Thursday, January 31, 2008

Where Will I Journal From This Year?

It's 2008.

It recently struck me that, with the exception of a quickie "ski" weekend to Park City ("Ski" is in quotes because I will not actually be skiing), I have no vacations planned for this year.

My vacationing has been in a state of flux lately.  I used to like lots of little trips throughout the year -- usually long weekends in New York to see plays -- and the occasional lengthier trip to a more distant location (e.g., a week in London to see more plays).  But lately, that hasn't really been doing it for me -- probably because I see a hell of a lot of plays in Los Angeles, what with being a theatre critic and all -- so New York has become a much less attractive destination.

AND I've taken even larger trips -- both in terms of duration and destination -- and they've been pretty cool too.

So, now, as I start to look at my "vacation day" balance at work, I realize it's about time to start planning my next trip.  I'm trying to figure out where I'd like to go this year, and nothing is really leaping out at me.  Any ideas?

(Seriously.  I take ideas.  Wouldn't have ended up in Iceland if Peggy hadn't suggested it.  Although Iceland is out this time because, damn, $20 for a hamburger.  Not that I ate hamburgers in Iceland or anything.  I had fish.  But still.)

Here are the parameters:

1.  I can get, more or less, anywhere.  I have a ton of frequent flier miles and I'm not afraid to use 'em.  (And thank you, Citibank AAdvantage card.)

2.  Once I'm there, I do not want to spend a big pile of money.  (Because I'm still in "save money for buying house" mode.)

3.  This means:  no cruises and no pricey package tours.

4.  This means:  I'll need to get around the destination city pretty much on my own.

5.  This means:  It should probably be a place where they speak English.

6.  And have a safe way for women travelling alone to get around town.

Beyond that, I'm pretty open.  I'm thinkin' that perhaps I should aim for something of a warm-weather destination, just because last year's trip was, y'know, Alaska.  Then again, since I just did Alaska, I'm largely set in terms of cold-weather gear.

So ... any ideas?

(Bonus points for any idea that would get me interviewed onThe Colbert Report.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My "Spare Time" Goal

In my spare time, I'm working on accomplishing the apparently unachievable:  I want to be a guest on The Colbert Report.

And, indeed, now seems like the time to strike (so to speak).  Due to the absence of writers, Stephen is generally having two guests per episode, rather than the usual one.  And since there are fewer available guests (when we exclude those who will not cross the picket lines), that makes this a golden opportunity to fulfill one's dream of being interviewed by Colbert.

How to accomplish this.  Well, there appear to be several main ways to get onesself in the Potential Colbert Interviewee Pool.

1.  Become a member of Congress.  Stephen interviews Representatives in his "Better Know a District" segment.  I think this is not a really good way to get myself interviewed.  There's no guarantee that Stephen would get around to my district during my initial two-year term in Congress.  (Indeed, I'm pretty sure he's already interviewed my current Representative, which would mean I'd need him to be willing to "better know" my District a second time, before he has finished "better knowing" most Districts even once.)  Not to mention the whole having-to-get-elected thing.  It would be pricey to run a campaign, and I'd miss a lot of work.

2.  Name something after Stephen.  This has worked for such items as:  a junior league hockey team mascot; a bridge in Hungary; and a really big airplane.  I do not believe I have a suitable naming opportunity available.  (No sports teams, no bridges, no airplanes.)  I do not anticipate discovering a new species of ... anything anytime soon, nor am I likely to discover a comet or other item of astronomical goodness that would come with a naming opportunity.  (For starters, I would need to buy a telescope.)  So that's out.  I am more than willing to name my Roomba after Stephen.  It makes a lot of noise and frequently bangs its head against the wall.

3.  Write a nonfiction book.  This, too, is problematic.  One needn't just write the book, one must get it published too.  Ideally, it is a well-researched tome of historical, political, and/or religious significance.  I'm not so sure I can pound one of those puppies out between now and the time the writers' strike -- and my Golden Guest Opportunity -- ends.  It sounds suspiciously like work.  (I can, however, write a short pamphlet entitled, "How to Get Interviewed on The Colbert Report."  There's just one more step I'll need to complete my research.)

