Category Archives: entertainment

QI: Semantics

"QI" Logo My new favorite entertainment item/obsession is the British comedy quiz show “QI” (short for “Quite Interesting”). I won’t get into a detailed explanation of the format and rules, but briefly: host Stephen Fry asks his panel of four “contestants” questions on a variety of topics. Since the questions are usually very obscure, almost no one is expected to actually know the answers. Instead, the show and its appeal are more about the resulting, “quite interesting” and usually funny, often hilarious commentary and banter among the participants– especially since the guests are, by and large, comedians. And finally, I refer to the guests as “contestants” because, although points are awarded and deducted, the point system is, for the most part, seemingly arbitrary and irrelevant, much like that of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?“, another one of my favorite shows. For more complete and detailed info on the show, just check out the Wikipedia article.

Short "QI" Questions Animated GIF The show is a rather good example of the value in focusing on or enjoying the journey, not the destination. Interesting facts plus comedy– the perfect combination for me!* The show is a lot like many of my conversations except that, instead of among my friends and me, it’s among professional comedians, actors, etc. (and almost everything is in some kind of British accent). And luckily, even though (and because) I’m coming extremely late to the game, there are many years worth of series/episodes for me to watch and enjoy since the show has been running since 2003**. Of course, this is only thanks to YouTube since “QI” doesn’t air in the States– though there is a petition to get BBC America to broadcast the show to US viewers. If you’re a fan of the show, I encourage you to sign it– this tactic has already succeeded at least once when fans submitted a petition to get the first series released on DVD.

In any case, to the primary point of this post: Semantics and specifically a clip from Series A, Episode 4. Here’s a great example of one of the show’s many spontaneous, witty and amusing moments– in this case, a delightful bit of wordplay between host Stephen Fry and comedian Jeremy Hardy (jump to the 6:55 mark in the video):

STEPHEN
… I refute that with every fiber of my being. The actual answer is–

JEREMY
(interrupting)
No, you can’t refute it– that’s bad grammar, that, Stephen. To refute, you have to provide evidence. You mean “rebut”.

STEPHEN
No, I mean “repudiate”.

JEREMY
Fair enough.

STEPHEN
(during applause/laugh break)
Very good point.

JEREMY
If you weren’t showing off, you could have said “reject”.

STEPHEN
Yes, indeed. You’re absolutely right. Though it’s not bad grammar, is it? It’s just bad semantics.

JEREMY
Yeah, whatever.


And since we’re on the topic of language, here’s a hilarious clip on spelling (spoiler alert: “i before e except after c” is wrong):



* I particularly avoided using the term “trivia” here. While the questions/answers on QI may not be terribly useful for most people in their everyday lives, these facts are certainly not useless, unimportant, or inconsequential– i.e., “trivial”. Let’s just say they’re the finer details.
** It’s actually a (ambitious!) 26-year long project with each series covering topics that begin with a different letter of the alphabet.


Video: Womyn (Kids in the Hall)

Despite my recent run-in with the YouTube copyright police, I decided to post this Kids in the Hall sketch, entitled “Womyn”. I wasn’t worried about the copyright issue (although I did get a different kind of copyright message) since the most popular video on my YouTube channel is “God is Dead”, another KITH sketch, that I posted back in 2005. Instead of filing DMCA complaints against fans, KITH has thanked fans for uploading their favorite clips in the past, I myself receiving a thank you message.

So, here it is– KITH genius all the way back from season 1 (1989-1990), episode 2, “Womyn”:


“How does this not have a jillion views?”

That’s the first and only comment posted when I uploaded this video to YouTube (thanks, ImportOwner!) before it was taken down because of a copyright infringement complaint. I don’t know what their complaint criteria are because a quick YouTube search shows plenty of other Archer clips posted by fans (doesn’t count as snitching), but I should probably lay off a bit as this is my second strike. (I know, how ironic that I’m caught up in a three-strikes copyright policy situation…)

But of course, my intent (as usual) is not to infringe on copyright, but to show how amazing Archer is and actually get more people to watch, so I’m still going to try to share this clip with the world. (Hey, I would embed their video and drive traffic to FX directly to promote the show, but their video clip collection is a bit sparse.)

Anyway, so here is it: from “The Limited” (season 3, episode 3), a great clip with Archer & Babou (the ocelot) that perfectly captures a key part of how awesome the show is. I’m obligated to give you a SPOILER ALERT warning since the clip is from the end of the episode, but watching it really won’t ruin anything for you since almost every Archer episode ends with some crazy chaos. Enjoy!

