New Digs

We’re now officially landowners again.  On Friday afternoon we closed on our new house located smack dab in the middle of German Village, located near Lindey’s, G. Michael’s Bistro, and the Book Loft.

IMG_4641It’s an older brick home built, we think, in 1906, and there’s a fair amount of work to be done before we move in.  Kish is acting as a kind of general contractor, coordinating the appearance, estimates, and work of painters, hardwood flooring firms, electricians, landscapers, and cabinet companies who will be getting the house up to Code — in this case, Kish Code. Already, work has begun.  We met with the painter yesterday morning, and he and his assistant spent the day patching holes and putting on the priming coats.

In the meantime, Kish has been fielding helpful advice from a decorator and friends who have that feng shui flair, particularly on the big sticking point — light fixtures.  What should we hang in the foyer, and what in the dining room?  Should they match in some way?  How do we thread the needle of three desires:  wanting fixtures that are physically attractive, put out sufficient light to serve their real purpose, and are easy to clean and don’t require impossible physical manipulations when it’s time to change a bulb?  We’ve looked at so many light fixtures that all of the pop-up ads on any website we access immediately cycle to lighting products and special deals on chandeliers.

It’s an exciting time for us.


Mary Poppins And Dr. House

We recently inherited an umbrella stand, and an eclectic collection of umbrellas and canes, from Kish’s Mom.  We have frilly, polka-dotted umbrellas and sober black umbrellas, umbrellas with bone handles and umbrellas that could easily be hurled, javelin-like, at an approaching foe.  We have rattan canes, and riotously colored canes, and canes with sturdy black handles that are all business.

Whenever I look at this umbrella stand and its contents, I inevitably think about England’s most famous nanny and Princeton-Plainsboro’s irascible diagnostic genius —  two very mismatched fictional characters whose signature accoutrements nevertheless fit quite comfortably together.


Last House

Tonight Fox will air the last episode of House.  It will be a two-hour finale, and then the show will be relegated to The Happy Land of Perpetual TV Reruns.

Kish and I have watched House, faithfully, from the beginning of the first season until tonight’s end.  I don’t know how many TV shows I can say that about.  Cheers was one; I’m not sure there have been any others.  Not many long-running shows can hold my interest from beginning to end.  Often they become rote and predictable, or they take a turn for the worse, or I just lose interest.

One reason House is the rare exception is that the show has maintained a high quality level throughout its run while at the same time staying true to its core premise and themes.  Dr. Gregory House, that brilliant diagnostician who has a predictable “Eureka!” moment just about every episode, has remained a broken, deeply disturbed, drug-popping jerk who can’t maintain a normal human relationship.  The show’s creators haven’t married him off, or had him adopt a child, or required him to take some other out-of-character step to try to boost ratings or keep the show “fresh.”  I respect that, and I also respect that star Hugh Laurie and the creative brain trust of House have decided to call it quits while the show is still on top.  There is nothing more painful than a TV show — or a professional athlete — that stays on until it is well past its prime.

I’ll miss House, but I’ll look forward to seeing the awesomely talented Hugh Laurie in other roles that allow him to stretch his acting abilities.  Right now, I’m just hoping that the last show of this terrific series doesn’t fall prey to the disastrous finale syndrome that has caused other legendary shows to end with an embarrassing whimper rather than a well-deserved bang.

Touch, And Its Liberal/Conservative Messages

With House drawing to a close, Kish and I are casting about for another TV show to watch on a regular basis.  We’ve watched the first few episodes of the new Fox series Touch, and it’s intriguing enough that we’ll keep watching.

The show’s back story is complicated.  Kiefer Sutherland is Martin, a former reporter whose wife was killed on September 11.  Since then, he’s bounced from job to job and struggled to connect with his 11-year-old son Jake (David Mazouz).  Jake has never spoken and screams if he is touched by another human being, but his calm inner voice narrates the episodes.  It turns out that he is one of a handful of people who see the numerical patterns in the world that connect us all.  With the help of a rogue psychologist played by Danny Glover, Martin has figured out that Jake is trying to communicate with him through numbers and guide him to help make connections between people.  In the meantime, the state Department of Social Services, through a social worker played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, questions Martin’s ability to care for Jake and may take him away.  Throw in two giggly young Japanese women who wear ridiculous outfits and pop up from time to time and a cell phone that is being randomly passed from person to person, and you’ve got the general gist of the show.  (Whew!)

The show features an interesting interplay of messages.  The notion that we all are interconnected, and that a bottle cap placed under a school window in Africa might later affect a crowd at an international dance contest, has obvious touchy-feely, let’s all have a good hug New Age heightened consciousness overtones.

At the same time, however, there seems to be a definite conservative, anti-government message lurking underneath.  Jake is well-fed and lives in a safe, secure home; why is a busybody government agency pestering Martin and presuming to judge whether he is fit to care for his son?  And although the government agency blames Martin for incidents where Jake escapes his school and climbs to the top of towers, after the agency takes Jake for evaluation it incompetently lets him escape, too.  And the positive connections that are made are solely the result of the actions of Jake, Martin, and other individuals — not any government program or bureaucracy.

