Tag Archives: Obsession of the Week

Obsession of the Week: “SouthLAnd” on TNT

I’ve run through just about every new cop show this season (“Blue Bloods”, “Detroit 187” and “Law & Honor: Los Angeles”) and found every one of them hard to sit through for an entire episode. A couple of years ago, “SouthLAnd” premiered on NBC as a replacement for the outgoing “E/R”. The show drew plenty of critical acclaim but was only a modest ratings hit so NBC cancelled the series. The series quickly moved over to TNT where you can catch up on all episodes (http://www.tnt.tv/series/southland) before its third season premiere in January.

If you haven’t seen this groundbreaking series, I implore you to watch just one episode. You will be blown away! The show’s gritty reality and high-tension drama make it what “Entertainment Weekly” said was one of “The Best Show You’re Not Watching.” It’s certainly under-appreciated at a time when so many crap cop shows are taking up space on the major networks. How this show doesn’t get Emmy nominations is simply a matter of no one watching it.

If you’ve tried (and even liked) some of the new cop shows this season, you really should give “SouthLAnd” a try. It truly leaves the others in the dust. Its stories and characters stay with you long after you’ve watched it. It is not just the current best cop show – it’s one of the best ever. Check it out! http://www.tnt.tv/series/southland/

Obsession of the Week: “Chopped” on Food Network

My wife and I have been loyal watchers (Thanks to DVR) of Food Network’s reality show “Chopped” for over a year now. The show pits four real world chefs in three rounds of competition (appetizers, entrée, dessert) where they have to create a dish using particular ingredients during a timed round of competition. The challenge is intensified by the mystery basket of ingredients that must be used (one mystery basket for an appetizer contained watermelon, canned sardines, pepper jack cheese, and zucchini.)

The four contestant chefs are generally varied in style and technique but often include at least one overly confident chef, a young upstart and at least one chef with a touching human interest story. At each round, the chefs’ dishes are judged by a panel of three executive chefs who are Food Network semi-regulars (including Geoffrey Zakarian, Aaron Sanchez, and my personal favorite, Alex Guarnaschelli).

Just this week, the show had it’s first ever “Chopped Champion” finale. It was one of the best episodes yet because the completion was fiercely tense and the end was emotional one with the winner taking home fifty-thousand dollars. If you haven’t discovered this gem of a show, you can catch one of the countless episodes rerun on Food Network almost daily. If you love to cook or are missing some sort of sports competition during the week – this is the show for you.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use the term obsession because we’re all obsessive and fanatical about things we like so much that we saturate ourselves in it until we make ourselves sick of it and then move on to something else.

Obsession of the Week: The Jesus Christ Show

The Jesus Christ Show has not just been an obsession for the week but for the last couple of years. The show’s website describes it as “interactive radio theatre.” The premise is that the “Holy Host” of the show is “Jesus Christ” himself where callers can call in and ask him specific topical questions pertaining to theology or life situation issues.

I found the show a couple of years ago and was intrigued by the show’s clever premise where listeners call in and greet the host with “Hello Jesus Christ, thank you for saving me from my sins. I have a question…” I laughed out loud the first time I heard callers but soon found that the host spoke to listeners from a strictly scriptural perspective and was well-versed in what he was talking about.

The executive producer and host, Neil Saavedra, calls himself a “self taught lay apologist” who has studied Catholic apologetics, Protestant apologetics, theology, cults, and the trinity among other specific topics through various schools. What is most admirable is that Saavedra’s religious perspective is non-confrontational, non-denominational and  strictly scripturally based.

I had the privilege to talk to Neil on the phone a year or so ago when I was doing research for a novel. I had e-mailed him my questions and he responded with a number to call him at so we could talk in depth (not on the radio by the way). We talked for about an hour that day and he gave me some great insight about what I was working on.

Since that time, I have used quite a bit of what I have learned from him, and the show, in my articles. I even based two articles about gay marriage on his response to a caller on his show (Link to the article). It was also Neil who first introduced me to the “Unity in Essentials, Liberty in Non-Essentials, Charity in all things” quotation that has become a driving principle in my writing and religious philosophy.

I’d encourage everyone to check the show out. It’s both enlightening and entertaining and not anywhere near as blasphemous as you’d think. Neil equates the show to a history teacher putting on a customer and acting like Ben Franklin to make a point to students about Franklin’s life. The show can be heard on KFI AM 640 here in Southern California from 6 am to 9 am on Sundays or (more conveniently) on the station’s website archives.

Obsession of the Week: The Music of Sara Bareilles

Here’s the thing – this week’s selection isn’t necessarily the most “manly” selection I could come up with but the truth is that I can’t seem to get Sara Bareilles’s haunting sound out of my head. The truth is that I’ve been obsessing over her music for the past couple of weeks now so I think it begs acknowledgment.

