April 9 
The coolest thing I’ve seen all day? Last night’s episode of Lost. And boy, what an episode it was:
As Lost winds down its penultimate season, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we will get all the Big Answers to the Big Questions, even if we don’t necessarily want them. For me, Lost has always been an extremely fun, character-driven drama with an obscene attention to continuity and a flare for outlandish mythology.
A large part of the fun is finding the hidden clues buried in still frames and reading through the crazy but always slightly plausible theories fans cook up. If everything wraps up neatly and no room for the interpretation, I’m going to be sorely disappointed, and fear it may end up like so many epics shrouded in mystery that end up revealing too much of their hand (see: The Matrix, 2001, and The Dark Tower).
If the island ends up being a crashed Egyptian spaceship, I’m so not buying the Blu-Ray box set.
LOST 05.12: “Dead Is Dead” (Info Deficient OP Edition) [NeoGAF]
February 18 
Watching Lost every week during its live airing isnâ€™t the most ideal way to experience the series. Itâ€™s a show made for DVD, after all. Still, like the 16 million or so other junkies who subject themselves to seven-day withdrawals between episodes rather than wait out the year between series sets and the uninterrupted binges they bring, I thank ABC for dolling each forty-four minute dose of sweet relief. And while the real world gap allows us to pour over screen grabs and decipher text and images not-so-subtly hidden in each frame, Lost is a show that demands to be watched from start to finish with as little downtime between episodes as possible. The constant complaints about its â€œslowâ€ pacing are proof enough of that.
Us hopeless addicts, then, should be thankful for Previously On Lost, a MySpace band that recaps last weeksâ€™ episode in song. These tunes go beyond just summarizing the events of last weekâ€™s episode, however, and include clever in-jokes that assume youâ€™re intimately familiar with the series and its mythology. Lostâ€™s own â€œPreviously Onâ€¦â€ segments before each episode are never quite enough to accurately prepare the inattentive viewer for the inevitable references to years-old subplots and allusions to complex scientific theory. The songs work both as a reminder of whatâ€™s come before, and as a welcome burst of new Lost content halfway through that weekly wait between episodes. If these songs donâ€™t end up on the season 4 DVD set as some sort of extra, clearly ABC just doesnâ€™t care about the showâ€™s scarily die-hard fans that keep it on the air.
February 2 
You’re probably already aware of Louis Theroux, whose documentary on the Westboro Baptist Church is widely available online. Theroux has hosted several different shows for the BBC over the years, including Weird Weekends, which ran from 1998 to 2000 and followed Louis as he spent time with some of Americaâ€™s stranger subcultures. Just yesterday, Boing Boing linked to a treasure trove of Weird Weekend movies on Google Video, and I have no misgivings about spending most of Friday afternoon and evening ravenously devouring them.
What makes these documentaries so interesting â€“ aside from their diverse subjects of interesting oddballs ranging from male porn stars and black supremacists to UFO hunters â€“ is Louis Theroux himself. His genuine curiosity for his subjects allows him to insert himself into his documentaries without becoming the star attraction, asking potentially painful or embarrassing questions and surprisingly almost always getting honest answers in return. Michael Apted gets away with asking similarly blunt questions in his Up series because heâ€™s known his subjects â€“ age 49 as of the last installment â€“ since they were seven years old, at one point reminding a London taxi driver that he has failed at every career he has pursued in his life. Theroux doesnâ€™t have the advantage of becoming lifelong friends with the people heâ€™s documenting, and instead penetrates these peoplesâ€™ lives so effortlessly because he is open, friendly, and genuinely interested in what they have to say. Even when dealing with his most repelling subjects like Neo-Nazis or the aforementioned Westboro Baptist Church, he humanizes these people by cutting through their personas and rhetoric with his profound curiosity. The show is not just about the subjects themselves, but also about Therouxâ€™s journey to understand them.
So, should you find yourself unusually bored (
even moreso given this siteâ€™s current involuntary hiatus WAIT, I STILL FUNCTION) and donâ€™t mind spending an hour or two streaming decent enough quality video, you could do worse than randomly clicking a link at the bottom of the Boing Boing post linked to above. Or, if the laws of probability terrify you like they rightfully should, might I suggest a few personal favorites like the episode on white supremacists or maybe the one on gangsta rappers. Of course, for those who havenâ€™t seen it, Therouxâ€™s time spent with the Westboro Baptist Church is immensely interesting, even if it leaves your faith in humanity utterly destroyed.