4.  End the writers' strike.  While, technically, nobody has become a guest on The Colbert Report for ending the writers' strike, I do believe that ending the strike (and saying I'm doing it all for Stephen) would earn me a fast track ticket to two-and-a-half minutes of basic cable fame.  I have some experience in mediation, having come up with a way the litigants could settle one entire lawsuit some sixteen years ago.  So I'm putting the offer out there -- give me a copy of the current contract, each side's negotiating position, the side deals already negotiated with individual producers, a locked room, the lead negotiators for the union and the producers, a dry erase board, and all the Nacho Cheese Doritos we can eat, and I'll see if we can't take care of this right now.

5.  Create an interesting website.  Now, at first, I'd thought this was one of those things like
"write a nonfiction book," where you'd have to put in all sorts of work to get your website up and running with ten gajillion hits per minute before Stephen's booking people would even look at you.  Au contraire, mon ami.  The other day, he had a guy on whose website had only been up for five days.  I've had websites up for way longer than that, although, admittedly, this guy's site had rather more television appeal than pictures of my cat.  (At least, to some people.  Some of us think pictures of my cat are pretty darned appealing.)  This does seem like a promising line of potential guestitude.  All I need is an idea for a website that Stephen's peeps might be interested in promoting, some bandwidth, a web designer, and a publicist.  I've got leads on items 2, 3, 4, so all I really need is the brilliant idea for a Colbert-plug-worthy website.

Me and the cat are gonna get right on that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Of Course, I'm Not Listing My Condo This Week

Why on earth did anyone actually think I could?

It rained something wicked yesterday, and that was enough to make the rain gather in my fireplace wall again.

Because I care about all you nice people reading, I will here omit the recounting, in painstaking detail, of the forty or so emails that drifted through my life today.  The highlights of which included the condo association scheduling the Leak Detection Guy to come out next Saturday -- next Saturday is, not so coincidentally, the day my parents are planning to drive in from Arizona so we can celebrate my mom's birthday together.  Yeah, I'm sure they're looking forward to following up on that 8 hour drive with another 8 hours of sitting around my living room while some guy sprays a hose on our roof and waits for the water to come through the chimney.  Happy 69th Mom!  Hope you can handle the excitement.

Now, I'd had an appointment for my real estate agent to come out tomorrow and do the paperwork for the listing, and I suggested she come anyway so we'll be all ready to go (on the happy day that we repair the leak damage in my fireplace), and my agent tells me that her mom just died but she'll come anyway.  ("No," I write back, "You won't.")  Which is the sort of thing that just throws a big wake-up call of ice on my own Personal Pity Party, because even though all of this leak stuff and scheduling stuff is a major pain in the backside causing me apparently endless stress, it doesn't compare with an actual death of a loved one.

Which is a sobering thought, to be sure, but (as I've perceptively pointed out to other people in my situation) it doesn't make my own annoyances any less invalid.  I mean, yes, absolutely, things can be outrageously worse and I should, and do, thank my lucky stars that they're not.  But I still ate a half-dozen cookies, pet the cat for a good half-hour, and am wildly looking around for something ... centering (yep, that's the word) to do tomorrow, because I know that I'm a few more stupid HOA emails away from biting someone's head off and spitting down their neck.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Because sometimes I'm four

OK, yeah, so I'm watching BBC World News America.  And they're talking about how stock markets around the globe have dropped because they fear our economy is falling, and they think President Bush's Economic Recovery Package is too little too late.

Which leads the newscaster to say the following -- which I doubt an American newscaster would say, because it makes one's inner four-year-old giggle:

"International markets are not impressed with President Bush's package."

Nine Months of Crap

Back when I was in Law School, I lived in the dorms.  This meant that, at the end of each year, I had to pack everything I owned into boxes to be put in storage over the summer.  And at the start of the next year, I would make all sorts of promises to live neatly and tidily -- but, inevitably, the crap would accumulate by the end of the school year.

