Tuesday, January 31, 2012

[H]ouse, M.D. Episode 8x11 "Nobody's Fault" Previews & Sneak Peeks! You won't want to miss this one!

On February 6, 2012, after years of brilliant diagnostics using unorthodox and unethical methods, Dr. Gregory House's process goes on trial!

"Do you have any questions before we get started?"

"Yeah who the hell are you?"

"I'm Walter Cofield, Chief of Neurology, Mercy Hospital. I'll be deciding your fate today."

Monday, January 30, 2012

[H]ouse, M.D. Episode 8x10 "Runaways"

Anyone notice that House popped Vicodin twice in tonight's episode? Notice he's doing it rather discreetly in the sense that he covers the pill bottle completely with his hand and doesn't flaunt it like he used to. This must be the kindler, gentler, Vicodin abusing House.

My dislikes:
  • Foreman and the new girlfriend. Boring. Seriously, I'm surprised they lasted that long. In regards to relationships Foreman never struck me as shallow so it was kind of odd that he decided to break it off because it lost it's excitement once he found out she told her husband.
  • Taub. Anything to do with Taub. And yes, including those adorable babies of his Sophia and Sophie.
  • Wilson giving Taub advice about child-rearing. Really? The guy's been married three times and oddly enough people still take his advice. Well everyone but House that is, because he's smart enought to know better.  Not to mention haven't we seen this before...oh yeah when Cuddy couldn't bond with baby Rachel and Wilson gave her advice on that
  • Adams's insane moral compass and this need she has to right every wrong. Cut the crap people. She's not Cameron, she's not Masters. Why are they trying to make her into one or both?
  • Park. Period. Need I say more?
  • The episode just kind of felt like it was missing something. It wasn't funny, interesting, riveting or exciting. That said, Hugh Laurie can make reading the ingredients on a loaf of bread Emmy worthy so....

My likes:
  •  House making his team meet him for breakfast thirty miles away under the guise of "just because I can" when really he was out to spy on Foreman and the married girlfriend. Remember, "Oh HI Dean Foreman!" and House waiving like an idiot. :)
  • Chase doing peek-a-boo and talking about sex in front of Taub's baby girls. 
  • House wanting to protect that girl from her mother. Seems to me that his philosophy is that it's better to have no parent than a crappy one who doesn't care about you.
  • House skeet shooting, three attempts, three misses. He may be one hell of a diagnostician but his aim sucks LOL!  By the way, someone should ask David Shore what an ex-con is doing with a shotgun? Hmm...
    • The first part of the end dialogue between House and Adams. Adams: "She said when her mom slips again she didn't want to be there, she'd rather remember her how she is now."  That could go for House's thoughts about his father in that he would rather remember few good times he had with his dad (we know they existed, remember Braveheart?) and there's also the possibility that it it might have referenced Cuddy in that it would have been better for her had they not been involved as a couple at all, that they remember the good times they once shared. Neither of those things are implied when he says this but I thought might as well throw them in.
    • The second part of the end dialogue between House and Adams. House: "I was looking to solve the case, not their lives. I don't care if the people who work for me are screwed up, I even encourage it. But absolution, you do it on your own time. Or not at all. Because clearly you suck at it."  I thought that was a low blow, but I think he's trying to teach her a lesson here, how her guilt complex isn't going to make her a better doctor. Adams and her moral compass are annoying. Cameron's never bothered me so why does it bother me with Adams? Because I feel like everything Adams does is motivated by a sense of guilt whereas with Cameron it seemed her wanting to do good was because she really wanted to do good. 
    • House telling the mother that her daughter hates her and that she should hate her.  House has some serious parent-related issues and still we're not getting a glimpse into them and it's driving me crazy. House has never gotten over his dad's abuse but I wonder if secretly he harbors resentment at his mother for letting it go on. The question is will we ever really know why Blythe House didn't step in and save her son? We can assume the reason he was able to function properly as an adult has something to do with her but there's more to it. I'm worried when Blythe House shows up in March, we're going to be treated to antics and not some serious mother-son time.
    • House leaving that pill bottle next to the mother to prove his theory "people don't change" when it backfired on him. People do change, well at least sometimes. The mother changed, the daughter didn't.
    • Oh yeah and how can I forget! The Confederate soldiers in the clinic. LMAO. "One of us is in the wrong time zone, if it's me I need to talk to a stockbroker and anyone in the Kennedy family, in that order."  I absolutely love the look House gave them when they walked out of the exam room the first time. I was laughing my ass off on their second visit, puking their guts out. And by the way, what self-respecting true confederate wears a polyester uniform?

