My E-mail to Representative Roger Williams About the Government Shutdown

Friday, October 4, 2013

Representative Williams, The government shutdown is costing us $300 million per day, according to the IHS. It is time for the House of Representatives to stop the political grandstanding and vote for a clean funding bill to end the government shutdown. I happen to be a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. I have friends and family that have pre-existing conditions and can now purchase insurance just as you and I have been able to do in the past. I understand that you and most of your constituents disagree with me. However, it's time to stop fighting this law, which was passed by a democratically elected Congress, signed by a democratically elected President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. The House has now voted 41 times to repeal this law. How many more times will be enough? The 113th Congress is on track to be the least productive Congress in modern history based on measures passed, according to the Pew Research Center. You ran on a platform of ending political gridlock, but it appears that you are intent on continuing your party's obstructionist agenda. Twenty-one House Republicans have now said publicly that they would vote for a clean funding bill, which is enough to get one passed. As one of your constituents, I would appreciate it very much if you joined that number. Thank you for your time. Robert L. Bishop Burleson, TX

My 25 Favorite Episodes of The Office, Part 2: #10-1

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Office series finale airs tonight, and I'm celebrating by counting down my 25 favorite episodes from the show's run. #25-11 can be found here.

10. Traveling Salesmen

The Office was often at its best when it paired characters up that don't normally interact with each other, just to see what happens. Though a huge part of this episode's bright spot is the chemistry between Jim and Dwight, what really puts it over the top is the forced pairings of Karen and Phyllis, Ryan and Stanley, and Michael and Andy (still a new transfer trying to make his way up the office food chain). The pairs are forced to go on sales calls together, and the lengths the couples go to in order to close the deal are creative and funny. Phyllis illustrates to Karen why knowing one's client (and his family) is important, Ryan tries to take the lead with some of Stanley's established contacts, Andy screws up a sure thing for Michael, and Jim and Dwight dust off a well-worked phone routine that underlines the importance of DM's customer service abilities. The episode ends with Dwight resigning in order to protect Angela, but the move never felt like anything more than a footnote. It's an episode that proved that the writers of this show had chops - they even made selling paper interesting.


Dwight: "One of my life goals was to die right in my desk chair. And today, that dream shattered."

Andy: "Oompa loompa, doopadee dawesome, Dwight is now gone, which is totally awesome. Why was he gone, he was such a nice guy? No, he was not, he was a total douche. Doopadee doo."

Michael: "I want you to think about your future at this company. I want you to think about it long and hard."
Dwight: "That's what she said."
Michael: "Don't...don't you dare."

Dwight: "Here's my card. It's got my cell number, my pager number, my home number, and my other pager number. I never take vacations, I never get sick, and I don't celebrate any major holidays."

9. Niagara

The Jim and Pam wedding episode probably should have been a half-hour show, but it was an anticipated television EVENT, so it got the one hour treatment. The result was that we got a lot of extraneous material (Michael not reserving a hotel room, Andy injuring himself dancing) that would have been entirely forgettable otherwise. The meat of the episode carried it, however. Jim and Pam have always been the heart and soul of the show, and given the office's track record with other weddings, it was a foregone conclusion that someone (probably Michael) was going to ruin everything. As it turned out, it was Jim himself who caused the discomfort with his rehearsal speech gaffe ("To waiting!" was such a beautiful line reading), and it appeared that Pam was on the verge of melting down. The runaway bride sitcom staple didn't materialize, thankfully, and what happened at the end was exactly what the show needed in terms of giving those who watch for the office romance the beautiful wedding they needed while keeping everything light-hearted for everyone else. Anticipating that the bridal party was probably going to do the most Scranton thing ever and copy a popular internet video from months before, Jim books a trip to Niagara Falls so they can get secretly married (another sitcom staple, but genuinely earned here) while the guests fight over which of the wedding gifts they'll get to take home after the whole thing falls through. The payoff with the Chris Brown song is great because we know the pressure is off of the Halperts to have a storybook wedding, and we get to see some hilarious dancing at the same time.


Michael: "Meemaw, I think you just need to chill out."

Pam: "She the 80 year-old woman with no smile wrinkles."

Michael: "I have another [painting] of them in the nude, but that one's for me."

Pam: "Are you pushing me off the phone?"
Jim: "No, let's talk for a long time."

Jim: "Is there something about being a manager that makes you say stupid things?"
Michael: "I have not found that to be the case."

Jim: "I bought those boat tickets the day I saw that video."

Kevin: "My dogs are BARKING."

My 25 Favorite Episodes of "The Office," Part 1: #25-11

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Office will bring its 9 year run to an end tomorrow night. It's been a while since the show was particularly relevant, but in its heyday, it was absolutely one of the best comedies on the air. I've used the series finale as an excuse to go back and revisit some of my favorite episodes. Below are numbers 25 through 11. I will post my top ten tomorrow morning.

25. Prince Family Paper

Michael, as a favor to David Wallace, goes to do some reconnaissance work on one of Dunder Mifflin's tiny competitors a county over from the Scranton branch, and he brings Dwight along to help. The story is funny enough, as Michael and Dwight interacting with each other on the road is usually enough to fill an episode. They decide to divide and conquer, with Michael posing as a potential customer while Dwight applies for a job at the same time. Their not-so-subtle attempts to gather information are hardly noticed by the naive Prince family, and the patriarch ends up actually handing Michael a list of their top clients, then fixing his bumper in the parking lot after a botched getaway. What really makes the episode sing in my eyes is what goes on back at the office. The Dunder Mifflin-ites are always looking for ways to distract themselves, especially when the boss is out, and an argument about the attractiveness - no, hotness - of actress Hilary Swank turns into a full-on debate, complete with PowerPoint presentations and a hilariously impassioned speech from Stanley, of all people. In the end, the group remains split, Michael inadvertently breaks the tie, and Oscar gets philosophical. "That's the thing about debating. People just get entrenched in the views they already had."

24. Safety Training

Michael has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to the warehouse, so when the entire office is forced to undergo safety training downstairs because of a forklift incident involving Michael, he doesn't take kindly to the suggestion that the blue collar workers face inherently more dangerous conditions than the office workers on a daily basis. It was only natural, then, that after reading up on depression in the workplace, he would fake a suicide attempt in view of all the employees. What follows is a highly scripted exchange between he and Dwight from the rooftop - so good it had to be done twice. Michael's plan, of course, was poorly thought out, as it turned out he was planning on landing on a bouncehouse after jumping from the roof. ("I'm going to need you to acquire an inflatable house or castle." "Do you want a drawbridge?") He thinks about jumping anyway, but Darrell finally manages to answer the question "What do I have to live for?" to Michael's satisfaction. "Uh...a lot."

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