Saturday, February 14, 2009

Psych is Officially Genius

At the end of last week's episode of Psych, a commercial came on that seemed like a pretty standard horror movie trailer. It started with a shot of the entrance to a kids' summer camp, Camp Tikihama. I thought, where do I recognize that name from? Ah yes, it's the name of the summer camp that Shawn and Gus made up in the "Bounty Hunter" episode a season and a half ago; this must be the commercial for the new episode of Psych (it was).

What is Psych? Psych is a comedy/mystery show that airs on USA Network about Shawn Spencer, who uses his finely honed skills of observation to pretend to be a psychic (with his partner Gus and his psychic detective agency called Psych) and help the Santa Barbara Police Department solve crimes. Psych's genius has never come from taking cliché and turning it on its head. On the contrary, Psych's genius has always come from taking cliché head on at full speed and looking you straight in the eye while they do it. That, and a taste for complete and utter ridiculousness. And their obscurely relevant pop-culture references. OK, I'll stop.

This week's episode, written by series star James Roday, was a spoof of the Friday the 13th movies, airing on Friday the 13th, and titled..."Tuesday the 17th". Does it bother me that the camp Shawn and Gus made up is now the setting for an episode which features in its soundtrack the camp song the fugitive made up on the fly? Not a bit — the circle of obscure references is now complete. Also undimmed this week was the characters' penchant for obsessing over irrelevant trivialities, as evidenced by the closing lines from this week's episode:
Gus: "I'm sorry I ditched you and made a piñata with Jason Cunningham."
[Long pause.]
Shawn: "Apology accepted."
Don't worry. It was funny in context. For a taste of Psych, watch some of the recent episodes on the USA Networks web site, search Psych on YouTube, or watch this video, made to advertise the premiere of season 3:

In other news, I have been preparing for the second exam in my MCPD certification track. In working through the Microsoft study guide, it has been difficult for me not to set the book on fire. Repeatedly. It's not the major concepts that are being taught that I have a problem with, it's the examples they give of how to implement them. Here's one of the offending passages:
"When a user control is dropped onto a Web page, you always position it using some of the same techniques as you would use to position other controls using Flow Layout, such as placing the user control in an HTML table.

You'll soon find that you cannot position the user control using Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language (DHTML) to set the absolute positioning using the Style property because the user control does not automatically add an outer tag for the contents of the control that could be assigned a Style. You can set the positioning using DHTML if you add a Panel control to the Web page and place the user control into the Panel. This allows the Panel and its contents to be positioned."

Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Web-Based Client Development, pg. 398

Don't see the problems? Take a closer look. Certainly the ideas in this passage that are just wrong, wrong, wrong are not actually the concepts that are the main focus of the lesson, but if you're an expert writing a book, why recommend practices that are in no way even remotely "best"? What they recommend here is the equivalent of hanging up your shirt by nailing it to the bedroom door, when there is a perfectly good hook right there (or even if there isn't a hook, an acceptable second best could be hammering the nail into the door and then hanging the shirt on it). I dread the fact that someone somewhere (who will no doubt write code that I will have to see) could take the entire passage as best practice and then get a certification legitimizing his adherence to practices that are just wrong, wrong, wrong. Very wrong. And bad, very bad. So bad that I am reduced to a second grade vocabulary and filled with a desire to grab something hard and start hitting people with it. Or set the book on fire.

I'm just saying.

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Blogger The Blossers said...

rant par excellence

Friday, February 20, 2009 1:33:00 AM  

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