    This episode was just filler in anticipation of next week's critically acclaimed episode. I have it on excellent authority it's well...excellent. Let me add, that next week's episode "Nobody's Fault" is episode 11 and supposed to be the most outstanding of the season so far.

    I love the character Gregory House. I love Wilson and Chase. I miss the old Foreman. I can't stand Taub except for his snarkiness (I love it when he gives it back to House) and I can't stand Park or Adams. 

    It's because I've watched House's journey from the very beginning that I am bound and determined to see it through to its logical....or illogical conclusion.  Can't wait till next week!

    BTW, has anyone seen Katie Jacobs?

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Could "unemployed" become a protected class?

    It's possible.

    According to this NY Times story, President Obama Proposes Protecting Unemployed Against Hiring Bias

    Say you own a business. You interview two individuals both of whom have the experience and background you are looking for. Now depending on the needs of the company, some employers may choose to hire the already unemployed person because since both are qualified and one is already employed, they'd like to give the unemployed person an opportunity. I think that's great. But what if for some reason, the employer feels the need to go with the already employed person (could have to do with needing up-to-date experience or skills in that area, who knows?). Does this mean the unemployed person can sue for discrimination? How does the unemployed person prove discrimination is involved?

    Americans seeking employment are already protected against discrimination based on race, religion, gender, religion and national origin. I'm ok with that since none of those things should prohibit an individual from being able to carry out their duties so it should not be a factor in employment. However,  when it comes to things like experience, education, skills, we need to let the employer have the final say. Competition is tough today and some companies may find it's imperative to hire someone who has the training/skills which are the most current than someone who is behind because they've been unemployed.

    I'd love to see every person who is unemployed and wants to work, have a job right now but we should tread carefully in this area that we don't let the government have too much of a hand in the decision-making process. Once we open the door, there's no closing it.

    Two great analyses of [H]ouse, M.D. that you will enjoy reading.

    The first one is an excellent piece titled "House...Deconstructed" by Flo, a writer and former cinema student: http://wellwellwelles.livejournal.com/5746.html

    The second is another fantastic piece titled "Comments and interpretation/translation of Kath Lingenfelter's comments during her interview with Barbara Barnett" by Kate at http://t.co/biTtkCu

    Both authors touched on things many of us have been saying for a while now. There's no need for me to offer my own commentary here as these authors did an outstanding job in theirs. 


    Monday, January 23, 2012

    [H]ouse, M.D. Episode 8x09 "Better Half"

    Folks, I had a really great piece written, then I hit a wrong key and lost it all, even the draft I'd saved. So instead of trying to recreate the goodness, I'm just going to be brief here. Now let me just preface this by saying when I say "I'm just going to be brief" it's not actually brief in the sense you're thinking of. My "brief" is still only slightly shorter than a thesis. :)

    The dislikes:

    I miss the puzzle normally associated with the POTW. There wasn't this big mystery or build up to it. In addition there's usually some underlying personal issue that contributes to the illness. House prides himself in the theory that everybody lies is generally at he root of his patients illnesses, but not this time.

    Foreman's obnoxiousness and attempts to one-up House are annoying. Foreman once said he didn't want to be like House, which is odd because he is like House and as Cuddy once said, he's House-light. Foreman misses the puzzles, he's not cut out to be an Administrator. I really liked him better as part of the team. I was just telling someone the other day about some of Foreman's best moments which include attempting to one-up House in "Mirror Mirror" and what I thought was an awesome performance in "House Training" where I actually cried at the end as he hugged his mother.

