Month: October 2010

House, M.D.: Season 1

House 1

House, MD DVD season 1

House M.D. is one of  my favorite shows on TV. (I do not actually have television service, I watch all things on DVD.) I own and have seen seasons 1-6, and as I usually do when there are no more TV shows available for me to watch, I just rewatch the stuff I already own. The first time I saw this season I watched the first two discs alone at home in the afternoon. I thought it was quite good.  I hadn’t known what to expect at all. Some medical show…. the main character is named House. That’s the sum of what I knew. I got hooked on the show, though.  I am just going to highlight two of the early episodes….

  • PILOT – 4 quotes

The pilot episode is pretty good, though not the best of the whole series.  It includes the first occurrence of the famous phrase of the series: “Everybody lies” — this comes at only 05:57 in the episode.  The patient’s name is Rebecca and she is ill because of a Tapeworm that she may have gotten from eating pork.  The diagnostics team figures this out because Dr. Chase saves the day by figuring out how to prove that Rebecca actually does have a tapeworm.  Dr. Allison Cameron?  Yeah, she doesn’t do a whole lot for the team in this episode.  However, House tells Cameron that he hired her because she’s good looking and “damaged.”

This is the episode where House tells Cuddy about the “philosopher” Jagger who says: “You can’t always get what you want.”   House also tells Dr. Cuddy (22:26):  “I don’t [think I’m always right], I just find it difficult to operate on the opposite assumption.”  Honestly, I think the actor should have said “from” not “on,” but its still amusing as heck.   One odd thing:  Dr. Wilson, House’s friend, spends time treating the patient, too.  So Rebecca actually has at least 5 doctors.  When the team cures Rebecca, her grade school class children give her a card that reads: “We’re happy you’re not dead, Miss Rebecca”  Overall, I give the pilot a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Occam’s Razor

The third episode of the season is one of my favorites. This one is a lot of fun because none of patient Brandon’s symptoms fit together. The episode starts off with Brandon and his girlfriend having sex.  He is taken to the hospital because of his cough, rash, and he passes out.  The girlfriend, at one point, mentions to Dr. Chase her fear that because she was “rough” with the sex act, that she might have caused Brandon’s illness.  House spends his time working on Brandon’s case and treating patients in the Clinic.  His efforts to spoil Dr. Cuddy’s orders for him to spend time in the clinic include his playing Gameboy Advance, and asking for consults from other doctors for basic diagnoses.  One of House’s clinic patients is a teenager who has an MP3 player up his anus.

The diagnosis that House maintains regarding Brandon, is that there are two different problems simultaneously causing Brandon’s illness – and House believes one of those is caused by a reaction/OD to another drug.

One of my favorite quotes is at 29:41 when House is talking to his team:  “The simplest explanation is almost always: someone screwed up.”    When it seems like House’s diagnosis might be wrong, he tells Wilson: “Reality is almost always wrong,” because House tenaciously believes he is correct.  As House’s diagnosis is proven correct, he tells Wilson:  “Make a note – I should never doubt myself.”  Wilson replies: “I think you’ll remember.”

Two other amusing quotes are when House sarcastically asks Cameron “Oh wait! Which way does time go?”  And when he scolds Wilson:  “No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate,” because this is the first insinuation and hint that there is any inkling of love/relationship between Dr. Cuddy and House.

I like this episode for several reasons:  how it brings up the issue of pharmacological treatments causing/interfering with other symptoms – and the potential there is for getting the incorrect medicine. I also like the balance of the comedic episodes in the Clinic with the seriousness of Brandon’s fate.  Finally, the writers are demonstrating how the other doctors in the hospital deal with (or don’t deal with) House’s antics. Of the first three episodes, this third one and the first are both necessary, canonical House episodes.

5 stars

Expedition to Earth

Expedition to Earth

Expedition to Earth cover

This book is a collection of eleven short stories written by Arthur C. Clarke.  The book was originally published in 1953.  The copy that I read (pictured in this entry) is the 1985 edition, its cover art was done by Stanislaw Fernandes.  The eleven stories are:

  • Second Dawn
  • “If I forget thee, oh earth…”
  • Breaking Strain
  • History Lesson
  • Superiority
  • Exile of the Eons
  • Hide and Seek
  • Expedition to Earth
  • Loophole
  • Inheritance
  • The Sentinel

Each and every story is interesting and worthwhile. This collection of stories is amazing.  I say that because, as a general rule, I dislike short stories. I usually avoid them at all costs and don’t bother to try to read them.  I think short stories have gotten a bad reputation because it seems they are have become the choice product of those who actually cannot write very well.  Needless to say, the fact that I truly enjoyed and highly recommend these stories is significant because they are so far from my normal reading preferences.

