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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Thoughts: How To Tell Your $20 is fake, John Hart Ely RIP, Paper Trails in Touchscreen Voting, and Justice Janice R. Brown.

The NY Knicks started their season with an overtime loss, after blowing a ten point Fourth Quarter lead. Join the NY loser brigade, guys!

As to tv ... Norm Macdonald was great on Conan O'Brien earlier this week, rambling on and on with his convoluted (and ultimately hilarious) stories. His humor had less edge on "A Minute With Stan Hooper," (FOX Wed 8:30PM) which the NYT feels is unfortunate, but I found the show often very funny. This is not as easy as it sounds given most sitcoms today. It was good that I saw it, since this week's "West Wing" was totally depressing and felt as long as the last class before vacation. The show really needs some work.

Monday, October 27, 2003

NY Losers and Winners ... Mainly Losers: The fact that the NY Giants managed to beat the previously unbeaten Vikings, even after making a few mistakes, is typical ... they have what it takes, but aren't consistent enough to show it week after week. Since the Eagles beat the NY Jets (17-14 at the end of the Third Quarter, 17-24 at the end of the game, not helped by Chad's first drive ending with a fumble in the Red Zone near the end of the First Half), the 3-4 Giants might not have enough to show their potential and get to the playoffs. Anyway, the Jets loss was a bummer.

The Yankees World Series loss in six was a bit surprising (I thought it would go seven, but the Yankees failed to show enough life even with their back against the wall) but deserved. Three straight losses, ending up with the other team celebrating at Yankee Stadium might just be what it takes for some serious changes to occur. It's time.

As to other subjects, Dana Priest's book The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military argues that in the current world the US military is more and more the guiding force in its foreign policy, even if it is not the best group for the job. The book's theme however is not given an extended discussion per se, since Priest (Washington Post reporter whose bylines top critical Bush administration piece after critical Bush administration piece) uses military actions throughout the world (especially Kosovo) to tell the tale for her. And, this is how a book of over four hundred pages becomes a page turner, able to be enjoyed as a sort of adventure story as much as critical look at the military mission today. The book was written before the Iraq War, but as its approach was clear, and is all the more telling as time goes by.

Meanwhile, I caught "Intolerable Cruelty," which in my opinion explains the effect of this movie on the audience. The movie is advertised as a "romantic comedy," and though it is barely a romance, the comedy is mainly of the "oh, I see how this is supposed to be funny," and not even that much can be said at times. The Coen brothers are known for some quirky classics and some that are just quirky, but worth watching all the same. This is truly a failed effort, so much I was amazed at how bad it actually turned out to be. It began with a totally unfunny first scene and ending with a totally lame ending. Where was all the "sparring" of the two leads? A key trick is not to be believed and the response less so. I don't know why this film even got so many good reviews.

Afterwards, our party (lol) (we all disliked the film, each with different tastes) went out to eat. Annoying exercise. I might be mistaken, but I do not think I'm too fussy when it comes to restaurants. I do dislike bad service, including waiting to be seated and waited on (dining room around half empty). I would not like to wait around fifteen minutes or more to get my appetizer or finish my dessert before my coffee comes. And, this is partly bad luck, if I will get a steaming hot pasta dish (unlike my companions), serving my meal last is a bad idea. The food was pretty good, but the selection of Italian dishes was somewhat mediocre. Finally, though I cannot really do so, I will mixed in the fact that right after I left, I found out the Jets lost by one score.

Maybe, I am fussy?

Friday, October 24, 2003

World Series: Not going according to the Yankee script, huh?

Roger Ebert annoys me again: I respect Roger Ebert's talent and as a fan of movie reviews (reviews are like editorials, they try to condense and express what you believe into well written phrases) I often enjoy his material. All the same, he annoys me, which is nothing special, I guess ... commentators seem to annoy me more than I use ellipses in my remarks. Still, Ebert at times goes into pretentious mode or (perhaps worse) does something that other critics at times do as well -- make comments that lead to believe they really didn't see the movie.

An example of the former is his reeming of the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," which he gives zero stars. He likes this film as much as Gregg Easterbrook liked "Kill Bill" (Ebert really enjoyed the movie). I checked the Rotten Tomato website and determined about one out of three critics gave positive reviews to the movie. I presume some of the rest felt it was bad, but not REAL bad. This leads me to argue that Ebert is a bit full of himself, and just doesn't like the sort of film involved here. His snide comment about the past employment of the director suggests this.