    Who wants to see more of Chase's humanity? I like Chase but enough already. We've been teased with a Chase-centric episode. Could I be more unexcited? It's House's humanity I want to see!

    Park. Adams.  Some say the actresses are underused. I say they shouldn't be used at all. What is the point of having them there? Park and Adams add no new dimensions to this show.  This is how I see them. First, Park is an extremely intelligent young woman raised in a very strict household. She craves friendship but is socially inept and has a hard time making friends. She's boring with a very dry sense of humor. As to Adams, I see her as straight-laced, moral, and feeling guilt over being born with a silver spoon in her mouth, which is by the way in House-land a very crappy reason to do want to be a doctor. Nothing worse than trying to do good out of a feeling of guilt. You do good because you want to not because you have to. That was one of the differences between Adams and Cameron. Like Park, she doesn't add anything to the development of House's character or the show. If she's supposed to be his conscience, it's not working, that's been done, her name was Cameron, and of course there's Wilson, who seems to be less of House's conscience as he's drawn into the dark side. In all honesty, Adams and Park feel like mere placeholders. 

    Finally, House and Wilson's games. Is it a bit overdone? Has the common-sense, down-to-earth Wilson suddenly succumbed to the dark side?  With Cuddy gone they've got to make this friendship even more meaningful but there's no replacement for House's other half. Both Wilson and Cuddy offered something important to House's character and now Wilson has to fill both roles which isn't working. Note that the House-Wilson antics in this episode are also listed below in my likes!

    The likes:

    House and Wilson. Those two are so good together. The scene with the cigars was hilarious. Also early on the bet in the cafeteria--who didn't think that House would find a way to circumvent the rules without forfeiting the bet?  We know it's not all about the money, that was evident when House burned that bill. It was about the game. House once again established his intellectual superiority by solving the puzzle without breaking the rules of the game. With Cuddy out of the picture the only person he can sparr with is Wilson, but it's not sparring, it's frat-boy antics. Wilson is really all House has left and TPTB have to make to in Lisa's absence but Wilson can't be to House what Cuddy was to him and we still feel the loss.

    That part about  Park having banged thirty guys in college--saying that she lived next door to a Jewish fraternity--was that supposed to be funny? Hey, even Jewish guys have standards! What I did like about this part was that House actually was interested enough to want to know more about it! No doubt an effort to use it against her later on. We know that House loves digging up dirt on his team. This piece was just handed to him on a silver platter by Park herself. Poor girl, she'll learn eventually.

    Plot A was the POTW case, while there was no great puzzle and it kinda bored me,  I felt bad for the wife who had been married only a few months when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She gave up a lot to take care of him.  As to plot B, the clinic patient, House may have been right about that case in that there was a medical reason for the perceived asexuality, albeit it wasn't on the part of the patient but her husband, however House, being the misanthropic son of a bitch that he is who doesn't believe in happiness or true love would have been thrilled if he could have proven the reason it didn't bother the wife was because she was getting it elsewhere, which actually wasn't the case at all. She lied about being asexual herself because she loved her husband. We can be sure House was annoyed by that heartfelt act of sacrifice.

    Foreman finally figuring out that he can't continue to try and reign House in by threatening a return to jail. He should know better than anyone that House works better unconstrained by the same rules that apply to everyone else. House needs to be free of this constraint even if it costs him. It could very well backfire on Foreman in the future. Who knows what crazy stunt House will pull because Foreman has loosened the reigns? But the thing is that Foreman is not a very good boss for House, we've seen him as his supervisor a handful of times over the years and it never worked and it's never going to work. Cuddy was really the only person who could reign House in but she knew just when and how to do it.