[jwplayer mediaid=”6328″]

Intentional Americans

U.S. Flag There are many wonderful things I could say about the HBO documentary “Citizen USA: A 50-State Road Trip“, but here is a quote from newly naturalized citizen and intentional American Zeenath Larsen that captures not just one of the primary reasons people to come to the US (legally and illegally), but a valuable message for US-born American citizens (especially those who think immigrants come to the US just to steal jobs, collect welfare, and commit crimes), the politicians who are looking to influence, lead, and win over the support of the people, and any American who has ever taken America for granted (me included):

“The bottom line is that your country and you have to be on the same page where values are considered, principles are considered, what you believe in. And if that is not the case, then it’s… you may be born somewhere and brought up somewhere, but then you don’t feel that same type of loyalty. Because loyalty comes through ideas, not through the earth, not through mud and trees and hills. That’s the same everywhere in the world. Is there any country in the world that has it enshrined in the constitution that you have a right to be happy?”

And to underline the point even more, note that Larsen is originally from Pakistan. Food for thought– check out the trailer for “Citizen USA” below:

The Daily Show on DC, NPR, Juan Williams

Excellent (as usual) Daily Show segment on the NPR/Juan Williams firing. I already tweeted the hilarious part on DC’s city design/architecture (do you know how to navigate a roundabout?), especially re: all of the columns on the buildings– “… simultaneously magnificent and useless… like they designed the whole thing as a metaphor.” But the best part is discussion between Team Black and Team Muslim, having fun by playing on the irrational fear of Blacks and Muslims, culminating with Aasif Mandvi’s response to the accusation that their behavior only feeds into things:

“If they’re not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?”

Trick Play

I don’t know why I thought of this recently, but back in the late 80s, my family got a second TV– a small thing, maybe 15″ at the most. It was around 1988; I distinctly remember watching coverage of the Bush-Dukakis presidential race on this TV that lived in my parents’ room. The TV came with a remote, something novel for us since our living room (and recently only) TV was still a big thing encased in wood and with a manual dial for changing channels, a task with which the youngest child (me) was usually privileged. The new TV’s remote had a button labeled “RECALL.” I thought this was such a smart and amazing feature: the ability to “recall” what you had just watched. Clearly, this button would replay the last few minutes of whatever was on TV in case, for example, you hadn’t been paying attention, had to step put of the room for a moment or just wanted to re-watch whatever amazing programming you had just seen.

This feature is now part of what TiVo calls “trick play”– the ability to pause live TV and play back up to the last 30 minutes of recently viewed TV. And of course, this feature was not actually this feature in 1988; the recall button was actually a “last channel” button, automatically changing the channel to the previous or last channel viewed. Never having had a remote, much less a TV that was capable of remembering what the previous channel was, I thought this amazing new TV– small, but with the channel displayed on the screen in neon green digital numbers and shiny silver buttons that silently changed the channel up and down (instead of a plastic knob and dial that clicked as you turned it)– was surely capable of “recalling” the last few minutes of precious TV.

But no, it would be at least a decade before somebody out there thought of this idea, along with a long list of other great ones, and came out with the first public trials of TiVo, debuting in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998, around the same time I first came out to the Bay Area myself (and have yet to go back). Busy, busy, busy.

New Moon Volturi Fight

I have watched this clip about a thousand times, every time they show a clip of the movie on a talk show, etc. I finally slowed it down on the TiVo (if only YouTube had slo-mo!): watch the completely unnecessary flip starting at 0:25. Edward flips Bella over, only to have her land facing the same direction, and then turns her around, this time out of the way. I love Twilight, but this is a little ridiculous.

And, by the way, do you know how hard it is to fix marble? That you would have to basically replace everything damaged here? Even if I was immortal and unbelievably wealthy– thus, having both the time and money to do it– I would be supremely peeved at the damage done to the steps of the dais, never mind how stupid the dais and thrones are. (That part of the fight isn’t in the clip, but you can see part of it at 1:50 in this featurette. I know, I have too much time on my hands right now. At least I tell you how to cut to the chase with the video.)

The Bay Fish & Chips

I finally tried The Bay Fish & Chips last week and it has that greasy spoon with great food feeling. Aside from pleasantly big, deep-fried pieces of fish, they also offer shrimp, calamari, scallops, etc. And aside from classic chips, they also have deep-fried mushrooms, zucchini, artichoke, onion rings, etc.

What’s twisted, though? The fish tank with two giant goldfish swimming around, sitting right there, up on the counter, with a good view to where they cook the fish.

Robert is Bothered

I love Twilight (really, almost to an unhealthy degree…) and think Robert Pattinson is great– loved him first as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. More recently, check him out in Little Ashes and How to Be to appreciate him fully as an actor, not just ridiculously good-looking, brooding, “good” vampire Edward Cullen.

Having said that, I love Jimmy Fallon too and these spots he does are hilarious. Here’s the one on Snickers Ads:

Check out more at Robert is Bothered.