My problems with his review of Pieces of April is a bit more nuanced. It involves various comments found in the review that are not really based on opinion but on fact. A major thing that annoyed me is his discussion of the closing montage, which he suggests might be a result of the movie (a small independent effort) ran out of money. He basically misses the point, in my humble opinion, given the title -- "Pieces of April," snapshots of April, get it?

I also do not know what else was required in the film. The mother already had a telling moment in the bathroom. The family got to NYC, April had various dramatic and humorous experiences, and the dinner was done. Did he want some tacked on "conclusion" involving the family eating dinner and so forth? For what purpose? The fact they didn't interact much at all adds to the film. You want family interaction, see What's Cooking? The movie in my view was a good length, though perhaps a bit more time with the boyfriend might have helped. I agree with Ebert that his story was undeveloped. On the other hand, it was throughout, so extending the film itself might not have done much good.

I am also somewhat in disagreement with him on the boyfriend. I felt the subplot was a bit amusing, a "shaggy dog" story of sorts, that put him in a good light. I don't quite know how we are supposed to understand he is a middle class, unless some asides suggested as such, especially given where they live and all. Also, if he was middle class, would his "errand" be done in that way? It felt more that he came from a poorer family, thus finding a cheap suit would be special if a bit problematic to carry out gesture on his part. This might be a matter of undevelopment, but this is not surprising (but somewhat annoying, since if you set up a black boyfriend, why not give him more of a role in the story?) since the movie is mainly about her (original) family.

I also agree that the joke Ebert finds distasteful is somewhat "half-baked," but I did not take it as negatively as he did. Also, we already know he is a good guy, and why he looks like that. Why a comment on when "we find out" this out? Also, not only is it a realistic thing for the family to be scared (are they supposed to realize it is the boyfriend who looks like the dad?), it serves as an advancement of the plot. It is the direct reason why the family at first doesn't go up to April's apartment. Is this not relevant?

A couple other things. A whole scene is based on there never being a moment when April was a good daughter. Therefore, when we she the "good" daughter? The reason the youngest is annoyed is that she knows this not to be true, so feels April is wrong to force the family to go eat dinner with her. The grandmother really does not have many "perfectly timed zingers," and in fact the mother implies that she knows more than she lets on. This might actually be true; it is an intersting comment all the same. And, I do wonder if the next film made under less pressure, etc., will truly be better. After all, I found this film pretty good, and more money and time often only gives you the same flaws, just with a bigger budget.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Partial Birth Ban: Symbolic? Vague? Misleading?

World Series: The Yanks won Game 3 vs the Marlins' ace, Josh Beckett (whose 9-8 regular season record is apparently a trick), so the "okay, it's basically over" comments started. Then, Clemens (in his last start, apparently) gave up three runs early, and Carl Pavano (great in relief, decent starting) went eight innings and only gave up one run. The Yanks scored two in the ninth to save Clemens (who held firm and went seven, not adding to those three) from a loss (he also got a hit, unfortunately not when the bases were loaded). When Weaver came in, it was just a matter of time ... the game winner came in his second inning of relief.

I thought this series would go long ... at 2-2, it becomes a best of three, and a Game Seven is far from unlikely. Just ask the Cubs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Thoughts: Buckley and the Cuba Embargo (article), WA Post and Boondocks, Justice Stevens speaks, and Case For Impeaching Bush (reply).

Sports: Jets are 2-4, and the playoffs are just a matter of time. So, it seems to be the sentiment of the team, now that Chad is due back next week. Anyway, it was nice to see them come from 14-0 behind, even if it was against the Texans. The scare from the final kickoff return to the 27 yd line was not appreciated, but at least the Jets actually stopped it before it lost them the game. KC barely escaped as well the next day when the rarely used Oakland backup drove from their own 6 to the KC one in the final ninety seconds or so, after barely stopping KC from getting the First Down that would have ended the game. This year, MNF actually is exciting again, though the announcers are dull.