I experienced this in my first apartment, too.  I could keep the accumulation of random stuff down to a minimum for about nine months -- but somewhere between nine months and year, the place started to change from "my nice new apartment" to "something totally lived-in."

I mention this because it's been about ten months since I took my condo off the market.  During the five or so months that it was listed, I was totally Ms. Perfect (and her Invisible Cat).  I ran the Roomba every morning.  I folded my towel when I got out of the shower.  I even kept the shampoo hidden in a drawer.  Trash was never permitted to overflow the bin.  Dishes never piled in the sink.  Counters wiped.  Floors swept.  And everything was put away -- my desk was empty.  Empty.  The usual accumulation of unpaid bills and unused coupons was hidden away in a cabinet.

And when we pulled the listing, I still kept things largely clean.  OK, sure, the shampoo bottle now proudly remains in the shower.  And a pile of stuff I needed to access moved from its hiding place in the closet to the shelf above my desk.  But, mostly, things were still tidy.

But now I've passed that magic Nine Month barrier, and, as usual, things have gotten out of hand.  The shower hosts not just one shampoo bottle, but two shampoos, two conditioners, two different liquid soap bottles, and various other showering acoutrements.  (And remember, there's only one of me.)  The pile on my desk has turned into five piles.  And I run the Roomba about once a week.  (Yes.  I am too lazy to push a button to vacuum daily.)  Because it has been more than nine months, cleaning up to re-list the condo is like starting all over again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The "As Seen on TV" Challenge

The challengers -- three cleaning products:

The competition -- one rust stain behind my toilet:

In truth, we are joining the competition already in progress.  I've been working on this stain for days.  My (regular strength) Mr. Clean Magic Eraser got a little off it off, and my Clorox Bleach Pen didn't do jack.  So, I went to the store today, planning to get me some CLR or something that would take that rust away.

(While at the store, I read the packaging on the Clorox Bleach Pen, which says that some stains "such as rust stains" may be "impossible to get out."  Thanks.)

CLR is made for rust, but has many warnings on it not to be used on this type of tile.

I spot the Kaboom, which claims (right there on the package) to work on rust, so I grab it.  I also grab the "Extra Power" Magic Eraser, seeing as the regular strength one made progress.  And on my way out, I nearly whack my head on the display of Krazy Koths, which again, right there on the package, say that they remove "Rust Stains from Tile."  I've got a Rust Stain on Tile.  I have no faith at all in the Krazy Kloth, but it's $5, so I figure to take one in the interests of science.

I figure to address the stain in increasing order of my confidence in the products.  Which means that Krazy Kloth is up first.  "Rub article to be cleaned with KRAZY Kloth then wipe with any untreated dry, soft cloth or paper towel."  Okey doke.  Now, the directions say it works without "rubbing and scrubbing."  No scrubbing = no results.  But when I did scrub away with that little dude, to my great surprise, I got this:

A marked improvement!  Stain is still visible, but, well, it actually looks like an effort has been made to clean it.  This puts the Krazy Kloth well ahead of the Clorox pen and Magic Eraser.

And speaking of Magic Erasers, I try the "Extra Power" one next.  Result:

Nada.  Looks exactly like it did before.  Extra Strength Magic Eraser jumps to the back of the line.

Finally, we apply the Kaboom Ultra Scrub.  Applying it took a little effort, as I did the whole "shake thoroughly" thing and then tried to "squeeze directly onto surface" only to discover there was a safety seal under the cap.  Removed cap, shook thoroughly, squeezed directly onto ... floor about a foot away from the stain.  That stuff flies out of the bottle.  OK, put it on stain, rub with sponge and ... hey, not bad.  Let's "repeat as necessary."  Result, after two shots of Kaboom:

Nearly gone.  OK, sure, you can still see some slight discoloration -- but I don't expect anyone to be looking that closely behind my toilet.  The goal here is to make the place look good enough for buyers, and I think I can now check "get rid of rust stain behind john" off the punch list.  Gold star for Kaboom Ultra Scrub!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More Eclectic Than I Thought

In this absence of new television, I'm turning to music for background entertainment while I do stuff.  So I cranked up one of my regular playlists on my computer, and left it alon--

What the hell?