Sure you may know Sara Bareilles from the peppy and sickening sappy “Love Song” from it’s heyday in the summer of 2008 (I still can’t stand that song) but do you know any of her more acoustic work? I heard her cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” on an itune radio station and immediately had to check her out. When she’s not doing something upbeat and kitschy, her voice is crisp, pure and haunting. It’s the type of music once made popular on the Album Alternative stations (101.9 in LA) that were moderately popular in the 90s and now long gone. I guess I still have a serious thing for the chill’n at the coffee house sound that just doesn’t seem to be popular anymore.

Check out “Gravity,” “Between the Lines,” “In Your Eyes,” and her great jazzy cover of Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” (she has a ton of cover songs on youtube.com that are worth checking out).  These songs best representation her smoldering coffee house sound. As a writer, I think her lyrics are smart and effective because they work on multiple levels. The way she sings both “Gravity” and “In Your Eyes” give the songs a lingering spiritual quality. The lyric “Leave unsaid unspoken” from her song “Between the Lines” sounds like a great title of a literary novel.

I’ve found her music great for writing when I need something melodically simple in my ears asI search for the words to type. I’d encourage you to check her out. Let me know what you think. Again, she’s not the most masculine selection but her music has been addictive and so she is this week’s obsession.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use  obsession because aren’t we’re all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it so much that we make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

Obsession of the Week: My Six-Year-Old’s I-Pod

Originally Posted 8/25/10

When Kai was younger his musical taste was easy to understand. He spent most of his time with his mom and she listens to easy listening (adult contemporary music). So when we bought his first i-pod (which was only a $20 MP3 player) the music “Santa” included was songs we knew he liked because he told us so. His list was made up of songs you could find on either KOST or KBIG here in southern California. He liked Beyonce, John Mayer, Journey and Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl” to which there is nothing like hearing a 4-year-old sing in the shower.

Soon enough, I felt his musical tastes were too influenced by his mother so I arranged to add songs and bands I liked to the mix. I was excited because he seemed to really like what I had to offer him in music. Okay, maybe the old lady at the grocery store doesn’t want to hear a 5-year-old answer he’s singing about Barenaked Ladies when she asks what he’s singing. With that I didn’t really think the world needed a mini-me clone walking around. Instead I wanted Kai to develop musical taste of his own. After all, here is this kid that is teaching himself songs on the piano without either of his parents showing him how to play it.

So we upgraded his cheap MP3 player (which you get what you pay for) to an i-pod shuffle. On it I wanted to introduce him to as big a variety of music as possible. After all, it wasn’t likely he really cared for the easy listening tunes his mom liked and frankly my taste in music isn’t really anything “Rolling Stone” magazine is interested in writing about.

I decided to download a unique enough collection of songs for him to listen to and discover on his own. In all truthfulness, I did include all the songs he said he still liked from his old MP3, I also included a leaning toward more classical music since that is what he was teaching himself to play on the piano (thanks to years of indoctrination by Baby Einstein I am sure). Beyond that, I offered him a sample of both old and new music. 120 songs all told (listen kids will watch the same damn movie thirty times in a row – 120 songs is more than enough to start him with).

I balanced the selections as to not include too many by the same artists – most were only a single song per artist or band. I loaded it with songs by Louis Armstrong and Alison Krauss, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, Chris Brown & Coldplay, Dean Martin and Def Leopard, Fleetwood Mac and the Fray, Michael Jackson and the Mamas & Papas, Nirvana and Notorious B.I.G, and Pavarotti and Pearl Jam. 120 songs mostly be different artists. I watched and waited to find out what songs or style he was interested in most.

After less than a week of him listening, favorites emerged right away. First it was Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. Then the Boss’s “Born in the U.S.A.” and today “Photograph” by Def Leopard emerged as his favorite song. It’s fun to watch him play in the backyard singing a cappella as loud as he can to the songs he’s listening to over and over again. It certainly makes me appreciate the fact that I thought long and hard about the lyrics of the songs I selected (like selecting “Jump” by Van Halen instead of “Hot for Teacher”).

I’ve found this “experiment” extremely interesting this week. Here is this kid who’s developing his own taste in music. Sure it’s influenced by his mom and me but that influence won’t remain 100% true as he continues on his musical journey through life. Certainly the songs he is listening to are familiar if not favorites of mine. I can’t think of “Photograph” without thinking about sixth grade summer camp or just summer in general. It’s a great song and I’m excited he likes. What’s really most interesting is being able to share new things like music with your kids. Music is so much a personal experience for each of us. Yet at the same time our own personal taste in music was first influenced by our own parents. I can’t hear certain Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton John or Beach Boys songs without thinking of one of my parents and that time in my life when they first introduced me to their music.