Category Archives: Cary

The Importance of Friends

This coming Monday (September 22nd) marks the 20th anniversary of the first airing of the first episode of the sitcom Friends. And while I could blather on about how that makes me feel “soooo old!” instead, Friends reminds me more of my friends and the bonds we formed over the show. But more than that, Friends was simply fine television. Yeah, it was (and still is) easy to make fun of its broadness and archetypical characters, or put down for being too fluffy and inconsequential, but Friends demonstrated a power that had only been captured by a handful of sitcoms before it. It was a show that was easy for everyone to watch. Whether you laughed with the cast or at it, you still laughed, and you still watched because there was just some about it that was so appealing.

I didn’t watch Friends from the start. In fact, even when I started watching the show, I didn’t think of it in any significant way until I started seeing girls in my classes with the infamous “Rachel” haircut. In September 1994, I was a college sophomore. I had just moved into a new dorm room with a dear friend and a brand new 13-inch(!) TV that I had received for my birthday. This meant we didn’t have to congregate in one of the common rooms with strangers around a television; we could watch whatever we wanted whenever we wanted! (Read: we could watch whatever channels we were lucky enough to receive through the college’s piddly cable contract. Thankfully that included the major networks, at least.)

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Under the Dumb

Or that’s what we call it anyway. The show’s actual title is Under the Dome, but you watch it and tell me it’s not the dumbest show on television. Better yet, just imagine a sparkly snow globe featuring a little forest of trees. Staring at the glittery plastic falling on more plastic is exactly like watching the Under the Dome in its mesmerizing simplicity, except not as dumb.

Be mesmerized.

When ads for Under the Dome started appearing last year, I was curious. If you’ve been following me here, you may have picked up on the fact that I’m a fan of Stephen King‘s work. Though I hadn’t read his book Under the Dome (2009), I knew that it had been generally well received by critics.  The TV ads made it sound mysterious enough – town gets trapped under an invisible dome, hilarity ensues – but it didn’t enter the realm of must-see-TV last summer. And the more ads I saw for it, which seemed to intensify in silliness from week to week, the less interested I became.

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Standing at the Crossroads with JRPGs

The other day I did an incredibly rare thing – I purchased a video game on a whim, without any forethought or questioning, without any rhyme or reason. In all my years of gaming, the act of purchasing a game has never been something I’ve taken lightly. I tend to play it close to the chest when buying games, preferring to stick with franchises I know and trust or games that I’ve thoroughly read up on and believe are worth my hard earned sixty dollars. But in the case of this very capricious choice, I went against my own rules and sensibilities.

No need to hold on to your butts here; the game I purchased wasn’t anything all that far-flung, just Final Fantasy XIII-2. Yep, that’s all, simply a Final Fantasy game. I turned on the Xbox, noticed its little sale ad on the homepage, and made the purchase. And I can’t explain why.

Maybe because of the epicness?
Maybe because of the epicness?

Though I’ve never watched FFXIII-2 in action, I’ve read plenty about it, and most everything made me want to stay far away from this most recent “Lightning” trilogy. Though I like the few FF games I’ve played well enough, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the series.  I like turn-based combat fine, but my understanding was that the FFXIII games deviated from that norm in ways not terribly pleasant. TL;DR Final Fantasy XIII-2 was never on my radar. And yet here I am now the proud(?) owner of it, and I’m not holding out hope that I’ll actually have time to really sink my teeth into it in the near future.

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Bidding farewell to another summer

Up until several years ago, the most melancholy time of year for me was New Years. Not because of the prospect of the new year itself, but because it marked the end of Christmas. Yes, I love me some Christmastime, and having to put all of its holiday cheer into storage once made me profoundly sad.

Now, I would count Labor Day weekend as the most sobering time of year. Recently, the unofficial end of summer has taken on new meaning and presents newer burdens that I hadn’t carried before. There’s tons to do in order to get the house ready for winter nesting. However, I can’t say that the downside of summer’s end is really a “downside.” After all, there’s nothing better than an autumn’s evening breeze and the beauty of fall colors in nature. Summer’s hectic pace of vacationing here and going there calms somewhat, and free time once again becomes a little more attainable.  There’s a new crop of TV shows to check out (and probably end up hating, or really liking before they get canceled after one season), and dinners become cozy and comforting again.

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Don’t Call it a (Fashion) Comeback

Fashion is a finicky business…for the wearers. You may think you’re harboring the latest trends in your short trousers and funky oxfords, but what’s “in” and “out” can change in the blink of an eye. Certainly there are timeless looks that will never go out of style, but there’s nothing wrong with buying a little into the latest fad. And as we’ve recently seen, a number of trends from the past, such as the whole “skinny” look that’s quite popular for both men and women, seem to be here to stay for good. Other past fads have also been popping up here and there — fads that were once quite the thing but have since fallen out of favor with the general public. It was said that the return of leggings in the 21st century might have started with Lindsey Lohan. In the case of some of these minor attempts at reviving fashion fads, it would probably take a whole army of Lohans (scary!) to re-gift them to the masses. Some smaller trends  have never really disappeared, but rather have hung around the fringes of wardrobes and department stores just waiting for another brief moment in the sun. Here are a few I’ve noticed on the streets of my city.

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R.I.P. Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Upon hearing of Robin’s Williams’s death earlier this week, a number of memories immediately flashed through my mind:

Friend Like Me” from Disney’s Aladdin.

Williams’s take on humanity in Mork and Mindy.

His guest appearance on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

And then I remembered how I felt after watching the first episode of his new (now cancelled) show, The Crazy Ones – disappointed. Though there was still life in his star, it was an improper stage for his talents. He was much more well suited in larger-than-life roles.

Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire
Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire (© 20th Century Fox, 1993)

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Washington, D. C. for the Agoraphobically-Inclined

Earlier this week, I visited Washington, D. C. Again. And I had a wonderful time. With a few exceptions, I usually have a great time whenever I go to Washington. I’ve been on or making semi-regular trips to Washington, D. C. since grade school. The vast majority of them occurred with my family. A couple were for school or with friends, and a few were solo or duo trips. Even after I moved away from home, trips back almost always included a train or car ride down to Washington, specifically to the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums. The National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the host of other lesser-known museums that make up what most people simply call “The Smithsonian.”

While portions of this tourist district haven’t changed in thirty years, the institutions and monuments that stand there have. New memorials have been erected, new events take place almost every day on that long, grassy area between the Capitol building and the Washington Monument, but most of all, the Smithsonian museums have become active. Yes, they’ve always been active centers bustling with people, but now they serve to promote active history rather than showcase dead things and objects behind glass. It’s an amazing transformation, and one that’s very heartening to witness. It also makes me very happy to see that, after all these years, this area continues to attract crowds by the millions.

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