I happened to notice the "Genre" column for each song.  And let me tell you, this thing thinks I listen to way more genres of music than I think I listen to.

OK, yeah, some of it is solidly correct.  The selections from "Wicked" find themselves labelled "Musicals/Broadway."  John Cougar and Melissa Etheridge are in "Folk Rock."  The Moody Blues are "Psychedelic Rock."  All legitimate category calls.

After that, it gets a little wonky.  A few other showtunes (from "A New Brain") are identified as coming from a "film soundtrack."  Which is wrong, but at least the right section of Tower Records.  It's better than tunes from the musical "Assassins," which find themselves in the "Latin" section for no apparent reason.

Selections from the Broadway "Lion King" are "Alternative."  While Spin Doctors, which is the only band I listen to that could conceivably take the Alternative label, are instead called "Funk Rock."

And although Eileen Ivers is properly labelled as "Celtic," selections from the "Lord of the Dance" recording -- which strikes me as equally Celtic -- have been declared to be only "Mood Music."  (Don't say that in front of Michael Flatley -- he'll come over and step dance all over your butt.)

I've got a lot of Rock, Rock & Roll, Classic Rock, Pop, and even a small venture into "Pop/Hair Metal."  All of which I can accept.  The unfortunate labelling of "Son of a Preacher Man" as "Easy Listening" took a little longer to get over.  Easy Listening?  I'm still in my 30s.  Don't send for the oxygen tanks yet.

But the worst thing ... the thing my grew-up-in-the-80s self will never get over ... is what happened when I uploaded a track or two from Duran Duran's Greatest Hits.  (You know, for the nostalgia value.)  And my music software promptly called it "Teen Pop."  Sob.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A truly momentous occasion

I'll be re-listing my condo.  Real soon.  Like, as soon as it's clean.

During last week's rains, there was some water ponding inside my fireplace wall.  The HOA Board was really on the ball and got someone to come out immediately and look at the roof -- they patched the bit around my chimney which they thought was leaking.  It rained some more the next day but I'm honestly not certain whether the patch worked -- it's hard to tell whether the water I saw in my wall was the same pre-patch water that just hadn't dried yet, or new post-patch water.  The HOA hired a rain leak expert to come out today.

Enter the rain leak expert, who is mad at us for patching the roof.



Apparently, he refuses to do any water testing unless he is certain that there is a leak that he'll find -- he won't water test just to verify whether a leak is patched.  So if we hadn't patched the roof, he would've water tested, diagnosed the leak, and told us what to fix.  But since we did patch the roof, the only way we can guarantee that our patches stopped my leak is to ...

(are you ready?)

... wait for it to rain again and see what happens.

Now, it does, in fact, rain in sunny Southern California, but not with any sort of regularity, even in winter.  In fact, it was in the 70s today, and the forecast is for clear skies as far ahead as they're willing to forecast, with no more than a 20% chance of wet stuff falling from the sky.

Time is a-ticking and I can't really wait around for the heavens to open and water test our roof.  So, y'know, screw it.  I'm relisting again, and will totally disclose the repair situation.  My real estate agent is down with this plan.

For the listing, I've decided to put together a list of all the improvements I've made to this place over the twelve or so years I've lived here.  (The unit next to mine is also on the market, so I am now preparing Operation: Make My Place Look Like a Way Better Deal Than Hers.  This is a very challenging proposition as I need to accomplish it without asking a lower price.)  Conveniently, I've kept receipts in a file folder labelled "home improvements," so making the list wasn't that hard to do. 

The math kinda took me back a bit.  I've put over $60,000 into improving this place.  It didn't seem like that much over time, but put all together on a single piece of paper, it's a fairly impressive sum.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Eddie Bauer Customer Service

I like Eddie Bauer.  I wear lots of Eddie Bauer stuff.