    Foreman's epiphany won him the right to claim he solved the case but in the end he knows House is the better diagnostician and I think it shows. Foreman clearly misses diagnostics and while I dislike that he gave it up to be hospital administrator, I like that he can't give up the puzzles so easily. He's torn and he should be. He once said he didn't want to be like House but he respects the hell out of the man.  I recall in Season 4 when House was testing the fellowship candidates and Cuddy appointed Foreman back on the team to keep an eye on things, Foreman proved himself (again) to House and impressed House so much that as they walked out of the hospital together, House complimented Foreman. Remember that? I loved that scene. Foreman has a fragile ego, House knows that, and he knows when to compliment a job well done. There's never been a doubt that he respects Foreman as a doctor but he has just never respected him as an administrator or boss. Why? Because Foreman was never good at that. He did however respect Cuddy as an administrator because she was damn good at it.

    Taub was absent last night. I didn't even miss him.

    Speaking of Taub, I laughed my ass off at House's comment about Taub being in his backpack. By the way this and the comment about Foreman's vests were both ad libs by Hugh Laurie!

    And this comment: “You mean you think they’re..?” asks Park doing this weird hand gesture that made no sense whatsoever. To which Chase replies, “If they’re having sex, they probably use their genitals." LOVED THAT ONE!

    Foreman being called on the carpet by a donor for his administration of the hospital. No shocker as we've been doing it all season.

    The parallels between the clinic patient and the POTW. Both women lying to their husbands (albeit by omission). Which lie was the worse one? Lying about a secret relationship or lying that you are asexual because your husband is and you love him enough that you don't care about that.

    House calling Foreman "Dr. Blackenschmirtz" "Black Pawn" and "Cuddy Dark". Come on, that's no worse than my personal favorite "Blackpoleon Blackaparte". Hey, if House went through one complete episode without making a racist or sexist remark I think I'd keep over.

    All in all, parts of the episode were great, but overall I thought it was weak. I'm sorry, I'm still comparing these episodes to past seasons and I really can't help it.  *Sigh* Something is still missing.  House, our hero, our protagonist, needs his foil! It's not Foreman and it can't be Wilson. Wilson is House's sidekick, he's the nice charming guy that helps bring out House's humanity every now and then. He doesn't have the personality to be House's nemesis, he wasn't designed for it in the first place. Foreman is like House, he's no adversary because House doesn't consider him his equal or his rival. Think of it this way, House is modeled after Holmes. Holmes's sidekick was Watson but his nemesis was Moriarty. Who was House's Moriarty? Cuddy. House considered Cuddy a very worthy adversary, she could go toe to toe with him every step of the way, without fearing him and without backing down. House respected it. He loved it. He reveled in it.  I told you when Lisa Edelstein left the show that without both Wilson and Cuddy (the sidekick and the foil) to balance House, it would feel as if something were missing and I'm right. Something is still missing. You can't just take Foreman's character and try to reshape him into Cuddy. Not. Going. To. Happen.

    This episode did take the number one spot but my belief is that there were two factors. First, the lack of competition. CBS aired a repeat of "How I Met Your Mother" while the other networks ran a variety of unpopular shows. Second, House just came off a long hiatus had something to do with its 19% increase in th ratings. I don't expect that to be the norm. For the record, below are the numbers since the season premiere. I've included the date the episode aired followed by it's rating/share of audience, and number of people who watched.

    01/23:   3.1/8   8.2m
    11/28:   2.6/6   7.3m
    11/21:   2.5/6   7.3m
    11/14:   2.5/6   6.7m
    11/07:   2.7/6   7.5m
    10/31:   2.5/6   6.5m
    10/17:   3.1/7   8.4m
    10/10:   2.3/6   5.9m
    10/03:   3.9/9   9.7m 

    The optimal number to shoot for regular season ratings is in the mid 3's range. House hasn't been able to do that since the season premiere Twenty Vicodin. During sweeps week shows strive for at least a 3.5 or higher but House did not achieve that during November's fall sweeps. Maybe in spring?  Who knows?  I will say that when you compare these numbers to House numbers in prior seasons, this season just doesn't hold up.

