Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Girl and the Dragon

Once upon a time there lived a princess named Hannah. She had two princess sisters named Sarah and Grace. Hannah was the youngest so she was last in line to become queen. At that time, their mother, Queen Lynda and her father, King David were ruling their kingdom wonderfully. But one day later a dragon came to the land and laid an egg right next to the castle's pond.

Hannah was the first to find it. She knew what it was. She took it back to her room and made it a home. The egg did fine and in a month of taking care of it, it hatched. Hannah was as happy as could be when she saw the baby dragon. She took it to her sisters to show them her new pet.

Her sisters were amazed and jealous at the same time. Sarah was worried that the mother dragon would not like her baby being taken away from her. Grace just thought it was super cool. Then Hannah showed it to her parents and they loved it. Hannah decided to name him (They found out it was a boy.) David Jr. after her dad.

They loved each other very much. They lived happily ever after.


Sequels-- 1.) The Girl and Her Dragon, 2.) David Jr. Flight, 3.) The Last Scale

Series Name--A Dragon's Life

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Holidays from the Martins

It's been a busy, eventful, unpredictable year.
And we haven't had any time to put together any traditional, print Christmas card.
So, we've created this very video postcard to share with you.

Click on the link below to launch the video.

Christmas 2012

Here's hoping that your 2012 was grand and that 2013 will be a happy year for you as well. We are lucky and blessed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall TV Preview--SATURDAY

And now we come to the end of our blogging TV preview journey.And sadly, that journey ends with

As Dean already pointed out in his cable review, Saturday is a terrible day for television--unless you like college football. But college football doesn't last all year, so what are you going to do the rest of the year on this day? Here are some tips from me to you:

  1. Read more books--Back before television, people enjoyed reading to escape into imaginary worlds. If you don't know where to find books for free, find a local library near you.
  2. Get outside more--Similarly, you could enjoy the outdoors. Perhaps this Web site might give you help in finding parks that are available? (But my apologies if this information is out-of-date. Since parks are publicly funded, you never know when they might fall into disrepair and be unusable.) But if you can ride a bike to the potential park location, you'll get some outdoor exercise even if the final destination is not to your liking.
(And, yes, I'm aware that I need to follow my own advice more on this front.)

If you don't like these options, why not become a blogger? We can be digital friends and blog about the exciting lives we lead? You can filter your daily experiences through your mind, wondering if it might be something interesting to write about. And then you won't remember to write down those thoughts and you'll forget to set aside some time to write and then your new blog won't get used as much and . . . well, we can complain about it together.

So, find something interesting to do on a Saturday. It's not always about TV.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall TV Preview--FRIDAY

Apparently, ABC has a show on Friday night entitled Primetime: What Would You Do? Now, this could be ABC's plea for help to the viewing public about how to properly program one of the worst TV nights of the week. Or it could be some terrible reality show that doesn't cost lots and is therefore perfect for killing time on Friday night. Or it could be something entirely different. Entertainment Weekly didn't bother to write up a 20 word review of it in the print magazine, so I had to hold my breath and visit the network Web site in the hopes of finding out some information. (This, dear reader, is the level of effort I am willing to put in on your behalf . . . spending more than 30 seconds trying to understand a--most likely--terrible show that no one will watch on the night when hardly anyone bothers to watch TV.

So, here I go.

. . . searching . . .

All right . . . so it's a bit worse than I feared? According to the site, WWYD? (I'm disturbed at how similar its initials are to my blog. There, but for a letter and an interrobang, go I.) is a show that presents "thought" experiments. (And I put that word in quotation marks advisedly.) It sounds like a less fun game than my lunch mates and I sometimes play at lunch. I'll never watch it.

Andbutso . . . this intro bit turned into more than I wanted it to. FRIDAY! What shows are there worth watching on Friday? Is anyone going to watch shows on Friday?

Well, I will--for at least two reasons. The first reason, which has mainly been my reason for most Friday night viewing over the years is because I don't have a social life to worry about. I didn't then and I don't now. Sometimes Lynda and I will go out on a date, but Friday night most of the time is pizza, popcorn, kids movies--if they can agree upon one-- and then falling asleep on the couch. Whoo!

But over the years, I've loved some Friday shows. I believe Firefly was once on Friday nights. And there was, of course, The X Files. And now two of my favorites are also moved to this night to die--Community and Fringe.

If you pay attention to the media at all, you know of the travails of Community (10/19 @ 8:30 on NBC). The show has been on public life support since its first season. But NBC had no better option, I guess, than keep it around. Dan Harmon is a Brian Wilson-style tortured genius of a asshole that is hard to work with and finally Sony told him to shove off at the end of last year. The cast is still around (even Chevy Chase), but the question mark of what becomes of the show and its scatter shot tone? Will it be the Community that very few knew and loved? Everyone assures us that it won't be very different. But I guess the proof is in the chicken fingers, right? I'll be watching . . . and hoping it is good enough to satisfy. I very much doubt it'll make it beyond this 13 episode order.