Skin, the new Monday Night Romeo/Juliet show involving a struggle between a politically ambitious DA and a porn king and their teenage children, who fall in love, was a bit dull. Oh, and Coupling (American rip-off) was pre-empted last week. Bad sign, but a good one perhaps, since thus far it looks pretty lame. I do hope that Miss Match (pushed back an hour) is not on its way out, since I do find it has promise. If anything, the new time slot is worse, since already there are two shows on Friday Night at nine that I could be watching, three if JAG actually still is good (doesn't sound like it). Just how big is that time slot's audience, anyway?

Sunday, October 19, 2003

It's Official: The Giants Are F-ing Losers.
World Series Begins: Game One suggests that it will be a challenging series for the Yankees, who continue to play games without a big margin of error. They eked out two runs, gave up three though one might very well have been cut off at the plate with a good throw, and thus lost the game. David Wells, after pitching to three batters on Thursday, pitched a good game (seven innings), but the Yankees missed opportunities and overall will not win like this. It was just plain tedious to watch, like one of a ton Mets games this year, but sadly not too atypical of their play at times.

Pieces of April
was a little gem, which was good because I just recently watched (at same theater in fact) "Demonlover," a film I had to walk out of because it was so tiring. Nothing much really happens for most of the first half, except for some stereotypical characters (the ice queen, macho chauvinistic French guy with a few days growth on his face to prove it, cocky American who smokes pot [Gina Gershon overacting again], and so on) who spend more of the time mostly negotiating a merger. Some growingly unbelievable stuff occurs as well, but the second half must be rather good given some of the high praise given for this film.

I speak about Gregg Easterbrook's controversial column on media violence here.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

"I actually think the Marlins might have an edge ... they have stellar pitching and a bit more offense. The Cubs bullpen is questionable; the Marlins bullpen has shown their stuff repeatedly vs. the Giants." [October 7] Unfortunately, I was right, though when they were up 3-1 or 3-2 and six outs away, I thought differently. Some do feel it's a good thing that the Cubs/Red Sox match-up was not to be, while Dave Barry is more sarcastic (and hilarious) than usual in rooting for the Marlins.

Sorry to say, he is right, the Cubs choked, though a fan might have helped them out. [I didn't see it, but pictures seem to imply that the ball was out of field of play, so technically it was not interference.] As to the Red Sox, I am relieved, since it would have been really sad if they got in without the Cubs. First and third, no one out, and the score is already 4-0 with Pedro pitching, I admit I wasn't very optimistic. Mussina came in relief (first time in his career) and just shut them down for three innings. Redemption. Wells (Game 1 starter for the WS) gave up a home run in his 2/3 of an inning in the eighth, making it 5-2, but once it was 4-2 and Pedro was due to leave, I had hope. Pedro stuck around too long (like Mark Pryor), the Yanks tied it, and Mariano pitched three innings ... until Boone hit a home run off Wakefield. The Yanks finally got to him. A team effort and good preparation, since the Marlins won't be easy. At all.

Scott Turow was on Governor Ryan's (Illinois) commission to investigation the death penalty in that state and wrote a little book reflecting about the death penalty. It is a little over a hundred pages and is basically an extension of his magazine article on the subject. Well worth reading and can be finished in a few trips to the office. Al Franken, of course, wrote his own book on a political subject ... it is analyzed here. John Edwards, who I like but think is too young and inexperienced (more the latter) to win, is having problems. On the other hand, if Ashton Kutcher, Dennis Hopper, and Aaron Sorkin (former producer of West Wing) is on his side, he's doing fine, huh?

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Note: Out of Time is discussed below and the ending (though not expressly described) is discussed. Consider this a possible. spoiler alert.

The Cubs are one game closer to the World Series for the first time in nearly sixty years, but not quite there yet ... the Marlins finally had a truly excellent pitching performance, making the series 3-2, Cubs. The Jets, unlike the Giants, finally had a good game ... no, a very good game, beating the Bills 30-3. Every dog has his day, and Jets fans deserved a laugher after the drudgery that had to bear thus far. Meanwhile, Carolina beat the Colts (under ex-defensive coordinator of the Giants, John Fox) to regain unbeaten, coming from behind to do so as did the Kansas City Chiefs (KC has a reason to smile still). Dallas beat Philly to retain their surprising early division lead. Thus, three teams are unbeated, one team (bye week San Diego) has no win.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the few cases where the television show was better than the original movie; Legally Blonde was one of those times when the movie was better than the book. Amanda Brown's (formerly a blonde law student, but of Stanford, not Harvard) original was easy reading, but lacked some of the depth of the movie. For instance, the enjoyable supporting character (the manicurist) that might not have been her social equal, but was her emotional one, was only a trivial one in the book. Elle Woods also had it too easy in the book (perfect LSAT? in the movie she had to get a certain score, doing so barely, to enter) and the "diversity" concept (she was chosen as a sort of "blonde" representative) was lacking. Also, no love interest. Brown's second novel, Family Trust, was also easy reading (perfect for plane trips), but even more trivial. All the same, one can get rich on such fare.

