Treme, Season Two

Last year, Kish and I followed the HBO series Treme.  We started watching because it was created by the same people who made The Wire, one of the best TV shows ever.  That’s why we started to watch it, but I’m not sure exactly why we kept watching it.  The show didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and we really didn’t connect with any of the characters or their stories.  In fact, we found some of the characters to be insufferable and most of the others to be annoying.  When one of the characters — a know-it-all, churlish professor played by John Goodman — committed suicide in an act that seemed completely inconsistent with his persona, we threw up our hands.

This year we’ve started watching again . . . and I’m still not sure exactly why.  The characters are no more likable, or even understandable, than they ever were.  Even though everyone apparently is struggling in the ravaged, post-Katrina world, they all seem to have enough money to buy drinks at any given moment.  And boy, are there are lot of characters, and a lot of story lines!  We see little snippets of their lives, and then there is a performance by a New Orleans musical act that is somehow connected to the story arc, and then we see another brief yet deeply meaningful episode involving someone else.  It’s like TV for people with ADD who can’t stand to watch a scene that lasts longer than 30 seconds.  The only positive thing about this year, so far, is a new, hustler-type character who is in The Big Easy to try to strike it rich from all of the federal cash pouring in.  At last, someone whose motivations I can understand!

When I watch this show, I feel like I am just doing my duty for the people who created The Wire.  I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who actually likes this show and can explain why.

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Sunset at the Sahara

While surfing the internet today I saw that the Sahara Hotel and Casino is closing its doors for good at the end of business today and this is sad to see. I feel like a piece of Americana is being lost with its demise.

My buddy and I stayed at the Sahara three maybe four times over the years during our trips to Las Vegas because the rooms were the cheapest we could find (usually less than $30 per night) compared to the outrageous room prices most of the larger hotels offered. Part of the allure of the Sahara was the fact that there were no families with kids staying there, the casino offered table games for five dollars or less, plus they had a really good cheap buffet.

Our first trip to Vegas we flew in dropped our bags off at our room then went straight to the casino and gambled all night til eight in the morning. The craps table staff offered us helpful pointers and I learned the basics of playing craps there (in the beginning my buddy and I were betting the “field” bet which after reading a book on the fundamentals of craps I found out is the worst bet you can make). When we finished gambling they gave both of us a voucher for a strip steak and egg breakfast which made us feel like VIP’s not just your average Joes.

In 1952 the Sahara was the jewel of the strip, but like the Bob Dylan song says “and the first one now will later be last, for the times they are a changin”. Fond memories indeed.

Love — Or “Political Compatibility”?

A study recently was released that indicates that a compatible “political ideology” is one of the strongest scoring factors that people look for in deciding who will be their spouses.  The only factor that gets a stronger score, according to the study, is how often the individuals in question go to church.

I’m a bit skeptical of this study — and not just because my lovely wife of 29 years and I do not share the same political views.  The study notes that political compatibility is a more important factor than matching physical characteristics, such as body shape, height, and weight, or matching personality traits, like introversion or impulsiveness.  That may be true, but so what?  Do you know anyone who selected their mate because they shared similar looks?  I don’t.  In fact, I think those would be pretty darned weird selection criteria.  Why would I want marry someone who looked like me (God forbid!) or acted like me (even worse!)?  It may simply be that “political compatibility” scored better than criteria that scientists apparently made up for testing purposes but that no one uses in real life.

Kish and I aren’t exactly at opposite ends of the political spectrum, but we do have different views.  It’s not a problem, and I think one reason for that is that we just don’t consider politics to be that crucial.  It certainly isn’t as important as other qualities that you would want in your spouse.  Anybody who is limiting their range of potential partners because of political views is being very short-sighted — and also isn’t recognizing that political views can change over time.

Incidentally, the study also says that parents play a strong role in shaping their kids’ political views.  In that respect, too, the Webners are out of step.  Neither Richard nor Russell agrees with me on politics, either — yet somehow we all manage to get along.