And then there is Fringe (9/28 @ 9 on Fox). Thought it seems to be the only word I commonly say that is affected by my southern accent--such as it is. This is another show like Community that you are either for or against. It started, like The X Files, with a premise of trying to understand why weird stuff happened. And there was government investigation. And occasionally there was a whiff of conspiracy. But the show's center has been the relationship between John Noble's mad scientist Walter Bishop and his ripped-from-an-alternate-universe son Peter, played by Joshua Jackson. Walter is so smart, he can and often does do anything. And that anything might save the world or put the world in peril, depending on the week. But the parallel world that Walter has exploited in the past is always there for the writers to utilize for story. Sometimes it is an enemy and sometimes it is the solution to a problem. This final season's story arc leaves the modern day parallel worlds behind and leaps into a future existence that our heroes must navigate. I've enjoyed the show a lot and will keep watching all the way to the end. So, I recommend that you set your DVR to record this last year. And while recording, catch up on past seasons via Netflix or something. Its a fun ride.

And that is really all I want to say about Friday night programming. There are other shows on during this night--CSI: NY, Made in Jersey, Malibu Country, Blue Bloods, Whitney (ugh), Grimm, Touch, America's Next Top Model, or Nikita to name almost all of them.But I've never seen them and don't have an interest in them. Still, I've got to award the New Show Most Likely to Succeed on Friday Night haiku to something, don't I? And of those shows listed above, only Made in Jersey (9/28 @ 9 on CBS) and Malibu Country (11/2 @ 8:30 on ABC) are new. The former is, I guess something like Erin Brockovich + The Fighter. The latter is Reba, but in California rather than wherever Reba was set.

And so, I choose . . .
Malibu Country
This show must be what
Hannah Montana would be
if sent through wormhole.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall TV Preview--THURSDAY


 As the TV week creeps towards the end and the ratings decline, what is there to expect on Thursday nights? Is it a night of drama, comedy, or reality? New challengers or old favorites? Which network has the best chance at success on the last night of the TV week that really means anything?

NBC has the least  change in its lineup this night, but that doesn't mean it is settled. Given how unsuccessful NBC has been in ratings over the last several years, its frankly amazing that some of these shows are still around. But--as Nixon once said--you won't have them to kick around much longer. 30 Rock (10/4 @ 8 pm) ends its many years of quality and success with one more dip into the crazy that is TGS. Will we learn that it's all been a dream of Liz and Jack while they drift off to bed after intercourse? (That most surprising sentence ever written on WWYG?! would be pretty remarkable if it turned out to be true . . . which it won't be.) Up All Night (9/20 @8:30) gets another shot for its second season, but many things about the show are different.The talk show is no more and so the tone of the show also changes. But don't think Maya Rudolph's Oprah clone is gone. She's likely to be weirder than ever though. And Parks and Recreation (9/20 @ 9:30 & 9/20 @ 9) are also back. But, I don't watch these shows so I won't say much about them here. I know people love Parks & Rec . . . but I've never given it a fair chance. I don't really have a good reason. Maybe it's because I've never really cared about Saturday Night Live? If you are outraged, put all your venom in comments.

What am I looking forward to on this night of TV? I'll renew my acquaintance with The Big Bang Theory (9/27 @ 8 on CBS) and keep scrolling on my phone while sort of keeping an eye on Glee (9/13 @ 9 on Fox). But I am most interested in two other shows that are familiar . . . but not.

First there is Beauty and the Beast (10/11 @ 9 on The CW) which attempts to revive a strangely popular show from my youthful 80s childhood. But it won't have Ron Pearlman or Linda Hamilton. It'll have some dude named Jay Ryan and . . .  gulp . . . my old Smallville nemesis Kristin Kreuk in the title roles. I can say with certainty that I won't be watching this show at all. But I'll keep an ear open to hear what others are saying about it.If this show was airing on ABC, I'd insert some joke here about how this show's revival was done only to achieve synergy with network's owner. But that isn't the case.So, I can only fall back on the notion that America's creativity is well and truly bankrupt.

The other show, however, is probably one I will watch--at least to try out. Elementary (9/27 @ 10 on CBS) is not a gritty drama about the rough underbelly of preschool in New York City. (Why hasn't someone tried that concept yet?) Rather, it is a new version of Sherlock Holmes.(Sadly . . . no, not THAT Sherlock.) But like that--infinitely better--version, it is a modernized spin on the World's Greatest Detective. (No, not that world's greatest detective.) Jonny Lee Miller (a Brit, don't worry) plays the guy in the deer-hunter cap and Lucy Liu plays Watson.

What . . . huh?

Yep. As anyone who pays any attention to TV knows, the big twist in Elementary is that Watson is a girl! And everyone swears that there won't be any love interest brewing between Miller's Sherlock and Liu's Watson. And that's fine, as the BBC version of the show is already famous for its homoerotic watercolors on Tumblr. But my love of the BBC show has made me ready to embrace this version of the show, so I'll watch it. And I hope it does well enough.

And because it is the new show I am most interested in seeing--and I'm not going into all the Thursday night shows--I'm awarding the New Show Most Likely to Succeed on Thursday Night to Elementary.

Yes, my dear Watson.
This show isn't the B___ in
221B Baker . . .

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall TV Preview--WEDNESDAY

 The middle day of the television week is a study in two philosophies. CBS, Fox, and The CW are focused on dramas and hour-long programming while  NBC and ABC are placing an emphasis on comedies with some drama in the later hours. ABC is bringing back a lot of its comedies from last season while NBC has lots of new offerings. The CW tries to recapture some Smallville magic and CBS isn't breaking what (apparently?) doesn't need fixing.