January 10 
For those of you with something better to do all day than endlessly refresh news sites and Internet forums, Hulu is a joint venture video site from NBC Universal and News Corp. The site was initially billed as a YouTube-killer, especially after NBC went to such great lengths to remove all of its content from the Google-owned site. However, Hulu takes a very different approach to online video, featuring clips and full episodes from past and present shows on Fox, F/X, NBC, Bravo, USA, and The Sci Fi Channel, among others. Users cannot upload clips of their own.
Currently, the site is only available to US Beta testers, of which I am one. It features an interesting enough selection of shows, from current Internet clip heavy hitters like Family Guy and The Office to cult classics such as Firefly and Arrested Development. The movies themselves are extremely high quality, even when blown up to full screen, and remain entirely free thanks to short, 30 second advertisements from Cisco, Ford, Burger King, and Intel. Despite only being accessible to beta testers, these very same testers can embed any video in any page they want. OPENhulu, for example, mirrors all of Hulu’s content as embedded video. And look, here’s the dual-titled Master and Commander: On the Far Side of the World:
Yes, it’s the TV edit. No, I don’t know why.
Besides its two massive media backers and big name sponsors, Hulu is also kept afloat thanks to a $100 million investment from Providence Equity Partners, which is almost certainly as soulless and evil as their name makes them sound. Clearly, NBC Universal and News Corp. are pulling out all the stops to support this new venture and have obviously sunk a great deal of cash into the site. While it’s nice to see generally clueless media companies embrace the Internet so whole-heartedly, it makes many of their arguments in the on-going writer’s strike all the more transparent. And frankly, for all its polished, user-friendly appeal, Hulu doesn’t match piracy havens like YouTVPC or TV Link in terms of content or accessibility. Not that The DORK Club condones that sort of thing. Of course, at this point in time, both of the aforementioned sites are good and dead, their creators hauled off to jail.
At this point, Hulu just seems like too little, too late, a desperate ploy from networks that honestly don’t understand why their viewership continues to dwindle year after year. All of Hulu’s content can still be had commercial free, at a higher quality, from a variety of other sources. All this site really allows us to do is legally embed full episodes of shows into our pathetic, poorly trafficed sites.
Ultimately, I guess that’s as useful as anything else on the Internet.
January 2 
It’s been my experience that liveblogs are most useful for events that are either completely mundane or readily available to everyone. Thus, liveblogging the season premiere of Law & Order meets both criteria simultaneously. Why bother turning on your TV when some fool on the Internet is giving you the play-by-play?
We’ve had to wait until January because of those pesky writers and their damned strike for new Law & Order, but the generous folks at NBC have rewarded our patience with two brand new episodes, both of which feature Sam “Jack McCoy” Waterson as DA. I guess the hundred or so people that have yelled “you’ll never be DA, Jack!” to his face over the years were all wrong. Jack McCoy: 307, His Enemies: 0.
Because I don’t hate you nearly as much as I let on, I’ve hidden the actual liveblog part of this liveblog behind a shockingly convenient cut. You’re welcome, future generations.
December 26 
Live from dorkclub.com! One night only! Tune in to this very space one week from today (Wednesday, January 2) for The Official DORK Club Law & Order Season 18 Premiere Liveblog: Writer’s Strike Edition. Festivities begin at 9:00 PM PST and continue until 11:00 or until I get bored.
There may or may not be something new here before then, as family obligations continue.
November 22 
The Discovery Channel’s Rise of the Video Game turned out decent enough, though it lacked the intelligence and depth of PBSâ€™ The Video Game Revolution. From the start, the show works with the assumption that video games are in fact Art with a capital A, and as art is a reflection of the time and society in which it is created, the show explores the cultural milieu that birthed each featured game. Space War as an extension of the space race and Tennis for Two as a rebellious use of wartime technology are interesting angles, but the show never really goes beyond simply analyzing each game as a representation of its era.
This first episode covered the two aforementioned games as well as the Magnavox Odyssey, Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, the Atari 2600, and Tetris. Like The Video Game Revolution, Rise of the Video Game is told through carefully edited interviews from industry legends like Ralph Baer and Nolan Bushnell, but also includes lesser known â€“ and frankly, unnecessary â€“ video game personalities like the guy who created JFK: Reloaded. Gee, I hope a later episode includes the dude behind Super Columbine Massacre. The episode ends after a strange transition (and a three year gap in chronology) trying to connect the Atari 2600 and the video game crash of 1983 with Tetris, which really doesnâ€™t work at all. Tetris should have been saved for a discussion on handheld gaming, and the Game Boy â€“ and Nintendo â€“ werenâ€™t mentioned at all in the episode.