    There are 14 more episodes left this season we know about at least four of them:

    1) In next week's episode, "The team treats an underage and homeless female patient but when her symptoms worsen and call for an invasive surgery requiring adult consent, House and Adams argue over whether they should contact social services. The patient confesses that she ran away from home after struggling to take care of her mother, a recovering drug addict. But when her mother appears at her bedside, a more complicated relationship is revealed and the patient's mother must put the past aside and make the best decision for her daughter. Meanwhile, Taub has a difficult time connecting with his infant daughters and House threatens to exploit Foreman's relationship with a married woman."

    2) In episode 11 (I'm looking forward to this one) "A violent incident involving a patient has serious consequences for one staff member, House and the team are placed under review by Dr. Walter Cofield, Foreman's former mentor and current Chief of Neurology. As House and each member of his team recount the details of the dramatic and life-threatening incident, Cofield must weigh the team's unconventional brand of collaboration against their ability to save lives."

    This episode is supposed to be what Yaitanes calls a "game changer" and we can only wonder what it is. Considering that House's Diagnostics department was created especially for him by Cuddy I can only wonder if PPTH is going to decide that the risks taken by House and the team outweigh the benefits and that it is better to close the department although that wouldn't be the kind of episode you'd air halfway through the season. 

    3) The the green-card wife (uggh!) returns shortly for episode 13 in which the Immigration folks have to verify the marriage is not a sham. Though it is, in fact, a sham, House will need to endure a crash course in marriage (no doubt his instructor will be the three time married Wilson) so that he doesn't go to jail for fraud. Can I just say that when I read Kath Lingenfelter's interview about House's "family" (his mom, Wilson, etc) and how the green-card wife is in a sense, a member of that family, even if it is a fake marriage and she's not family in the traditional sense, I wanted to hurl. By the way, what exactly did David Shore mean when he said they were not going to revisit the green-card wife mess? They were going to essentially pretend it never happened by just dropping it and never mentioning it again.

    4) Sometime in March, House's mother Blythe (the fabulous Diane Baker!) returns for a visit with her new boyfriend portrayed by actor Billy Connolly and House can't be happy about that. Diane Baker and Billy Connolly? This should be a hoot. House can't complain much about his mother's choice of boyfriends considering in an effort to piss off Cuddy, he married a foreign chick who agreed to clean his apartment in exchange for a marriage of convenience to get a green card. 

    House writer Kath Lingenfelter said that the last five episodes are serial, in that they all flow together. A lot of people, me included, were hoping they could find a way to convince Lisa to return and give the series a proper farewell. Whether or not that happens, a lot of us who have followed this show since day one are extremely concerned at what crazy way they plan to end the season, and possibly the series. Funny thing about the series ending, we still don't know if this is it. It's crazy too because they've shot half the episodes for the season and still don't know what's going to happen with the series yet. This is highly unusual!

    That's all for today folks. We'll see what happens next week.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Thoughts on the four Marines, urinating on dead insurgents, and Rick Perry.

    Been thinking about the story of the four Marines who urinated on the bodies of dead insurgents.

    First, I'm not overly concerned. Why? Because just as in civilian life, there are consequences for breaking the law, so exists such in the Armed Forces. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has very specific provisions for dealing with the behavior and actions of those subject to it. Article 134 covers the actions of the four Marines:
    "Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of the court."
    I know firsthand from having served that servicemen and women are held to a higher standard of conduct. than civilians. There are a great number of punishable offenses in the military one will not find in the civilian world. There's a reason for that: in order for the military to carry out its mission to defend this nation, it requires adherence to rules and order, for without it there would be no United States of America. The four Marines who perpetrated this act brought discredit and dishonor to our military services and should be prosecuted in accordance with the UCMJ. I've got no problem with that. That said, but they should be tried ONLY for violating the UCMJ and not for anything else. They should not be punished to appease politicians or the American people, or to keep the peace w/our friends abroad, or to keep the enemy from retaliating.

    Second, do these Marines deserve the flack they've received? Was what they did that big a deal? What they did has been called despicable. Rick Perry attempts to downplay the actions of these Marines by stating very publicly and without regret that what happened to Daniel Pearl and the US contractors in the Middle East years back is what is really despicable. I agree with the Governor on that but I disagree with his attempt to justify the actions of these soldiers by deflecting using Pearl, the contractors and the words "mistake" and "young men".  These aren't "kids" these are professional soldiers, an elite group of soldiers at that, and they knew better. By the way, I just thought that Perry bringing this into the debate was pointless. His point could have been made without it. He was hoping to capitalize on it and no doubt he did.