I'll start by coldly and decisively dismissing Animal Practice (9/26 @ 8 on NBC) as the show I'll love to hate and will never, ever watch, even if you put a gun to my head. Even though it has Tyler Labine (who I enjoyed on Reaper), the show prominently features animals--and NOT just because it's set in an animal hospital. I can't stand animal actors--ever since . . . well, ever. And this shows has the potential to be aggressively bad. It's like if they took the worst concepts of J.D. fantasy imaginings on Scrubs and tried to make a whole show around it.

Awful . . . okay?

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Guys with Kids (9/12 @ 8:30 on NBC) was produced by Judd Apatow's company and originated as a discarded storyline for one of his recent movies. It just has that sort of feel to it. But I'm not enough of an Apatow fan to watch.

I'll hit CBS's entire Wednesday lineup--Survivor: Philippines (9/19 @ 8), Criminal Minds (9/26 @ 9), and CSI (9/26 @ 10) in four words: Been. There. Done. That.

Fox's Wednesday offering is focused solely and completely on The X Factor (9/12 @ 8 . . . until 10). I guess Simon Cowell is hoping that the addition of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato will keep this show interesting. And considering how reliable those two singers/stars have been . . . well, um . . . I guess Americans just won't stop loving reality singing competitions, will they?

The new ideas at ABC are The Neighbors (9/26 @ 9:30, shifting to 8:30 thereafter). Aliens living incognito in Suburbia. Is this a rejected Men in Black IV script? I'll pass. But you may want to flip back to ABC for Nashville (10/10 @ 10), which stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere as waning and waxing country music stars relying up and competing with each other. It is likely to be a.) well acted, b.) provide popular musical drama (a la Glee but aimed at Mom & Dad), and c.) be successful.I recommend it, even if I probably won't watch it.

The CW, however, knows what may interest me--because it took note of the fact that I was one of only twelve people in the continental United States that actually watched every episode of the ten seasons of Smallville. And so, The CW is very much hoping that I am stupid enough to hitch my wagon to Arrow (10/10 @ 8) even though the titular character (superhero Green Arrow aka Oliver Queen) isn't being played by Smallville's Justin Hartley. And, yeah, I'll probably join in and watch. Maybe it won't be any good. But if I don't give it a try, no one will know if it is good at all.

So . . . here is my dilemma tonight. Do I award the New Show Most Likely to Succeed on Wednesday Night to Arrow or to Nashville? One is more in my television wheelhouse of crap and the other is much more likely to be worth of success. Do I go with my gut or my brains?

Drama aplenty,
whether in song or in tights.
Too close to call . . . y'all. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall TV Preview--Dean's Cable Review

 [My buddy and coworker Dean submitted his opinions on Cable TV, so here is his take on the non-network (mostly far superior) offering of shows. Take it away, Dean!]


OK, so some of these shows are already airing. Very few of these shows are actually new. Cable is a
weird beast, but I was given this opportunity and as a TV aficionado, I must give you the opportunity to
watch as much good TV as possible.


Sunday is premium cable’s night to shine. This fall HBO is bringing back Boardwalk Empire and Treme.
  • Boardwalk Empire (HBO): This is a fine show, but somewhat of a slow burn. It’s easy to get frustrated at the pacing, so maybe save a couple of episodes and burn them off all at once.
  • Treme (HBO): This is also a slow burn, but a brilliant one. Watch it and get lost in the music and people of post-Katrina New Orleans. Also: David Simon is one of the two TV creators who I would watch whatever they produce (the other is David Milch, who I sincerely hope comes back to TV after the unfortunate events that caused Luck to be canceled).
  • Dexter (Showtime): Stop watching Dexter people! It was a good show for two seasons and now is a shuffling zombie of mediocrity. My wife still likes it though.
  • The Thick of It (Hulu): I really like Armando Iannucci. It’s gotten a lot of awards from the Brits for comedy. If you watched Veep and liked it, you’ll probably find this just as good.
  • Hell On Wheels (AMC): Confederate soldier builds railroads in the west while hunting for the Northerners who killed his wife. I’ve heard good things about it, but I’d rather just rewatch Deadwood. 
  • The Walking Dead (AMC): It’s about Zombies. Do you like things about Zombies? What about shows with horrible pacing problems? This show might be for you.
  • Copper (BBC America): A cop show set in turn of the century New York brought to you by BBC America. This show has some problems, but is reasonably enjoyable. Watch it while waiting for the better shows to come back.
  • Homeland (Showtime): I don’t have Showtime but if I did, I would watch this. Everything I’ve read says it’s great. Plus: Mandy Patinkin is on it and that would give me the opportunity to quote The Princess Bride at length.
  • Leverage (TNT): A caper show about a group of criminals doing good deeds against bad guys. It’s ridiculous and cheesy and great.


