Lost Weekend

To paraphrase a line from the movie Friday, “It’s Friday and I ain’t got sh*t to do.”

For the first time in over a month, I am actually going to be in town this weekend. I’ve been traveling a lot lately (NYC, Rochester/Buffalo and New Jersey) and will be back on the road next weekend with a trip to Boston. But this weekend I have no place that I have to be. My poor car will appreciate the break; it’s in desperate need of an oil change.

Not only am I staying put, but for the first time in forever I don’t have any concrete plans. My calendar is almost 100% free; Sundays are my standing date with my local sports bar, but otherwise the weekend is full of possibility. I’m usually so overbooked and on the run that I find the idea of a weekend like this both enticing and terrifying. It will be nice to have some flexibility, but at the same time I don’t like to have a lot of down time. I like to keep busy.

My main goal for the weekend is to catch up on some pop culture that I haven’t had the time for. The one upside of the networks deciding not to air a lot of new episodes this week in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was that I am actually pretty up to speed with my television schedule. But this weekend will be time to take in some of the other things that I haven’t been able to do. Got to feed the blog machine. Tentatively on the agenda:

  • Finish The Twelve, Justin Cronin’s second book in the trilogy that he started with The Passage. I’m only about 1/5 of the way through it as of now, but I’m a pretty quick reader.
  • Get up to speed with The Walking Dead comics. I’m about 6 issues behind, though I may need to re-read a few to remind myself where I am in the story.
  • Go to the movies. Free screenings have been few and far between lately (though I have one Wednesday that I am super excited for) and other than going to see Night of the Living Dead on Halloween, it’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies (and by a while, I mean my version of a while. Most people don’t go to the movies as much as I do). There are a lot of films out that I want to see and some of them will probably be leaving the theater soon, so I hope to see at least two movies this weekend. Priority goes to Argo, which I have really been dying to see. So hopefully look for a lot of movie reviews next week.
  • Get through my pile of magazines. Somewhere along the line I just started throwing magazines in a pile to read at a later date that never seemed to come. I get a lot of magazines – a lot of them were deals I saw online or that I bought from the children of friends for school fundraisers – so it is very easy to fall behind. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in there is the summer movie preview issue of Entertainment Weekly.
  • Continue my progress on Homeland, season 1. I have been looking forward to watching this show based on all the praise and positive buzz that I’ve heard about it, but somehow have never had the chance to actually sit down and start from the beginning. Last night, with NBC pulling all their comedies, I decided to take the plunge and start watching. I wound up knocking off three episodes last night. My goal is to be done with season one by Monday, which leaves 9 episodes to go.
  • Tonight is the NBC telethon to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. It will air 8pm-9pm live on the east coast and on delay elsewhere. It will also be streaming on NBC.com. They have an all-star line-up: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting, Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Fallon. Proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross.

I have absolutely no idea if it is even physically possible to get all of this done, but I am going to try my best. At least I get an extra hour with the end of Daylight Savings Time this weekend to work with. I’m guessing I get through about half this list, which is still some progress. Throw into the mix that I really need to do some housework around the apartment and that I want to get some cooking done and my free weekend is suddenly looking not so free. And this entire plan hinges on people not calling me to go for drinks or grab brunch, which hopefully will happen. So there is the distinct possibility that Monday will roll around and I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. And I’m OK with that

What are your plans for the weekend or what do you look forward to doing with a free weekend? Sound off in the comments below.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee webseries

If you know me well at all, you’re probably aware of my obsession with all things Jerry Seinfeld. It’s not something that I hide very well. I’m fascinated with everything that the guy does. Seinfeld is one of my all-time favorite television shows; spend more than twenty minutes with me and I’ll probably drop some Seinfeld reference into the conversation, though some of them are pretty obscure.

When I was a freshman in college, we didn’t have cable in our dorm rooms and DVDs and the internet were not a part of everyday life yet (wow – that sentence made me feel OLD). So I couldn’t count on seeing episodes of Seinfeld regularly – if another group claimed the TV in the common room, I was out of luck. To get me through these dark times, my family would record Seinfeld episodes on the VCR and then send the tapes to me. Primary responsibility for this fell to my little brother, who was thoughtful enough to manually record the episodes so he could take the commercials out.  I think it was his way of thanking me for moving out of the house – he was finally an only child for all intents and purposes.

