’m aware I paid only in opportunity cost.]

I’ll be honest: I don’t watch a lot of TV, and when I do, I certainly don’t watch a lot of TV of this sort. So I’m not so much here to complain about the topic — maybe it was a slow news morning, maybe it was a Friday, or maybe this is just what TV has become — but about how ABC went about titling the video online:

Continue reading ABC loses all sense of what constitutes a news headline — and news

Who’s got two thumbs and liked all of last week’s Supreme Court decisions? These guys

As you probably heard, last week was a big one for American politics. The Senate passed its immigration reform bill, Wendy Davis stood around for a really long time in Texas, and the Supreme Court handed down four eagerly-anticipated long-awaited cases: Fisher, Windsor, Perry, and Shelby Co. — in addition to some less-noticed but possibly nearly-as-important decisions like Koontz.

And while the week-after is typically too soon to fully evaluate the legal ramifications of those SCOTUS decisions — they should generate law review articles for years to come — one thing is clear: nobody seems to be perfectly happy with how everything went down. Even the all-powerful Anthony Kennedy filed a dissent in Perry.

Except, I’d venture, the guys throwing a party in the basement of my building on Thursday evening:

Continue reading Who’s got two thumbs and liked all of last week’s Supreme Court decisions? These guys

Now we can all see those photos of bin Laden

In 2011, I met an American diplomat of some sort attending Chabad’s seder in Kathmandu. I have his card somewhere — assuming it’s his real card — but the one fact about him I remember without even looking at it is where he was stationed: in Pakistan. He traveled all the way to Kathmandu to celebrate Passover presumably because he didn’t trust the kashrus in Isalamabad.

One week after Passover 2011 drew to a close, Osama bin Laden was caught and killed by the United States. I like to imagine my new acquaintance, and the interesting week/month/year/[however much longer he was in Pakistan] he had for himself.

I was probably among the last Americans on this planet to find out about the strike. Living in a remote Nepali village, without electricity, without television, and without the internet made keeping up with the outside world somewhat difficult. Apparently, the passal (where we took all our meals twenty minutes up the road) carried Obama’s speech live — but it was a cold and rainy night, and the volunteers all stayed home. All that was reported to us the next day was that President Obama had been on television — which was actually impressive, given that many of the people in our village did not recognize the name Obama (or find Nepal on a map of the world).

Being so far away from the United States at such a tumultuous time was interesting for another reason as well: rather than celebrate the event with my American friends (firing AK-47s into the air and handing out candy, I’m sure), I experienced it in the company of Nepalis. To them, it was something that happened. Whatever. And as I recounted in my blog, they weren’t entirely clear on the details of what had gone down with the body.

As it turns out, neither was the rest of the world. The military reportedly disposed of Osama’s body over the side of a ship, and the Obama administration refused to release photographs in an effort to prevent the image from inciting riots that would put Americans abroad at risk (just look at what happened in Benghazi! – and all from one little movie ;-)):

Continue reading Now we can all see those photos of bin Laden

Standing up for my major: Why we need Biology in schools

Anyone who went to college in the United States — or just knows how to read — is probably familiar with the debate over whether a liberal arts education serves any sort of practical purpose.

On one side, you have English professor Verlyn Klinkenborg’s passionate defense of the English major in the pages of the New York Times. On the other, you’ve got Avenue Q:

Continue reading Standing up for my major: Why we need Biology in schools

Guest post: Stalking a Barnard grad all over the internet

By: Zviiiiiiiiiiiiiii

I remember being impressed by the sheer number of people in the graduating class my year at Penn. Much of my graduation was spent looking out over the crowd to see how many friends and acquaintances I could pick out (Editor’s note: not many, but based on the photographic evidence below, min=5).

Here’s a herd of gazers, including me with an umbrella under my chin (because rain had threatened earlier — Editor’s note: “and I have a weak neck”):


Fortunately, no professional photographers captured the moment, or we could have soon become symbols for academic malaise and anxiety — which is precisely what happened to one Barnard graduate:

Continue reading Guest post: Stalking a Barnard grad all over the internet

With Aaron Hernandez, the warning signs were there — if you just knew where to look

And I’m not talking about this article featuring Aaron Hernandez joking about ‘hits’.

With the news today that Hernandez is being investigated for possible involvement in a year-old double murder — meaning he might have played a year in the NFL as a double-murderer and thereby set a new record to go along with his franchise record for most receptions by a rookie tight end — it’s worth investigating whether someone should have figured out something was up sooner than they did.

The answer, obviously, is Yes. Just take a look at his filmography:

Continue reading With Aaron Hernandez, the warning signs were there — if you just knew where to look

Aaron Hernandez charged with murder; which city will welcome him home next?