(Eddie Bauer has a lovely line of trousers that they refer to as the "Blakely" line, because apparently, the "Baby Got Back" line is a little too telling-it-like-it-is for them.)

I ordered a matching skirt and top.  On December 22nd.

I had them delivered to my office, as package delivery to my condo is generally chock full of surprises.

They didn't come.

I got another package from Eddie Bauer, which had been shipped later, but not the December 22nd package.

January 5, I check their website to check the status of my order.  Says "received."  I think this is odd.

I email.  I point out that the package has not, in fact, been received.

I get a reply.  It tells me that, under their system, the package should be received by January 7, and to write them back if I don't get it by then.

January 7, no package.

January 8, no package.

I email.  "Still no package," I say.

They write back.  Apologize.  Say that they've cancelled the order and will credit my card.  If I'd like to reorder, I can email back and they'll handle it for me.

I go to the website and reorder.  Except I can't, because they're out of the matching top, and the skirt won't do me a whole lot of good alone.

I email.  "Hey, um, I'd like to reorder, but you seem to be out of the top.  Would you nice people in customer service be able to recreate my original order?"

January 10, they write back.  "As you've requested," they say, "we've resubmitted your order.  Unfortunately, we're out of the top.  We'll send you the skirt, though.  We've charged your card.  The skirt is on its way."

Um.  (Did you read my earlier email?  The bit about, "hey, can you get me the top?")

I write back.  "Er, no.  Skirt with no top is useless.  Please cancel it again."

They do not write back.

January 11 -- the original package arrives.

(Oh no.  I've got to email and tell them to charge my card again.  The Mastercard people will probably have kittens.)


Hi all!

I just found out Lori, the guest editor at Magic Smoke, gave me a plug.  (Thanks!)

I feel as though some sort of introduction/apology is in order, as a reasonable amount of my entries over the past year are not the fun-filled adventures in cleaning cat barf that you might be expecting. 

(Although, the other day, my little ball of purr threw up on her food mat!  I love that cat.)

You see ... um ... I live in a condo.  As of last November I was trying to sell the condo.  As of last March, I wasn't.  Because there'd been an unfortunate leak incident.  Which lead to some unfortunate mold.  Followed by the unfortunate ripping out of my walls.  And the unfortunate inability of the people in charge of the project to find the source of the leak.  (Leaks, plural, actually.)  Followed by much unfortunate exchanges of words among me, the Board of the Homeowners Association, the management company, and the contractor.  To the extent that there was anything happy at all in this process, it was that, last month, the work was finally done!  And my living room was put back together!  This was followed (as recent entries reveal) in no particular order by the contractor actually breaking the bottom of my door on his way out, and the new leak we just discovered during last Friday's rains. 

So, yeah, the (apparently) never-ending attempt to get my condo ready to go back on the market (despite the slump in the housing market) has been somewhat on my mind lately.

But, please, take a look around, enjoy, and um ... oh, I got a package delivery one next....

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Speedy Reflexes

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a character is so quick she smoothly catches a falling teacup before it hits the floor.

In Count of Monte Cristo, the key is to be faster than raindrops fall.

I don't need to be that fast.  I just want my reaction time to fast enough so that, when the information first makes its way from my hand to my brain that, yes, that page is, in fact, giving me a papercut right on the top of my index finger, my body will immediately put into action the directive to stop pulling my hand down the side of that page.

It's extremely disappointing for your brain to be thinking, "Um, dude.  You're hurting yourself.  You might want to stop that," while, all the while, your hand just keeps right on doing the act, unable to stop.

(In other news, I am fascinated by my quasi-ability to type using my third finger in place of my index finger.  It isn't as hard as I'd thought, and it stops the cut from re-opening with every "t.")

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Well, it should be a word

Was playing Scrabble last night with some friends.  And we didn't have a dictionary on us, so whether something counted as an actual word was basically determined by whether we could convince the other people in the game that it was, indeed, a word.

So, the word "slabs" was on the board, and I had an "E" and an "N."  And I thought, "enslabs."