If you’re in the mood for some frivolity when the 9 p.m. Thursday showtime rolls around, play a drinking game where you take a swig of your adult beverage of choice every time Martin shouts “Jake!”  (Of course, Jake doesn’t answer — you’d think Martin would have learned that by now.)  But pace yourself — with Jake’s escape artist abilities and the ineptitude of the social workers, it happens dozens of times an episode.  If you don’t watch out, by the end of the show you’ll be seeing your own special patterns in the world around us.

House’s End

Hugh Laurie and David Shore, the main creative forces behind the TV drama House, have announced that the series will end this year — after eight years of putting the acerbic, misanthropic Dr. Gregory House into every imaginable situation and seeing him solve every imaginable diagnostic problem.

House has been one of my favorite shows since it began.  It’s still good, and it’s still one of the few shows that we automatically record on our DVR.  I’ll be sorry when it ends, but I also understand and appreciate the decision to bring the series to closure.  I hate watching favorite shows go inexorably downhill, sometimes to the point of embarrassment.  If the actors and writers and producers conclude that the creative string has been played out, as apparently is the case with House, I’m inclined to trust their judgment.

With the announcement of the series’ end, the question now becomes — how will it end?  There really haven’t been many great final episodes of TV shows, and often the final episode is awful.  I hope that the House crew resist the temptation to tie up all the loose ends, bring back House’s ex-wife Stacy, Cameron, and Cuddy for final bows, and have House cure Wilson of cancer.

Whatever else may happen, let House be House — in all his brilliant, miserable, appalling glory — to the inevitably bitter end.

House In The Big House

When we last caught a glimpse of Dr. Gregory House, he was in a bar by a sandy beach in the Caribbean, having just crashed his car through the front window of his ex-girlfriend and boss, Dr. Lisa Cuddy. Last night we saw him a year later, imprisoned, finishing his sentence for property damage, reckless endangerment, fleeing the scene, and probably countless other offenses.

The creators and writers of House have always played a bit fast and loose with the House timeline — as Dr. Greg himself observed the classic episode Three Stories in season one, “time is a fluid concept” — so the shift into the future isn’t a complete surprise. I think the creative team at House wants to take this familiar, by-now iconic character and give him some new challenges in an effort to avoid the creeping staleness that is fatal to so many long-running TV shows.

So, last night we got to see Dr. House implausibly locked up in a prison with violent offenders, doing his diagnostic thing on fellow prisoners and the intrigued, rule-breaking female doctor in the hospital infirmary. We learned that no one has called or visited him in a year — not even his best friend Wilson, or the sycophantic Chase! And now House will have to reintegrate himself into society, and reestablish his ties with his old friends and colleagues.

This scenario should create some interesting storylines.  Does ex-con House even have a medical license anymore?  Will Foreman lord it over House when he springs him from the slammer to help on cases?  Is Cuddy married?  How long will it take to repair the House-Wilson friendship?  (I’m betting part of one episode.)  Will Taub and Chase take House’s cruel comments?  Will House and 13 trade stories about their respective times in the pen? 

House has been on for years and has covered a lot of territory.  I like the show, I applaud the effort to keep it new, and I hope it works.

Fun House

I’ve very much enjoyed watching House this season.  Many of the overarching issues that have dominated the show since its inception — House’s addiction, Cameron’s naggy prissiness, Foreman’s insufferableness, and so forth — have been resolved, as least for now.  The decks have been cleared for some different approaches, and the show has taken advantage of that opportunity.

Hugh Laurie and Amber Tamblyn

The writers are venturing into new territory for all of the characters, and they are coming up with interesting story arcs.  How would House behave in a serious relationship?  What kind of mother would Cuddy have?  Wouldn’t Taub’s and Chase’s serial philandering eventually have consequences?  How would House deal with Cuddy’s child?  And although most of the characters are familiar, two significant new characters have been introduced to help keep things fresh.  Amber Tamblyn plays a brainiac medical student with Cameron-light preachiness, and Candice Bergen has burst onto the scene as Cuddy’s outspoken Mom.  Watching Hugh Laurie and the rest of the talented cast deal with all of these new plot threads and characters has been a joy.

I think this is the funniest season of House, ever.  The writers have mined the new situations for real comedic gold, while leaving House true to his ultra-logical, sarcastic aloofness.  Only House would reason that the best way to deal with the unpleasant dinner-time hectoring of Cuddy’s Mom would be to drug her — and Wilson, to boot.  Only House would try to help Cuddy’s little girl get into the best pre-school by applying dog training techniques to teach her how to ace the evaluative games.

Most TV shows that have been around for multiple seasons get stale and predictable.  So far this season, at least, House has avoided that fate.