Next weekâ€™s entry, however, looks to remedy this. The preview promises some Donkey Kong loving, but I wonder why they didnâ€™t include it earlier in this weekâ€™s episode. Itâ€™s easy enough to talk about Donkey Kong without going into the details of Nintendo itself, and the game wouldâ€™ve worked very well as a follow up to Pac-Man and a continued discussion on characters in games. Oh well, guess theyâ€™re going to use it as a launching point for covering Nintendo and its savage marketing tactics that pulled the console market back out of the gutter.
Still, the show was worthwhile for what it was, and Iâ€™ll certainly watch the remaining four episodes. Its focus is far narrower than PBSâ€™ treatment of the same topic, despite having three more hours to cover the same ground. It wouldâ€™ve been nice to have some more interesting industry veterans rather than the vice president of IGN and some random indie game makers, but even the lesser known figures offered interesting input. The showâ€™s site allows users to rate the “classicness” of various games, including Second Life, Ragnorak Online, and Splinter Cell, and itâ€™s only with the clenched anticipation of pain that I look forward to the series covering these games. At the very least, though, it servers as a nice way to kill an hour before Mythbusters.
But wait, thereâ€™s more.
The Inn Music Database is now more pathetic and less pathetically Web 2.0-y, though no new music as been added. Iâ€™ve also started tagging old posts, which will ultimately lead to little else than a “tag cloud,” to firmly prove once and for all that penises are, in fact, The DORK Clubâ€™s most covered topic.
Boring blogy/site maintenance updates to be replaced by equally boring game review updates just as soon as I finish Dragon Quarter.
October 2 
Here’s the deal, Internet; our relationship isn’t a complex one. I stand in simultaneous fearful awe and disgusted disrespect of you. You tell me whenever Sam Waterson does anything, anywhere. It’s quite simple, really. Yet you always seem to let me down. Case in point: Sam Waterson was on the Colbert Report and you made no effort to inform me. Television picked up the slack a full four days after the fact, but in the case of Sam Waterson, too late is never too little. We’re on rocky ground, Internet.
But you and I are still best of friends, Web 2.0. Here, let me embed a video as a testament to your glory. Be sure to leave a comment!
September 24 
My 11-year-old, 21-inch standard definition television doesnâ€™t have AV input. No composite, no component. A single loose coaxial connection constantly in danger of falling out of my TV serves as its lone input option. In this HD era, audio and video signals reach my television by first passing through a composite switch and traveling from there to a cheap Wal-Mart VCR which has only one of the two standard audio inputs (a white, but no red hole). They finally reach my television via coaxial cable, passing through a SNES RF switch first, of course. I can only assume the picture I finally see would cause any videophile to vomit violently.
Though this setup is less than ideal when it comes to playing video games, the real problems arise when I try to watch a DVD. You see, some DVDs, seemingly chosen at random as I can find no common link between distributors or copyright holders, are protected by a dutiful soldier on the front lines of the war on piracy called Macrovision. â€œDesigned to deter unauthorized recording of copyrighted materials,â€ Macrovision horribly distorts the DVDâ€™s video signal if it passes through another recording device â€“ like a cheap Wal-Mart VCR â€“ on its way to its final destination. Macrovision alters the brightness of the image, causing it to pulse between light and dark extremes. Of course, this only affects anything on the DVD youâ€™d actually want to watch. Trailers and advertisements are always wholly unaffected.
I realize the primarily goal of anti-piracy measures is to punish people that legimately buy a product, and to that effect Macrovision is a worthwhile tool. Nevermind the fact that I can take any Macrovision-infested DVD and easily rip it to my computerâ€™s harddrive with no ill effects. I realize that Iâ€™m one of a select few that are still forced to run connections through other devices due to a lack of proper inputs, and therefore the number of people with honest intent affected by this problem is minimal, but what percent of piracy involves coping DVDs by running their output signals through VCRs? How many people even own a VCR any more, let alone actually have one set up to watch these freshly pirated DVD-to-VHS conversions?
Developing this Macrovision technology cost someone money. Licensing it for implementation on your newly released (and yet already widely available online) DVD collection also costs someone money. Itâ€™s a good thing Iâ€™m forced to use my PCâ€™s DVD drive to watch half of the movies Netflix sends me because of this. At least Macrovisionâ€™s helping curb that prevalent VHS piracy and doing its part to drive up DVD prices.