  • Adventure Time (Cartoon Network): A human boy and his shapeshifting dog go on adventures in what appears to be Earth after some sort of apocalypse. I have been unsuccessful in my exhortations in getting people to watch this show, but really--it is your loss. I refuse to waste any more breath on this (but seriously: I know good TV and I know what to recommend to who. You should listen to me.) [Hey Dean, shhh . . . don't tell my wife, but I'm slowly cracking and might start watching this when she's not around.] 
  • Regular Show (Cartoon Network): A raccoon and a blue jay work in a park. Weird stuff happens. Mark Hamil is an immortal Yeti named Skips. You want to skip this show? As you wish.
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo): I would be remiss if I did not mention everyone’s favorite show about Drag Queens competing to be the best. I don’t actually watch it, but I know everything about it thanks to Brie.
  • The Inbetweeners (MTV): I haven’t seen the BBC version and I won’t be watching this version. Watch the original, MTV is a mess.
  • Alphas (Syfy): My research on this show involved going through the grades on the AV Club. They were mostly Bs. So: A B quality science fiction show about “A group of people with special powers complete missions for the government.” My friend Sam [and me!] insists its good, so it’s got that going for it.


  • 30 For 30 (ESPN): ESPN presents a series of films by accomplished directors on a variety of sports topics. There are now well over 30 films, but they keep using that number. I do not think it means what they think it means.
  • Sons of Anarchy (FX): Kurt Sutter was one of the main writers on The Shield (which has the best series finale out of any show I’ve ever seen. I implore you to watch it) and for that I will always love him. But…this show, you guys. It’s good, but it’s frustrating. So . . . so . . . frustrating. The Shield would put itself in a corner and then blow up the corner and everyone in it. Sons will write itself into a corner and then shrug and pretend the corner never existed. So watch it, the first two seasons are as good as anything on TV right now. It’s better than Dexter.


  • American Horror Story (FX): This is a whole new story from last year. Now it takes place in an Asylum. I hope there is a Sicilian in the Asylum. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. [Should I count that as the first or the second Princess Bride joke of this post?] 
  • The Hour (BBC America): I tried to get into this because McNulty from The Wire is on it. It didn’t grab my attention but it might hold yours.
  • South Park (Comedy Central): If I have to explain the plot of this show to you, you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time. If you’ve been living under a rock might I advise catching up on other aspects of the world instead of watching TV? Maybe write a book about your time living under said rock? I would read it.


If Sunday is the day for premium dramas, Thursday is the day for cable comedy. Louie and Wilfred (FX)
are finishing up their seasons soon. Children's Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV:: (Cartoon Network) are both
good spoofs of network genres.

  • It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX): This show is getting older, but the gang still knows how to keep things fresh. Not for the easily offended.
  • The League (FX): Do you like fantasy football? No? This show is hilarious regardless. Watch it. Shivakamini Somakandarkram! (You would get that if you watched the show.)
  • Project Runway (Lifetime) is also on. It is not a comedy, at least not intentionally. This show is also getting old. It has not aged gracefully. Every night Lifetime comes into Project Runway's room and tells it “Good night, I will probably kill you in the morning.” Every morning it spares it. This is not a mercy. [All right. I'm going to count that as joke #3.]


David will say this for the Network review, but watch Community (NBC). Even though its creator and the
driving force behind the show is no longer affiliated with it, the cast is so talented that I have faith in the
future direction of the show. Besides. NBC gets such low ratings it could easily be confused as a cable
channel anyways.

  • Gravity Falls (Disney): A cartoon Twilight Zone/Eerie Indiana-ish style show that uses monsters as a metaphor for growing up. It’s really good. If you have kids they might like it. You might like it too, it’s really good.
  • Hunted (Cinemax): Cinemax is trying to get into the HBO, Showtime, axis of good premium cable shows, but doing it on Friday instead of Sunday. It could work. I don’t know what this show is. Watch it or not. Whatever.
  • Strike Back (Cinemax): Sex and Violence and a good story. Inconceivable!? It’s Cinemax, what did you think you were going to get? [You tried to sneak joke #4 past me, but I saw what you did there.] 
  • Boss (Starz): Kelsey Grammer runs the city of Chicago. How you feel about that determines if you should watch this show.


  • College Football (ESPN, BTN, others): Do you like college football? If you do you probably didn’t need to be reminded of this. If you don’t, then this blurb holds no interest to you. Why am I typing this then? Because I know something you don’t know: I’m not left-handed. (switches typing hands). [I actually saw that one coming as I read the sentence.] 
  • Doctor Who (BBC America): Note this is not Dr. Who, it is Doctor Who. Never abbreviate Doctor Who or the Weeping Angels will come for you. If you have any interest in Science Fiction TV shows you need to watch Doctor Who. Don’t start on this season though. Start with the 9th Doctor. [I am a new convert to this show . . . finally. I'm starting the second season of the 10th Doctor and I agree with Dean wholeheartedly on this one. If you like science fiction at all and can't find something to like about this show, you're probably mostly dead. That's #1 for me.]
Saturday is a wasteland otherwise. Go outside and hang out with your family.

[Excellent and nicely comprehensive work Dean. You can come back and guest blog for me anytime.]

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall TV Preview--TUESDAY

It's a Saturday, but I'm writing about Tuesday. I'm sure you can keep up with me here. I am not the one taking Grace to her early morning softball game today, so I have a bit of time to try and catch up. Yesterday the family went to Grace's start-of-year get together at Emerson Elementary, so I didn't have as much time to write the next day's Fall TV Preview post. But the time at the school was interesting--especially the lady DJ spinning semi-wildly inappropriate tunes from the 1980s and Today (with no censoring!) for the elementary ears. Lynda, I, and the other parents we were talking with had a few eyebrow raises . . . but the music was fun to embarrassingly dance to.