The book did have a good bit about Elle's idea of a "Blonde Defense Fund" to protect the interests of blondes everywhere ... great idea for a comedy bit. She also defined the true blonde: "True blondes, whether natural or not, could be identified by their inner light of buoyant, charmed confidence." The airy tone, on target satire of law school life (done rather thinly all the same), and pleasant story saved the book from being dreck ... and bits like this shows the hints of intelligence there. All the same, material was rather thin. The movie had its trite touches (the trial lawyer of the book was not a sexual harasser like the one in the movie), but it had more meat to it, which overall made it light, but still left you content after consumption.

As to movies, a word about the end of Out of Time. It was too easy, but fairly typical of the genre. My general annoyance is that such endings allow things to be tied together in a bow without the messiness of real life. Real life messiness is not pleasant, so this is sometimes not a bad thing, but sometimes the ending forces us to give something up along the way so how easy is it? Just how pleasant is it to have our hero finish up as he did, but having to do what he had to do to get there? I leave the blanks in place given the recent vintage of the movie, but the viewer can decide.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Friday: While on the subway today, I had to deal with one of those annoying performers, this one a heavyset black guy who apparently was doing some sort of magic tricks along with his cheerful banter. Said banter was appreciated by a few people on the train, but it was annoying to me, trying to read and/or not be bothered by someone trying to make a living sponging off train passengers. I apologize if I sound bitter, but though I am loathe to forbid people from giving money to such individuals, it is not enjoyable to be kept as a captive audience. Furthermore, these performers spend more time annoying passengers than your typical beggar who is in and out in more of a hurry.

"Miss Match" was pushed ahead an hour (bad sign), so I had a chance to watch "Joan of Arcadia." I had to shut it off after around twenty minutes. The parents, especial the mom (Mary Steenburgen) did seem to have potential, but the children (including Joan, perhaps) were pretty standard ... the smart aleck little brother was annoying. The use of a psychic in the police subplot (father is the police chief) was annoying (I'm a cynic, I admit it). The use of cutesy "God" gimmicks (God comes in the form of various people) was annoying. And, yes, God having her do weird things (e.g. learning chess) was annoying. Heck, the mom not wanting to accept the son is paralyzed permanently was even annoying. Maybe, I was in a bad mood. On the other hand, maybe gimmicks, standard plot devices, and the like is just not my cup of tea.

I only saw part of one episode, so I can not get a true sense of the nature of the show. All the same, why cannot we have a show that has a focus on religion and God without gimmicks? "You Can Count On Me" dealt with religious themes. "Seventh Heaven" is preachy, but from what I have saw of it, it really isn't supernatural or anything (as compared to "I'm an angel sent from God" deus ex machina proceedings in "Touch by An Angel"). Real life does not involve God coming in the form of various people (with witty banter), telling you what to do (sure, if God came that way, you'd know it's God), and at times even explaining things to you. I understand that this is a dramatic exercise (partially a "Joan of Arc" takeoff), but we can also use an examination of religion (and even religious experience) more real life. It's an important part of our culture and deserves more than this sort of thing.

For now, I will stick with "Miss Match" or whatever else happens to be on at the time. Today the Cubs/Marlins game was on, another exciting affair that lasted eleven innings (Game 2 was a blowout, Cubs up 2-1). Yesterdays, the Yanks won (shock), tying the series 1-1. Next up Clemens v. Pedro at Fenway. I shall repeat myself ... Pedro doesn't quite impress me. He keeps on getting hurt, missing chunks of games, and being treated as a hurt sparrow some more ... leading to games where he goes only six or so innings. The games he does play, he is often match up with front end starters, thus it turns out to be a pitching duel ... this is often the case in playoff games. The net result is that the elite teams can often stalemate him and since he rarely goes much more than seven, it's up to his flawed pen. This results in Tim Wakefield being as dangerous in the long run to the Yanks.

