Monday, April 26, 2010

Community, the Best Comedy on Television

I can't stop watching Thursday's episode of Community. This show is really firing on all cylinders right now combining brilliant pop-culture parody with lovably weird characters. Set among a Spanish study group at Greendale Community College; a small, not very well regarded school; Community has created a surprisingly rich tapestry to tell its stories with even minor background characters like "Leonard" and "Starburns" getting their moments to shine. As for the main cast of characters, they all seem to be searching for either redemption or acceptance. Jeff, the disbarred lawyer; Pierce, the ex-CEO who has never really had or wanted friends until now; Britta, the embittered slacker; Shirley, the recent divorcĂ©e; Annie, the overachiever and former pill-popper; Troy, the immature dumb jock; Abed, the pop-culture loving kid who can't seem to connect with "normal" people—at times the show feels like Lost with robot jokes.

While Thursday's episode continues Abed's obsession with movies and TV, it also shows a strong emotional edge as Abed finally finds a way to connect with people by getting them to all speak the same language—"chicken." Abed's inability to express himself and connect to people has been a running theme all throughout the series. In the pilot Jeff speculates that he has Asperger Syndrome. Abed's father is constantly frustrated by his son's oddness and only comes to accept his behavior when he explains it through a movie that he makes. So while Abed does insist that he has "self-esteem coming out of my butt," he definitely has a serious problem dealing with other people. Thus when he gets his opportunity to relate to people through his control of Greendale's popular chicken finger snacks, Abed takes it and runs with it. But this connection is tenuous and it is easy for him to see that it will disappear when people get tired of the chicken fingers. That's an awful lot of character development to put into a half-hour show and still manage to squeeze in a brilliant mob-movie parody and a lesson for Jeff on the consequences of exploiting your friends for your own gain.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

IAU Decides Earth is No Longer a Planet

HONOLULU (AP) -- The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the international body of scientists responsible for naming stars, planets, and other astronomical bodies, announced today that following a vote taken at its annual Spring meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii that it was reclassifying the Earth. The IAU voted to strip Earth of its "planet" designation and reclassifying it as a "giant dwarf planet." An IAU spokesman said that the change is meant to eliminate confusion following its 2006 decision to demote Pluto from "planet" to "dwarf planet" status.

"We chose to reclassify Pluto in part because it is part of a larger body of objects which we call the 'Kuiper Belt,'" said IAU spokesman James Brown. "Since Pluto is too puny to clear this area of debris, we felt that a new designation was necessary to distinguish Pluto from proper planets like Venus and Neptune." Brown went on to explain the motivation which drove the IAU's decision regarding Earth. "As with Pluto, the way we see Earth's place in the solar system must change as new discoveries are made. Earth was once regarded as the center of the universe but as science progressed, our view of Earth's place in the universe had to change. As more and more Near Earth Objects (NEOs) have been discovered it appears that Earth, despite its much larger mass and gravity, like Pluto is not able to completely clear the neighborhood around its orbit. While many NEOs like Apophis will probably either collide with Earth or be ejected from their orbits by Earth's gravity, there are also enough objects like Cruithne with weird but stable orbits that we feel that a new classification was necessary to describe Earth's place in the solar system."

A second vote to decide whether or not Jupiter should be promoted from a "planet" to a "dwarf brown dwarf" has been scheduled for the IAU's winter meeting in December.