    Third, I think pissing on the dead bodies of the enemy just brings us down to the level of the terrorists. Come on, we're the USA, we're better than that right? We champion human rights, we fight for the little guy, we try to do the right thing. I'm not talking about our government so much as I am the people who make up this great nation. What would we think if the enemy soldier did that to our troops or civilians? All hell would break loose and rightly so. We'd be mad as hell! Remember what the terrorists did to the dead bodies of the federal contractors? Sure, the federal contractors weren't hurting anyone while all the terrorists do is kill people. That's true, but it doesn't justify us acting like them. Just because the other guy does it, doesn't mean it's okay for us to do it too.

    That said, I'll add one more thing which I feel is very important. War is hell. Period. Nobody knows better than the soldier who has to fight it. Our soldiers in the Middle East are stationed in what can only be referred to as hell. They are thousands of miles away from home in a country where they are not wanted, where they were not invited, and thrown into a war that cannot be won.  In addition, while our soldiers are required by our government to fight in accordance with rules of engagement, they are fighting an enemy that has no such rules. There is no way a person who has never been subject to this kind of warfare can even begin to comprehend the magnitude of this situation in which our brave soldiers have been placed. And that brings me to another thought...can we condemn the behavior of these soldiers without considering the situation they've been placed in that likely contributed to such behavior? Was this behavior inevitable considering the stress these soldiers face every single day?  I wonder....while they are at fault for their actions and are being held accountable, who is at fault and should be held accountable for putting them in that situation in the first place? 

    I'm sure there will be mixed reactions on this post. There's two sides to every story and this situation is certainly proof of that.

    Editing in....if I sound like I'm contradicting myself here, it's possible. I've mixed feelings on this issue but I felt compelled to write about it.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2012

    What do we do when we can't trust food labels or the government agency that monitors them?

    We're all concerned about health and nutrition and we should be. Heart disease, cancer and strokes are the top three causes of death in the United States. Diet is the biggest risk factor!  Did you know at least 30-40% of all cancers can be attributed to diet and lifestyle?

    The government became interested in  the nutrition of its citizens in the 1930s and 40s and during WWII was especially concerned about making sure American soldiers were receiving the proper nutrition. Since that time we've relied on the government to establish guidelines and regulations related to food and drink. The RDA, which is the Recommended Daily Allowance establishes the "optimal amount for health and well-being."  The group responsible for the RDA standards is the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.

    In order to be sure they are eating healthy and getting the proper nutrition, the American people must be able to rely on food labels. But labels can be deceiving. In 2005, John Stossel did an excellent segment of his 20/20 "Give Me A Break" series in which he exposed the lies and misconceptions related to food labels and portion size. It's about five minutes long and you can view it below.

    While some things have changed since Stossel's report, there is till much work to do and we're left wondering if we can believe what we're reading on food labels. Conducting our own research is cumbersome and time-consuming, most Americans don't have time for it, which is one of the great things about labels. I'm not saying that we should rely solely on the government or that we shouldn't do our own research but the fact of the matter is that a government agency whose purpose is to establish and monitor nutrition standards is supposed to make sure food companies do this for us and that the information is correct and in line with the agency's guidelines.

    So what do we do when the established guidelines of the government agency are absurd and food companies mislead us on the labeling?

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    Late for work in my dreams again...

    Last night I had a dream that my sister, brother and I were riding to work together and they made me late for work. In my dreams I'm always running late because of them or something else beyond my control. I was stuck making the lunches again, we were living at mom's house. In the same dream, I recall being over at my grandmother's house, I had a backache and she gave me a bottle with pills and on the front of the bottle was the brand name "Control" and the pills were green. I took one for my backache. Then I woke up.

    I won't even go into how there was a scene from "All in the Family" in the dream. That was strange enough...