But . . . all that fun got in the way of my keeping the string of consecutive posts alive. (Well, who are we kidding really. I could have written last night, but I chose to watch Doctor Who instead.) But I'm NOT watching him now, so without any further preamble . . .

Tuesday, Tuesday, what can I say about Tuesday?


A quick glance at the lineup shows me that I habitually watch none of the CBS shows on that night. (Two versions of NCIS and Vegas. "Vegas is still on?" I think as I glance at the title. "If that show was on NBC, it would have disappeared by now." Similarly, I don't watch any of the NBC shows either . . . but I will have something more to say on that in a moment. On Fox, I recognize New Girl and admit to looking forward to its second season return (9/25 @ 8 on Fox). ABC also has no shows I have watched in the past and neither does The CW.

What did I do on Tuesday nights in the past? This is perplexing me. Did I only watch New Girl and then catch up on recorded stuff from previous days? Surely there wasn't a day where I didn't watch TV, right? Am I getting old enough to simply start forgetting things?

Who cares, anyway? That was the past and we're focused on the Now--or the immediate, onrushing Soon. So, what will I be thinking about on Tuesday this year?

I'll be thinking negatively about Go On (9/11 @ 9 on NBC), but not because I watched it's second premiere episode this week. I just don't think it'll be that good. Matthew Perry is alright and everything, but he had his decade of millions in the sun and now he should just go away for fifteen years until he's gray and old and had thoroughly shed his sweater-vest, quipster past (let ME have that Matthew!). Then he can take over the old man with dignity roles that Alan Alda currently won't let go of. But that is for the Distant Future. Currently, Matthew Perry is still delivering his mixture of nice guy + funny guy to a bunch of diverse misfits. And I'm just not into it. NBC needs to do better and I don't really know what to tell them. But this show feels more like it was created via Focus Group interaction and now based on good, creative thinking. (Plus, the typography of the show title often looks like the word "goon." Not a good mnemonic to have.)

Now, there are some shows that might be worth watching this night. If I had to pick, I guess I'd go with maybe Ben and Kate (9/25 @ 8:30 on Fox) or Raising Hope (10/2 @ 8 on Fox) or . . . potentially The New Normal (9/10 @ 10 on NBC) or The Mindy Project (9/25 @ 9:30 on Fox).

What are my rationales for these potential suggestions? Okay, here you go:
  • I've read one or two promising things about Ben and Kate, a show about a brother and sister pairing who are dealing with the raising of Kate's young baby. It'll likely feel a lot like Will and Grace because they totally love each other, get on each other's nerves, will have NO option of romantic tension (ohhh, but WHAT IF THEY DID, you guys!?), and have to take care of a squalling immature baby . . . kind of like Jack!
  • People I trust tell me that Raising Hope is a good show. So if any of them want to weigh in through comments below . . . go for it. Convince me to watch!
  • The New Normal has gotten lots of post-Olympics hype (as opposed to Go On, which only got during-Olympics hype). Most of the hype seems to be centered on the madcap nature of the show; its willingness to skewer convention--gays! Lucille Bluth-style racism! quirky kid!; and the presence of Ryan Murphy. (Ryan Murphy is the non-thinking man's J.J. Abrams!) Murphy is responsible for Glee and American Horror Story, so The New Normal might give you anything. But, it feels like a safer, more middle-of-the-road offering. And that may mean that it just doesn't capture attention. We live in a world where extremes make ratings. Because we can find anything on any device at any time. So new things need to be a.) out-of-the-gate outrageous, b.) safely bland for the Flyover Crowd, c.) unshaking, uncompromisingly well-made and acted. If The New Normal hits any of these options, it'll be option b. But I'm just not sure. (And to be honest here, I kind of picked it for comment because it has the temerity to be a 30 minute sit-com airing at 10 pm. THAT'S thinking outside the box, people.)
  • The Mindy Project is a show that I probably should say nothing about. I don't watch The Office, so I don't have any sort of allegiance to the star Mindy Kaling.But she's a young actress getting to work on her own after being in an ensemble for years. She's firmly in charge of this show's vision. She wrote on The Office and wasn't just an actor. She's got thoughts man. For some reason, I think she could be a bit like Tina Fey some day? And besides . . . NBC passed on this show and Fox snatched it up really quickly. So that means it's probably pretty good. (I could run NBC right now, you guys.)
And so, which new show wins today's award for New Show Most Likely to Succeed on Tuesday Night? I'm going to pull Ben and Kate out of a hat and go with that one.

Ben and Kate
Dakota Johnson
stars as Kate. She's not a Fanning.
Hope baby is cute.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall TV Preview--MONDAY

The start of the work week used to be less of a challenging TV watch day for me, but then a few years ago, I started watching more shows on BBC America. Specifically, I got into Top Gear, a British car show that is mostly fun and very specifically centered on cars, horsepower, turn radius, and stuff I could care less about. But it also features fun stunts with cars and very intriguing road trips to exotic, remote locations where the hosts and their cars are pushed to TVgenic limits. So, that became an hour of my Monday that was new.