Frontline had a good somewhat cynical special on the war in Iraq (I watched in today; it was on Thursday night) ... I should watch more of these things, especially since the series is said to have somewhat of a liberal bias. If so, given that I kinda do as well, it would be easier to take my documentary medicine, lol.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Thoughts: Quick/Easy Voting with A Muffin To Go; the recall: groping, Arnold Supporters, and postmortem: and Cubs get trash delivery.

The Yanks/Red Sox have played nineteen times already ... let's root for the Cubs/Marlins series. Game 1: The Cubs score four in the first, Marlins five in the third, each score twice in the ninth to go into extra innings 8-8, and Marlins win in extras. We all want excitement, right? Just look at the winner of the recall!

I spoke about it already (see above), but honestly, you choose him? Yet again, the people cry out: give us a leader, someone who can fix things, and doesn't give us the same old sh*t. And, they grasp toward the inferior new voice out there. And, yet again, we see where desperation takes us. I didn't want to believe an actor, one who turns out to be a boor, would upset someone just re-elected last year. Someone who has no political experience, seems to have came out of the blue, and isn't really as independent (or able to push for change) as much as he implies. The signs were there, the result really wasn't a surprise ... just a tad bit of a travesty. The sky will not fall, out with the old/in with the new will probably bring some fresh air, but it really isn't a great way to play a ball game. It just isn't.

Out of Time with Denzel Washington as a small town police chief who gets into a tad bit of trouble and races against the clock to get out of it was a good summer flick. It took a bit too long to get going, but the lead is great, the story fun, and the atmosphere (the "feel" of a movie is core to my enjoyment) well crafted. Deep down its standard stuff, but most movies are ... not as many do it this good.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Baseball: It's official ... Oakland blows. They are the new Atlanta squared of the AL West ... yet again they get to the playoffs and lose in the first round. And, yet again, they win the first two, but drop three (this happened less often, but even once it's rare ... but twice?) and are eliminated. They couldn't win Game Three because of their own incompetence. Game Four because the pitching matchup finally caught up with them (starter out after one). Game Five ... they were destined to lose. Pedro started and left after six ... 4-2, Sox, on a four run inning. The As got another run in the eighth. They got first and second with no one out in the ninth. Second and Third with one out. Couldn't do it. So sad.

Many are hyped for a Red Sox/Yanks matchup ... they played close to 20 games already. I personally am bored with these guys ... they will be some exciting games, pitching and hitting duels. Pedro will be matched by Yankee pitching and might very well have a stellar effort [seven innings or so and an average of three runs is not really stellar ... suggesting a key to the team's problems]. Each bullpen is questionable but has shown itself to be stellar in key spots (the Red Sox pen in latter games vs the As surely did so, when push came to shove). And so forth. The edge, as it usually is, is slightly on the Yankees' side. If they lose, it would be special -- Red Sox v. Cubs or Marlins -- but really nothing special. Just things going their way, as it sometimes does, though not at the end.

The Marlins/Cubs matchup seems more interesting. I actually think the Marlins might have an edge ... they have stellar pitching and a bit more offense. The Cubs bullpen is questionable; the Marlins bullpen has shown their stuff repeatedly vs. the Giants. The Cubs won the season series, but only four of six, and it is almost meaningless given the greatly changed situation (and belief in the Marlins mind ... actually, they won more games! They are the underdog only because they won the Wild Card, not a division). And, unlike the Red Sox, the Cubs never quite was in this position before.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Weekend: I caught a fun movie that rocked, literally, School of Rock with Jack Black. The movie had a fun trite touches, including a bit forced scene where he talks about how he really cares about his kids ... kids he tricked into serving as his backup in a Battle of the Bands competition by taking over for his roommate (played by the wonderful Mike White, who also co-wrote) in a temp teacher position at a snooty grade school. It was criminal as well that Sarah Silverman was wasted in a role as the bitchy girlfriend. Still, the movie took a standard plot idea, built it around a role made for Jack Black, and took advantage of the general fun of the genre done right. And, new how to appreciate rock while also making fun of it.