These tapes were on constant rotation in my dorm room and made me very popular with the guys in the building, which was an unforeseen benefit.  But if you walked into 426 Alumni Hall at any point in 1994-1995, you were bound to see an episode of Seinfeld on our TV. Thankfully, my roommate Jenn was cool with this and she probably knows more about Seinfeld from osmosis than she ever wanted to. Once we finally got cable in the dorms and at the sorority house, I continued the practice of taping the episodes so I could re-watch them multiple times. The tapes were played so often that they were starting to wear out. It is absolutely no exaggeration to say I have seen many of these episodes 100s of times. I consider it no coincidence that Seinfeld ended its run only a few short weeks before I put on my cap and gown. The show was an integral part of my college experience. Even though I have all the seasons of the show on DVD now, I only recently threw out the tapes. I had a sentimental attachment to them.

My affection was not limited to Seinfeld the show – one of my pop culture goals was to see Jerry do his standup and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that twice. The first time I think I would have been happy if he just stood there silently for an hour. I was just thrilled to be in the same room as him. Fortunately, his stand-up lived up to my anticipation and I really enjoyed both shows. There was surprisingly little overlap of material in the shows I saw; Seinfeld is not a comedian that relies on a set routine and he develops all new material for every tour (as does his friend Louis C.K.).  One of the things I respect about Seinfeld is his work ethic and the obvious joy he gets from doing standup. He clearly doesn’t need the money, but does it because this is what he loves to do. I don’t think that there is an off-switch for him – he’s just naturally very funny. It is a testament to how bad The Marriage Ref was that even I, one of Jerry’s biggest fans, couldn’t sit through the show. Too much Tom Papa, not enough Seinfeld.

So it was all but a given that I was going to be a fan of Seinfeld’s newest venture, an aptly titled webseries, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, where he goes out to coffee with his comedian friends and has free form conversations. Only one episode has been posted, but I’m already all in.

The premise is really as simple as stated. His first guest is Larry David, which was a smart idea as Jerry and Larry have been friends for a very long time and have fantastic chemistry together. They balance each other out well and they make each other laugh; it’s no surprise that Seinfeld was as successful as it was with the two of them at the helm.  They clearly delight in each other’s company. Hopefully Jerry will have the same rapport with his upcoming guests; I think the key to this webseries is familiarity with the participants. An awkward conversation between strangers wouldn’t be as much fun.

Larry and Jerry have exactly the kind of conversation you would expect them to have – essentially about nothing and with funny observations about aspects of life. It was like the perfect mash-up of the great qualities of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry is just as neurotic as the character he plays on Curb, discussing how he believes that his decision to switch from drinking coffee to tea contributed to the deterioration of his marriage. They have a really funny and surprisingly insightful discussion of the difference between smoking cigarettes and cigars. It’s also the first time that I’ve seen a legitimate unscripted spit take happen. They just crack each other up. It was two masters, doing what they do best and I loved every minute of it. I’m convinced this is how they got Seinfeld greenlit at NBC – they just had executives watch them interact with each other. You can’t help but walk away from it thinking that this is a great premise for a show.

I’m by no means a car person – when people ask me to describe someone’s car, I give them a color rather than a make and model – but the car that Jerry is driving in this episode (1952 VW Beetle) was pretty cool. It was in gorgeous condition and I was particularly impressed with the Semaphore turn signals. I would totally drive a car with those. It was a nice touch, since Seinfeld is very much a car guy. He used to rent out an air hangar in California for his Porsche collection.

I’m very much looking forward to the next episodes. Based on the trailer for the series, future guests include Ricky Gervais, Alec Baldwin and Michael Richards. I’m hoping that Chris Rock and Louis C.K. also are eventually included, as Jerry is very good friends with them as well.

If Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee maintains the same level of comedy as the first episode, this should be a very popular webseries, though I imagine your feelings about his guests will dictate how much you enjoy individual episodes. If you think Ricky Gervais is annoying, you probably won’t enjoy their conversation as much as others. The webseries is very personality driven. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee has solidified one truth that I hold to be self-evident: Jerry Seinfeld and I would get along famously. If he ever does a series called Unknown Bloggers in Cars Getting Coffee, sign me up!

Episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee can be found on the series website and on Crackle.com. New episodes will be posted every other Thursday.