What isn't new on Monday is How I Met Your Mother (9/24 @ 8 on CBS), which is beginning its eighth season.
  • Is it still a good show? (Sometimes.) 
  • Will it ever live up to the unique promise of the first 1 and a half seasons? (No.) 
  • Are the actors on the show getting too big for their roles? (In the case of Jason Segal, Neil Patrick Harris, and Cobie Smulders . . . an unqualified yes; in the case of Allison Hannigan--she was bigger than her role from day one due to her Buffy fame; in the case of Josh Radnor, no . . . even though he just wrote and directed a full length film called Liberal Arts. You can't outperform "Ted Moseby, sex architect.)
Another show that is not new for Monday is Castle (9/24 @ 10 on ABC). The game of Will They/Won't They between Stana Katic's Beckett and Nathan Fillion's Castle was resolved with a They Will at the end of last season. This is always a ticklish problem for shows that rely on chemistry and tension between their male and female costars. Most always collapse under the resolution. But this show has always relied a lot on the details of the weekly crime and the fun of Fillion. Hopefully those things won't evaporate.

What else is there to think about on Monday--that isn't on cable? Well, if you don't want to watch the NFL on ESPN, you could get into Dancing with the Stars (9/24 @ 8 on ABC) or The Voice (9/10 @ 8 on NBC). But I'm not a fan of much reality TV so I'll not be stopping by for those items.

I sort of feel that Gossip Girl (10/8 @ 9 on The CW) and 2 Broke Girls (9/24 @ 9 on CBS) are somehow linked though the premise of the two shows are clearly very different. And, I've never watched either one of them. (Maybe it is the excess of makeup on the female characters that I see in commercials that creates a link in my mind? Maybe . . .)

I'm most intrigued by the new show Revolution (9/17 @ 10 on NBC), which is most likely the highest concept show of the new season. You probably saw the commercials if you watched the Olympics back in August. The show is set in a post blackout United States where people are trying to rebuild civilization, find loved ones, defeat clans, and not make you think of Mad Max. I wasn't sold at first on the idea of the show . . . but then I saw that Giancarlo Esposito was involved . . . and then I found out that J.J. Abrams was one of the executive producers. Well, that was all I needed to hear. Even though I was sort of worried to read quotes that suggested Revolutions was "Game of Thrones against an American backdrop" (puhleaze), I have plenty of faith in Abrams to bring the intrigue, the mystery, and the drama for a good, intriguing show. I have always been proud that I latched onto LOST from the beginning with no real idea of what the show was going to be about. It was a super fun ride, and I hope this show might possibly provide something like that as well.

And so, I am awarding Revolution my pick as the new show most likely to succeed on Monday night. And, as I did yesterday, the winning show is enshrined in my TV preview Hall of Haiku Fame.

Black-out, Abrams, stop.
A world of intrigue and Gus.
Will it be a hit?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall TV Preview--SUNDAY

The Setup: Over the years, I've organized my Fall TV preview posts most often by network. But this year, I think I'll simplify things a bit and break down my thoughts by Day of the Week.
As I've done in past years, I'm going to go big picture here and only write about the mainstream networks and their shows. I'll probably only spend the bulk of my time on the new shows, as that is what is most interesting to think critically (or snarkily) about.
(If you aren't interested in watching Community there is very little that I can type to sway you at this point, right. And--full disclosure--I was part of that uninterested camp as recently as about 18 months ago.)
I focus on Network TV also because the cable universe is simply too big for me to keep up with anyway. And I don't have premium cable where many of the best, best shows are found. And their season is often not tied to the traditional September to May releases of the past. And because I've locked down my colleague Dean (of You Are a Bad Driver and I Hate You fame) to, once again, present his thoughts on the variety of cable options he likes best.

So . . . onward--

What can I say about Sunday's TV? Well, it is still primarily dominated by football during the prime time hours, thanks to NBC's Football Night in America. I won't deny that I watch the show now and then. Football is occasionally pleasant to watch if I don't anything else going on. But, in recent years, Sunday night has been a cable-dominated AMC night for me. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead (10/14 @ 9 on AMC). None of those shows are on right now, so I won't be talking about them . . . or I'll leave it to Dean.

What is there to think about on Sundays?

Naturally, The Simpsons (9/30 @ 8 on Fox) is like the vampire show that simply won't die. But I get the feeling that everyone kind of wishes it would. It can still be clever, but it won't ever be as sharp as it was ten years ago. And for the majority of those great years, I wasn't watching. And thought I try to use my DVR scheduler to catch up on some things, it usually only records shows from this past season. A far cry from what might have been. Still, watching a 21st season of Homer and company is better than watching The Amazing Race (9/30 @ 8 on CBS). (Or watching any "local programming" that The CW might possibly be able to find.)

You might be surprised that I"m not a watcher of Once Upon a Time. (9/30 @ 8 on NBC) It has fantasy elements and some of the writers are connected to the LOST writing stable. But I didn't get involved last year in season 1 and I think I'm just going to stay away.

Speaking of LOST, however, there IS the intriguing new show 666 Park Avenue (9/30 @ 10 on ABC). It's connection to my favorite mystery island is one of its best actors, Terry O'Quinn. The former John Locke is now performing as the owner of a fancy Manhattan apartment building that is . . . evil? Haunted? Satanic? Misunderstood? Also featuring (former Miss America) Vanessa Williams?