Sports was a mixed bag. The Yanks did what they had to by beating the Twins and moving on. The Cubs did what it didn't do for about a hundred years and won a playoff series (admittedly in the past, it didn't have an option to play three sets until its third attempt in 1998) via another great effort by Kerry Wood. The As, likely helped by a bad umpire call but much more so by their own bungling, lost their best shot at advancing. They lost their second shot (helped by Hudson, pitching on short rest, leaving after an inning) and have to face Pedro (on full rest) their third and final shot. The Marlins blew a four run lead (after Dontrielle Willis got a triple on his third hit ... he might have been a tad too pumped up), but survived. So, the Giants and Braves, way ahead by mid-Summer, are eliminated. Oh, and the Giants (football) played shoddy football to drop into last place.

Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine got a lot of criticism around a year ago (feels like that, maybe I'm a bit off) because she had some good things to say about child sexuality. Her main focus was more on children learning about sexuality, playing around with it in safe contexts, and how attempts to "protect" children from sexuality often are counterproductive. She wrote the book right before the Catholic Church scandals came out, but her basic themes still hold. Someone who influenced her (and vice versa) is Sharon Lamb, who about the same time wrote a book entitled The Secret Lives of Girls: What Good Girls Really Do -- Sex Play, Aggression, and Their Guilt. The two can be read together and are both worthwhile at least for perusing, be it for parents, educators, or the regular reader.

Lamb's book is split into two parts, sexual play and aggression. Her overall theme is that both are and have long been (her interviewees range in age from literally eight to eighty) part of the lives of girls, though many seem to feel that they are weird or even bad for taking part. Lamb is not as blase as intersexual sexual contact itself as Levine at times is, but same sex playing is seen by her as important as a way to play around with sexuality, learn about it, and even to provide pleasure. A few intersexual incidents are discussed, but same sex/more balanced in power players seem more attractive to her. Likewise, she wishes society to face up to the fact that girls too deal with aggression, not just boys, and sometimes it might even be good for them (especially in sports, useful also as a way for girls to "take up space" and for "good girls" to be proactive).

The sexuality of children, though addressed in some cultures, is seen by many as dangerous. The fact is that children are in some sense sexual beings, and there are safe ways for them to examine this part of themselves. The same applies to aggression; and when aggression is excessive, it should be seen in a balanced way. Would it be as bad (or even bad at all) if boys were involved? Likewise, yes, some sorts of sex play (especially actual sex) might be deemed troubling, but it should be put in perspective. This is a crosscultural work ... one difference, though in part it is a matter of class, is that black girls more often play sexually with other boys (and are more likely to be deemed bad girls by nature, though white girls are sexual as well). Pretty quick reading with short chapters throughout ... good way to get a feel of a controversial societal topic.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Thoughts: Joseph Wilson as Enemy, Post Season Politics, Why Jet Blue Exposing Customer Info Matters, Hidden Punishments, Perfect Spy (Wilson's wife), and Barely Managing (Bush as manager).

Sports: I only caught bits and pieces of many of the games, but so far the playoffs have had some good ones. The best might be a 12th inning affair between Oakland and Boston with a ninth inning rally, a top of the twelfth save, and a game winning bunt. Unfortunately, after losing Game 1, the Braves showed some of their old magic vs. the Cubs. Hampton survived a bases loaded, no one out, two in, first inning. And, the Braves survived a blown Smoltz save (in the eighth), and got two RBI with two outs (after the pitcher barely allowed Smoltz to lay down a sacrifice on a 3-2 count). The Marlins and Giants also split with each having a chance to shine. The Yanks was totally messy, wasted a good Mussina effort, and good defense stopped a ninth inning rally. They won Game Two though ... only the Red Sox didn't manage to tie things up 1-1.

TV: The second episode of "West Wing" was disappointing; it was like the latter half of an extended episode, which always tend to be an attempt to stretch limited material over an extended amount of time. Not much action, a few cliches, and suddenly the daughter is found. It did take a chance to make fun of itself (fast walking). The second episode of "Coupling" was better, though it again was basically a replay of the original, just with a more annoying soundtrack and less skillful actors. It does seem like they are fitting into their roles. I also caught the theme song -- same song, just not as good. Sounds familiar.