September 20 
Trying to write about Law & Order is a daunting task. The original series has been on the air for 17 years; its 18th season starts this January (look forward to a Law & Order premiere liveblog!). With four other series falling under the Law & Order umbrella â€“ two successes, two horrible, horrible failures â€“ the entire franchise represents an incomparably massive crime drama mythology. Thereâ€™s a lot to discuss, and simply choosing a starting point is an intimidating prospect. I want to quote Dick Wolf and tell you that Law & Order has done for New York what James Joyce did for Dublin. I want to quote Saturday Night Live and tell you all about the various components of The Sound. But Iâ€™m not going to do any of that yet. Instead, Iâ€™m going to start with Jack “Hang ‘Em High” McCoy (Sam Waterson), the reason I bothered watching an episode of the series beyond the first.
Jack McCoy isnâ€™t an asshole, exactly. He is a man who believes in justice, and he doesnâ€™t care whose toes he needs to step on, or whose skulls he needs to crush, to see justice done. He is a ruthless executive assistant district attorney. At one point, McCoy has all gay marriages in the state of New York annulled so that a murdererâ€™s confession no longer falls under the protection of spousal privilege, much to the annoyance of his lesbian ADA. In another instance, he stages a fake trial to extract information from a dirty DEA agent, ultimately failing and getting the agent killed. Having been found in contempt more than any other lawyer in New York (and once in a California court!), for Jack McCoy the ends are more important than the means. Heâ€™s an unconventional prosecutor that plays by nobodyâ€™s rules but his own. Basically, Jack McCoy is the Jack Bauer of the legal world. He even has an estranged daughter.
Additionally, Jack McCoy has taught me more about the American legal system than any other source. Thanks to him, I know what a grand jury is and understand the power of an indictment. I know to always object to hearsay, that most cases end in a plea, and that a prosecutor can get a witness to give the most prejudicial testimony in the world as long as the defense opens the door for it. Heâ€™s taught me to shake my head when I yell at people.
Heâ€™s also taught me that Law & Order is awesome. You see, McCoy isnâ€™t an anomaly. Law & Orderâ€™s entire cast is surprisingly well developed. I expected flat non-characters acting as siphons between viewers and the case of the week. Each character is defined by his or her actions, the actors playing their parts with an almost extreme minimalism, making each morsel of personal information all the sweeter. The main cast, subtle performance building on subtle performance, outshines the often cartoonish guest stars. Though the focus of each episode is unquestionably the case itself, the reoccurring characters â€“ their personal motivations and beliefs â€“ primarily drive the action. A case’s affect on the characters is frequently more interesting than the case itself.
Law & Order is the police procedural that knows itâ€™s a police procedural. Its seemingly rigid format â€“ 22 minutes of detectives working a case, an arrest, 22 minutes of the DAâ€™s office prosecuting the suspect â€“ isnâ€™t quite so rigid. The series often plays with its own format, playing against viewer expectations and easily manipulating the audience. Additionally, episodes rarely end with sterile conclusions. Everything comes with a price, and often the price is too high for the justice system to pay. The district attorneyâ€™s office loses many of the cases it prosecutes. Often times, an episode ends with no conclusion at all. The only true constant in the seriesâ€™ format comes from the “slice of life” segment in the first 30 seconds of each episode, often leading to a crime or the discovery of a crime scene.
The series is also far smarter than it has a right to be. As a mainstream police procedural/courtroom drama with nearly 400 episodes under its belt, Law & Order is a show that uses big words and doesnâ€™t stop to explain them. And just like Jack McCoy, it doesnâ€™t pull any punches, attacking issues “ripped from the headlines” head on and rarely taking the easy approach by choosing sides. It moves at breakneck speed, with no establishing shots or transitional scenes â€“ only white-on-black title cards accompanied by The Sound â€“ and dares the viewer to keep up. This isnâ€™t flashy, substanceless fluff like CSI or banal garbage like CSI: Miami (the #1 show in the world!). The rotating cast of genuinely interesting characters keeps things fresh, and some exceptional writing doesnâ€™t hurt either. Law & Order is an excellent TV series that is taken for granted by most television viewers, but is just as good now as it was 393 episodes ago. Better, even.
Oh, and that Dick Wolf quote? “Crime is a constantly renewable resource. Thatâ€™s why we have newspapers.” Thatâ€™s also why we have Law & Order.