The last part, at least, is confirmed. It seems that this show might be a little bit of Fantasy Island muddied up with some of the vibe that made American Horror Story so popular last year. But since its on mainstream networks, it won't be nearly as creepy/kinky/bat-shit crazy as AHS was. (Full disclosure: I watched the pilot episode, was a bit weirded out by it and didn't go back.) And so it'll probably be a bit too watered down to make much of an impact. Still, its 10 o'clock time slot means it'll only have to compete with a.) your early local news, b.) the meaningless end of the nightly football game, and c.) The Mentalist (9/30 @ 10 on CBS). And until Mad Men and Breaking Bad return, it should face that much competition.

So I'm awarding it my pick as the new show most likely to succeed on Sunday night.This is a new feature I'm adding to my Fall TV previews. And I'll award each night's winner with a special haiku dedicated only to the glory of it.

666 Park Avenue
Satan's number is
a promise of things to come?
not like Hurley's, please? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Home beer brewing (because Tom asked me to)

Here's another in the newly created series . . . You Asked for It!

My colleague and once-time left-handed tennis partner Tom asked me to write about home beer brewing.

Credit: Wikipedia
Sadly, I have zero experience in this field, so I can only break down the components of his suggestion and tackle those to see what I can come up with.

A. I've never tried to make beer at home, but I have been known to drink beer at home. What sort of beer, you might naturally ask? Lots of different kinds. I've never been the sort of person who settles on one beer and drinks that to the exclusion of other choices. I like variety and I like to experiment with different kinds of beer.

Here are the brands that I have liked the most in recent years. Sorry, but these probably won't turn out to be terribly exotic. I'm not that creative.

  • There was a time when I was big into Molson. Some people say that Canadians are especially devoted to beer, but maybe that is just me remembering the McKenzie Brothers from my youth. Still, I liked the taste of Molson Light well enough and I've always found the Canadian maple leaf aesthetic to be a pleasing logo in a variety of contexts.
  • When Lynda and I visited San Francisco for our 10th wedding anniversary years ago, I drank Anchor Steam beer for the first time. I liked the taste and I especially liked the distinct bottle shape and labeling. Anchor Steam isn't found in every grocery store around here, but I have reliably found it in Giant Eagle and if I'm in a beer drinking mood that also combines with a hankering for nostalgia, I usually spend the extra $1.50 to take a drink down memory lane.
  • Samuel Adams beers are easy to find, so I often pick them. I especially like to get their variety packs and also like their autumn and winter seasonal beers. I don't usually go for a regular old Sam Adams Light, but there is nothing wrong with that either.
  • Speaking of seasonal tastes, during the summer I like the Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy beer on a hot day when I might be spending time outside for a cookout. The strong lemon flavor is a good choice.
  • Finally . . . lately I've been enjoying the Magic Hat Elder Betty beer. It's a quirky name and the flavor is interesting. It might just be my latest experiment, but its a good one--for now.
B. Secondly, when I think of home brewing, I think of bathtub gin. I've never made (or tasted) that, but I have used my bathtub for unconventional means.

Back in my high school band days, I'd occasionally commandeer the bathtub at home to clean my French horn.
 This is something you have to do every now and then--fill up the tub with water, pull all the slides out of the horn body, unscrew the valve covers, let soak. Then you take everything out to drain, dry off, reapply slide grease to the tubing, add new valve oil, etc.

If you are in a really industrious mood (or if you had a concert coming up, you might follow this maintenance up with a bit of silver polish and buffing to make the newly cleaned instrument shine and look impressive.

Where is my F-horn now? Down in the basement, awaiting the day I decide to drag it out and find how few notes I can still play.

Anyway, Tom . . . there's my answer to your suggested writing prompt. Thanks for the input and I hope you learned something new.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts On Evil (because Tracy asked me to)

Sometimes when you ask the Internet for help, you get back answers you weren't expecting.
But here goes . . .

What is evil? Some would say that evil is this:
Credit: cowcaholic, on Deviant
But, I try to remember that he once began as a lonely, abandoned boy in an orphanage. Or some might say that evil is more closely related to this guy:
Credit: Lucasfilm, &
 But . . . he too was an abandoned boy who didn't get all the help he needed and was given the wrong tutelage by the wrong people.

(And then, there is this version of him, which might be evil or hilarious, depending on your particular point of view.)

And for some other people, maybe this is the most evil thing of all.
Credit: Diet of Worms
Maybe you don't like this style of painting. Maybe you don't like Godzilla. Maybe you're not in favor of Godzilla unleashing its wrath upon this simple hut bathed in such beautiful light. But is Godzilla being evil here? Can we truly know what is in Godzilla's mind?

As one of my favorite YA authors suggests, we need to try and imagine others complexly and accept the fact that life resists simplicity. So, I'm not sure about the true nature of evil. Even that "legitimate rape" dude isn't evil . . . he's just terribly misinformed and perhaps willfully ignorant and misguided. In our fevered media culture all of our positions must be rock solid and we must all be true believers. That rigidity is dangerous, certainly. Counterproductive, absolutely. But even that is not evil.

Maybe evil is focused, determined selfishness. An unwillingness to consider that our actions have consequences outside of ourselves . . . to fail to notice that we are not the center of any universe, not even our own personal ones that we wrap up in every day. There are others--people who struggle with their own problems. And we can help them if we are willing to imagine that their lives are just as worthy of consideration as ours. To refuse to do that is evil.