And then I start thinking... is that a word?

Should be a word.  No reason why it couldn't be a word.

You know, "enslab," verb.  To put in a slab.

I tried it out, but the group wasn't buying.  "Use it in a sentence," they said.

And without blinking, I said, "Han Solo was enslabed in carbonite."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Head ... meet wall

Where we last left my condo (with me still living in it) all the repairs were done except they'd broken the bottom of my door.

It has taken until yesterday for the contractor's guy to come and look at the door, attempt to fix it, decide he can't fix it, take measurements for a new metal thingy, and promise to install a new metal thingy.

He did the final bit of painting in my unit, too, so I was basically thinking ... OK, he'll install the new metal thingy on Monday, and then I can finally put my condo back on the market.

Except it rained last night.

And we found another problem.

There's water coming in my fireplace wall.  It's pooling inside the wall, making the paint bulge out a bit.  See?

That line really shouldn't be there.  It's cool and puffy and full of water.

And while I was emailing a member of the HOA Board about this problem, I got a call from my downstairs neighbor asking if perhaps, maybe, it was raining in my fireplace, as it was raining in hers.  Four little drips in the fireplace and one inside the wall.

(Oddly, the guy upstairs from me has experienced no fireplace/water difficulties.)

The HOA Board is, actually, all over this.  (I think everybody wants to put an end to our leaks as fast as possible.)  The management company is sending out a roof guy today; and one of the Board members has also independently got a roof guy to come out today -- one or both of whom should be placing tarps or sandbags or whatever around the chimney (because, right now, we've got a break in what was promised to be three or four days of rain, so now is the time to take action).  The Board President has also hired a Rain Leak Company, who will come out a week from Sunday (first available appointment) to identify the problem, and hopefully we'll get it fixed ASAP.

In the meantime, the puffy bit in my wall has gone down, but not completely disappeared, and I don't know if I'm going to have to do any more repairs before I can re-list for sale.

In the meantime, contractor's guy called me this morning (at 7:30!) and asked if he could come by today and work on the door. And I said sure, thinking that he'd bought the new metal thingy and would be attaching it -- so that at least THAT would be done.  No.  He was pulling at it with the claw part of a hammer trying to readjust it.  At one point, he made it largely stop scraping, but then he did more adjustments and it kept scraping again.  Then he started pounded with the hammer onto the metal track on the ground that it was scraping against (because, yeah, now I want big dents in the track under my door) and then he gave up and said if I'd bear with him until Monday, he'd fix it.  Seems that every time he adjusts it in one place, it rubs in another, so he's pretty sure my door is out of balance and he can take the door off the hinges and stick a shim in there and then my door would hang evenly and the little thing will stop scraping.  And I said, "This is an easier repair than just replacing the little thing?"  And he says yes.  And then he asks me if the door gives me problems other times.  And I say it sticks when it gets hot, but not at the bottom where we're experiencing the scraping now.  And he says that realigning the door will fix that, too.

And then I say, "what are you going to do about the metal thingy?" because now that he's been hammering and pulling at it, it looks like ... well, I actually told him what it looks like, but I think it's one of those words I'm not allowed to use in AOL-J.  And he said he'd smooth it out and repaint it.  And I looked at him all skeptical-like, and asked about a new one.  And he said, yeah, he could do that, it's a $15 part, and if he goes and gets one and reinstalls it just a smidge higher than the current one, it won't scrape.  (And I don't think he even has to install it higher, because the old one never scraped at all before his dude bent it, but I keep that to myself.)  And he says he can come back on Monday and stick the shim in the door and replace the metal thingy.

And I while I appreciate the efforts to rehang my door all nice and perfect-like, I have visions of twenty more things going wrong while he's making this gratuitous effort to leave things better than he found them.  So I tell him to forget about fixing the door and just replace the metal thingy that his guy broke.  Honestly, I'd be happy if he just left my door as good as when he found it.