The titles are okay, but in my mind, as I read the story, I simplified the titles. So, “Second Dawn” became “The One with the one-legged people.”  And “Exile of the Eons” was “The One Where Hitler Wakes Up.”  Mind you, there is nothing but a vague resemblance to Hitler in that story, and the point is not about Hitler but about reasons for exile. Here is one of the main reasons that I loved these stories:   they were science-fiction, but also philosophical.  At each story, I was particularly impressed with Clarke’s ability to write a really engaging story, focused on science-fiction themes and settings, that was also interesting from a philosophical viewpoint.  Also, unlike many authors, Clarke doesn’t browbeat the reader. The “moral” of the story (if there is one) and the “conclusion” of the story are not heavy-handed and the reader is not forced to follow the author’s position/opinion.

The stories are all written smoothly, starting in media res, without a tedious amount of background or rambling justification. This was a pure joy to read. My favorite story is “History Lesson.”  My second favorite is “Hide and Seek.”

This should be mandatory reading for all those who read science-fiction.  It should also be mandatory to all college students. It would also be an excellent book for book clubs that like to have discussion-based meetings. For those who love a good book that makes one imagine and ponder – this is a definite.

5 stars

Dreamhouse

Dreamhouse

Dreamhouse cover

I read, last night and today, Dreamhouse by Alison Habens.  It was published in 1995. I started it a few years ago, but events occurred where I had to stop reading, and I consequently forgot about the book. I started the novel again, last night, from the beginning and finished it this afternoon.

I really like the first quarter of the book. I feel that it really exemplifies the sort of character (Celia) that so many girls (women?) in the world act like. Its easy at first to just mock them; these seemingly witless girls who fancy only some obnoxious Victorian era marriage.  Are their dreams so small and simplistic?  But yet, they expend so much time and effort on these dreams, its difficult to call them lazy. In fact, in this book, Celia seems to have honed in on her target since she was under 10 years old and she has planned every minute detail of the courtship, engagement, and wedding. All of this, of course, under the watchful eye of her overbearing mother. In fact, the frustrations and labor that Celia undertakes to ensure her dream comes true is remarkable.

The book describes Celia’s engagement party to Kenneth. Or, more accurately, it describes Celia’s preparations and feelings towards said engagement party. The exciting thing is that the evening that this party is set for, Celia’s absurd housemates are also having parties. Cat and Phoebe are having parties of their own. At first, these housemates (plus another named Dodge) seem downright abominably wretched. By the end of the book, I am not sure that they are any nicer, but they, at least, are more developed characters. (Also, I feel the house must be the size of a mansion…..)

Throughout the book, Celia plays the role of a pseudo-Alice in Wonderland. Frankly, I would have enjoyed the story more, I think, if when Celia falls in the kitchen the first time, that she is knocked unconscious. Then, perhaps, she could “dream/imagine” all of her exploits instead of wandering through them. But that seems “hack” too.

I feel the last quarter of the book was really way too forced and miserable. Habens has some good wordsmithing and storytelling going on, but the last quarter of the book just becomes forced, scattered, and none too interesting. The overall story is a bit ribald at times, with many innuendos and puns, but overall, it does its “job” of presenting views on feminism, freedom, and individualism. These are explored as Celia roams from party to party within the house as well as the interactions between Celia and her family. I’m not real big on these topics, to be honest, but I enjoy a good story regardless of the point of view of the author.

Overall, I feel the first half of the book is interesting and creative. The second half of the book seems to chase its own tail and the story gets bogged down with the message. There is no doubt that Habens is a good writer, but this isn’t going to be a classic anytime soon.

2 stars

52 #8

52 8

52 #8

I continued my DC Universe catch-up reading this afternoon starting with 52 issue #8.

The cover was done by J. G. Jones and is fairly representative of the storyline inside the issue. I don’t dislike the cover, but it certainly won’t go in my favorite covers list anytime soon. The cover reminds me vaguely of vintage industry posters. That’s John Henry holding the sledgehammer, with Lex Luthor on the left. The upper right is, I think, a portrayal of statues found in a Cult of Connor hideout in Star City.

I liked the tension – misunderstanding between John Henry and his niece, Natasha.  Natasha is a really cool character – given to the typical teenage impulsive behavior on one hand, but on the other she’s totally dedicated to her goal of being a hero.  There aren’t many teenage girls willing to spend long hours in the basement creating their own armor.  Its easy for the reader to see her frustration when she discovers a connection between her uncle and Lex Luthor’s new “metagene” program.

I also like the little “mystery” behind the new hero who is quietly rescuing people from danger.  Its amusing how its affecting Booster Gold. Also, I was tickled by the one incident where the new hero saves a child at the beach – the child’s mother is wearing a Wonder Woman costume swimsuit. This tickled me and I spent a moment considering what a beach would look like if it was “dress like a superhero” day or something. Of course the cameo of Clark Kent interviewing Booster Gold – and Skeets – is pretty fun, too.

Overall, I liked the issue because it moved the story along – which, really, is the point of the 52 volume.

3 stars