A few days ago, when it looked like Aaron Hernandez was about to be arrested for obstruction of justice, I not-so-subtly accused him of having committed considerably more than that. I made those allegations on the basis of no specific information in particular, which I suppose means I may have exposed myself to liability for libel had he never been so charged.*

But no matter: Hernandez was finally arrested this morning and charged with murder — bad news for Hernandez, but good news for my credibility. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those darn texts and deliberately-sabotaged home security system and actual video footage and proximity to the event and acquaintance with the victim and especially for those meddling kids.

Hernandez’s team, the New England Patriots, immediately tried to distance itself from the tight end, announcing his release just two hours after news broke of the arrest — and just one year after signing him to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract. The NFL as a league tried to distance itself, as well, releasing a statement calling the arrest “deeply troubling”:

Continue reading Aaron Hernandez charged with murder; which city will welcome him home next?

Elisheva Goldberg: evolution of an anti-Israel activist

What’s that terrorist-sympathizing cousin of mine been up to? Would you believe it, something Jewish — sort of.

Dear Ollis Shvoonkels spent her 17 Tammuz, like me, observing the fast — and incorporating the event into her writing:

Today is the 17th day of Tammuz, a fast day for observant Jews, one which marks the day the walls of Jerusalem fell. It’s a sad day, one that begins the three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. These weeks, and especially fast days that bookend them, are about remembering the experience of loss. Losing a place, a tradition, a way of life. They are hard, they are long, and they are why I decided to go to the South Hebron Hills today, to a place known as “Firing Zone 918.”

The gathering was organized by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Breaking the Silence, among others. And it was an answer to the rallying cry of a group of Israeli authors who had signed a letter penned by one of their number—David Grossman—who called to all “those who are still able to listen” to “do something to bend back the occupation’s giant, cruel hand,” this time in Firing Zone 918.

You can head over the Zion Square [sic] to read the whole thing.

None of this would be noteworthy — Goldberg’s daily occupation, if you will[, it is no dream] — had her latest expression of anti-Israel sentiment [bolded, as usual] not helped her acquire a brand new friend. Fellow travelers, if you will[, it is no dream]:

Continue reading Elisheva Goldberg: evolution of an anti-Israel activist

What really happened to American hiker “missing” in paradise?

$1.2 million evaporated on a flight from Switzerland to New York.

Edward Snowden is doing his best to disappear on a flight from Moscow to Ecuador.

And at Snowden’s destination, August Reiger just pulled off a vanishing act of his own.

The 18 year-old National Merit Scholar (lol) and high school valedictorian disappeared from an Ecuadorian bathroom a hiking trail in Banos, Ecuador, just minutes ahead of his family. I initially took interest in the case soon after Reiger disappeared because if you say “August Reiger” out loud, he basically shares my last name — days before Barack Obama followed suit and designated him a “missing patriot.” (I was a bit ahead of the curve, is what I’m saying.)

At first, the disappearance seemed like a complete mystery. The family and government officials offered no leads:

“Whatever happened to him was in the space of five or 10 minutes. We were right behind him,” his father says. “He couldn’t have gotten lost. The whole of the trail is visible from the hotel. You can see the way down. It’s a tourist area, and it’s not isolated at all. If he was hurt on the trail, somebody would have seen him.”

Police, firefighters, volunteers, and even the military have been searching for the teen; his father says authorities believe he either fell off a ledge or was kidnapped. [Editor’s note: authorities apparently have very limited imaginations. He could have also been eaten by a jaguar.]

But like any good game of Clue, the passage of time helps eliminate certain possibilities. For one thing, we know he didn’t fall off the cliff (or become dinner for a jaguar) because he was spotted Monday night in a truck headed for the Amazon — alive. For another, it seems unlikely he was kidnapped: the family has not been contacted by kidnappers, nor have they been asked for a ransom.

Of course, ruling out those options leave one other obvious alternative: that Reiger ran away. That possibility struck some who knew him as unlikely:

Close cousin to August Reiger, Laura Laporte, said their family is small and close.

“He’s sweet,” Laporte said. “People love him. He has big plans.”

She wants everyone to know the family believes Reiger disappearing on his own terms is out of the question.

“What we know in our hearts is that he’s not runaway,” Laporte said. “I have read that a couple of places that some people feel like he has done this intentionally. We know August and that’s just not something that could have been possible.”

Well add another notch to your Reiger counter: Paper Treiger is another place that suspects he did this intentionally. I arrived that conclusion through a combination of the process of elimination — not a cliff, not a jaguar, and not a kidnapping — and logical deduction. That logic kicked in when I came across one other quote intended to reassure the public that August did not run away — but which, in fact, accomplished precisely the opposite:

“He has got a full ride scholarship to OU [University of Oklahoma — I know it’s backwards, but at least it’s kosher]; he’s got a full life waiting for him in OKC.”

Did you just say Oklahoma City? Run, August. Run.