I'm also test-solving crosswords for Ryan & Brian's Lollapuzzoola (coming up in Queens Saturday, August 23), and had to work out some technical issues. Thanks to Alex Boisvert who provided a program to convert Across Lite PUZ to TXT files.
Work has not stopped me from consuming pop culture.
I missed the Olympic opening ceremonies, but have caught volleyball, swimming, and men's gymnastics. I also watched more of the 2006 Winter Olympics on TiVo so I can clear that space. I haven't taped any current games, but might still do that though I hope I don't wait 2 years to see them.
I cleared some old TiVO and saw:
"Merv Griffin's Crosswords" - I'm still watching just the intros and continuing only if I know a contestant. So the only full episode I watched was Ron Sweet, whose victory was sweet (Patrick Jordan was also in there, but I already saw his episode). A few times, they not only didn't introduce the spoilers, but panned the camera over only the front row contestants.
"Cash Cab" - I really like this show, but may be prejudiced since I have friends on the staff. Even without that, I like watching familiar New York places go by. One pair lost everything for not knowing the golf term "mulligan." Another missed out on being the highest winners ever, after coming short on the red light challenge.
"Jeopardy" on GSN - caught a "power players" episode where Al Franken blitzed an SNL Presidential Players category.
"My Super Sweet 16" - bridezillas in training. Ohio teen Taylor won't let her sister get a cuter dress than hers, and wants (and GETS) a Mercedes. Atlanta rap princess Sky also wants a Mercedes but it doesn't come in hot pink so she's happy with a Mustang. Her huge hydraulic dress must be seen.
"Gossip Girl" - I wasn't sure who everyone is, but they were worrying about SATs.
Speaking of TV, I thought I had to decide whether to renew TV Guide last year but it turned out to be premature. I recently got the real renewal notice and thought I'd probably stop. But then I researched prices online and saw they were offering me a great deal, so I renewed by check and snail mail. Today I got an invoice for the balance. Apparently I misread the offer, and that great rate was the first of 4 installments. Oh well. I paid it off and will decide again in two years, if the mag is even still around.
Last night, Gristedes did not have my favorite juice, diet ice cream/yogurt flavors, Kozy Shack puddings, individual muffins, or a good selection of 4-pack muffins. So I tried Vita frozen deep chocolate muffin tops, package of 4, 100 calories each. I was shocked when the cashier rang up $6.49 (fresh huge muffins are $4.99 for 4), and even less happy when I tried them at home and they weren't that good. They're cheaper in bulk by mail, but I'm unwilling to spend that kind of money to learn I don't like the other flavors any better.
"The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks - I'm usually easily manipulated by schmaltz but this didn't grab me. The movie might be more effective.
"South Beach" by Brian Antoni - Gabe inherits a South Beach hotel full of quirky inhabitants, including a Cuban refugee male model discovered by a Versace-like fashion mogul. Much decadence ensues, but there's a sweetness to the characters.
I had a reservation tonight for "Tropic Thunder," Ben Stiller's film about a Vietnam war movie shoot that goes horribly wrong. One person passed and another didn't reply, so I went by myself. I was getting worried when the line moved in and people took out their passes (I was told there would be a list and hadn't printed my e-mail), but when I got to the front a guy did have my name on a list (though he expected me to have a guest. Sorry!). The 42nd St. Regal was huge with comfortable stadium seats.
I had seen the trailer and thought it looked OK, but had no expectations, as opposed to thinking "Hamlet 2" would be better than it was. Well, I was surprised how much I liked this movie. It was violent - explosions, shooting, maiming, gory body parts (some intentionally over the top) - but also often funny, with a great Vietnam-era score. Seeing the credits, I couldn't believe THAT was Tom Cruise. Robert Downey Jr.'s blackface and Stiller's Simple Jack have offended some people, but it's all parody, and pretty funny at that. Then again, I liked "Walk Hard."