... and I just had to go answer thedoor.  One of the Board members (Yay Sue!) said they were up on the roof patching what they thought the problem was.  And she also brought with her a handyman who wanted to see the damage to my fireplace wall so he could bid the repair and (assuming the patches on the roof hold over the next few days of rain) he'd start this week.

Deep breaths.  We might get this thing listed yet.

Friday, January 4, 2008


One thing from my first trip to Australia keeps haunting me.  And that's how caught up with the rest of the world Australians seemed to be, compared to, say, us.  I mean, when you're waiting in line at a restaurant, everyone was reading the newspaper.  For actual news, too, not just to celebrity goings-on.  Most Australians I came across knew a hell of a lot more about what was going on in America than most Americans I've come across know about Australia, and I got the distinct impression that they'd kick our butts on a head-to-head challenge about worldwide current events.

And this isn't really going to be a post bemoaning the general ignorance of Americans about the rest of the planet -- although that's clearly my hook.  I think what disturbed me the most wasn't so much our ignorance, but the fact that I don't think we're even aware of how ignorant we are.  I think that, at some point along the line, we bought into the whole "only remaining superpower" rhetoric and somehow thought this meant that everyone will look to us, and we don't really have to waste our time looking at them. 

And this rather depressing point about the relationship of Americans to the rest of the planet was brought to mind the other day by some rather stunning news about the show I've been watching on those British DVDs I recently acquired.

The show in question is a British show called Life on Mars.  It ran two seasons -- only 16 episodes -- but from what I can gather was quite successful.  (In Britain, they actually plan shows to run for a limited amount of time, rather than just assuming every successful show will continue indefinitely.  Man, imagine how good Twin Peaks would've been if they'd planned the damn thing to go only 16 episodes.  I digress.)  Here's what you need to know about Life on Mars -- it's a cop show.  (OK, I lie.  It's a cop show where a cop is minding his own business, gets hit by a car, and wakes up in 1973.  So you've got your modern day cop trying to get along in the world of Starsky & Hutch.  And then there's also added elements of how the hell did he end up in 1973, is he dreaming the whole thing, how's he going to get back, and so forth.)  ANYWAY, Life on Mars -- really excellent stuff. 

Someday, you will hear about Life on Mars, as it's apparently being worked on as a mid-season replacement by ABC -- although, like all TV things this season, that's rather up in the air.  But producer David E. Kelley (no slouch) has gone and got the rights to do an American version of the show. 

Ever since I discovered the original Life on Mars on BBC America, I've been trying to keep up with news about the American version, because, y'know, it'd be awfully nice if it was good.  But there's one piece of casting news that I read that I just can't get over.

Kelley attempted to hire the two stars of the British version to star in the American version.  With American accents.

Let's ponder this for a moment.  You've got a perfectly good British show.  You can:  (a) just air the damn thing on American television; or (b) ask the very same actors to do it all over again, except with scripts set in Los Angeles rather than Manchester, and could they use American accents please.

It boggles the mind.

OK, look, I understand that Mancunian (really -- that's the word) accents are not the easiest on earth to get attuned to.  And I know that Americans, as a rule, aren't entirely up on their rhyming slang.  But Kelley would rather remake the show in easier-to-understand American form, because he doesn't trust Americans to take the plunge to try to understand a British accent.  We're not talking about translating from a foreign language, here.  We're talking about English into English.  And Kelley thinks that Americans won't watch something that's not in American English, with American slang and idioms, and good old American accents.

And what kills me about the whole thing is that he's right.  We expect the rest of the planet to understand the programs we put out -- (can you imagine the BBC telling ABC, "Gee, we like Lost, but can we reshoot it with all the actors doing British accents?") -- but we wouldn't imagine that relationship working in the other direction.  There's a teensy bit of effort involved in understanding a new accent (about 30 minutes with the closed captioning on usually does it for me), and the Great American Viewing Public would rather wait around for someone to remake the show in easy to understand American accents than to go that effort and watch the original.

The original actors, John Simm and Philip Glenister,turned down the roles in the American remake.  The roles will instead be played by Jason O'Mara and Colm Meaney.  Both of whom are Irish.  And will be using American accents.