Thoughts From Park Benches

Every day I leave the office; every day I take some work task(s) to do. This is because I do have that much work to do now (& upcoming) that continuing it at home is a good idea. I also take it home as a backup, in case there is an unexpected sick child, a doctor's appointment, or something else that might demand I have productive options available.
Still, I don't usually do it. Either because I don't want to, or because I'm otherwise occupied with chaperoning kid activities after school. (Lots of softball happening in the next five weeks.)
But I always feel a little bad about the lack of extra effort. (Though I know I'm staying on task at work. There's just lots to do.)
Truthfully, my perspective has broadened as I've aged into this job. I know that all the hard work in the world won't always translate into completely smooth project. There are just so many other things out of my influence that I just have to roll with the daily ins-and-outs.
There is comfort in knowing--even if it also serves as justification.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Through the Years

Tomorrow begins another year of school for Sarah and Grace. I'll add another photo to the list of their first days . . . as they grow older, more able, more prepared to walk out that door for the first time--for real.

Sarah entering Kindergarten in August 2005
First day of 1st Grade for Sarah in August 2006

Sarah entering 2nd Grade in August 2007
First day of Kindergarten for Grace in September 2008

Sarah in 3rd Grade in September 2008

First day of 4th grade for Sarah in August 2009

First day of 1st Grade for Grace in August 2009

Grace in 2nd Grade in the Fall of 2010
Sarah in 5th Grade in the Fall of 2010

Grace at the end of 2nd Grade and Sarah at the end of 6th Grade in June 2011

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Re: The Chik-fil-A Controversy

Photo Credit: LA Times
I have a long history of enjoying Chik-fil-A's sandwiches. We didn't have any stores where I grew up in Tifton, Georgia. (Tifton didn't have a fancy mall--which was the only place you used to be able to find Chik-fil-A . . . back before they began expanding into stand-alone stores.) The closest Chik-fil-A to my hometown was 45 minutes away in Albany. As a boy, I usually went to Albany only to make my semi-annual visit to the orthopedic surgeon that oversaw my leg surgeries and therapies. I asked Mom if we could eat lunch at the Albany Mall so that I could have my favorite chicken sandwich after the doctor's visit. The chance to eat their chicken sandwiches as a special treat.

Now I can get a Chik-fil-A sandwich whenever I choose. (Note that I've tried the McDonald's "Southern" chicken sandwich and it is a pale pretender to the delicious flavor of the original Chik-fil-A offering.) But I am NOT going to go to Chik-Fil-A for lots of reasons.

1. I don't agree with Mr. Cathy's religious views on homosexuality.
2. I would rather he didn't use his resources to actively slow the efforts to improve the civil rights of homosexuals in the United States.
3. I don't want to support the corporation Mr. Cathy heads, in an effort to make my own small statement about what I believe is a discriminatory point of view.

I also know that most of the franchise owners of Chik-fil-A restaurants are individual owner/operators and are only tangentially connected to Cathy's corporate structure. Still, I think a statement can be made.

I am saddened and dismayed by the outpouring of "support" that this past Wednesday's Chik-fil-A Appreciation Day and what I think that continues to demonstrate about the state of equality in our country. Many people say that they stood in line to support free speech, but I believe that the free speech being supported discriminated against a "different" group of American citizens.

I stand for the notion that everyone deserves equality. The push of history will eventually bear me out, I think. The kid in my memories misses the taste of those sandwiches, but I, like our culture, have changed since then.

I would like it to change a little bit faster.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy 12th Birthday!

(Party Month is now officially over for another year.)

Is there something special about number twelve? I seem to remember it being so for me all those years ago, but I don't remember why.

Sarah said that her eleventh was a special year, as 11 is her lucky number (old enough for Hogwarts but TOO young for the Reaping).

But she was looking forward to this year as well. She is growing more mature, responsible, and confident by the day. Still, she retains an ability to laugh at herself and find the humor in the world. It is that quality I especially cherish in her.

Keep smiling and laughing Sarah. I promise to be doing it beside you.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Birthday Wishes

In the midst of all the storm frenzy and Grace's birthday partying of the past few days, here's hoping that you don't feel that your birthday is getting overlooked.

You and I did get to have a few hours to ourselves earlier this week to enjoy a meal, some dessert, some strolling, and time to talk without children interruptions. And that was such a valuable and special thing to me and I hope you liked it as well.

You've been the best thing in my life since the day we met over twenty years ago. And I look forward to so many more things to enjoy with you as our lives continue to change in the next twenty years. Thank you for the gift of yourself in my life and may I turn every day you have into a gift for you--birthday or not.

Love today, tomorrow, and always.

Party Month Update

It's been a whirlwind of a few days here in Party Month 2012, as we kicked it off a bit early this year by visiting all of my immediate family in Hiawassee, Georgia to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. We enjoy a few days of relaxation, hiking, waterfalling, campfire singing, good food eating, and general merriment. The best congratulations go to mom and dad for their wonderful marriage, their commitment to family, and for being a wonderful example of a loving life lived. It is absolutely obvious that none of us would be here without you, so thanks for everything.

Once we got home from that extended weekend, it was time to celebrate Grace's ninth birthday, as I wrote on here a few days ago. Her actual birthday was mid-week, so we acknowledged the day with morning doughnuts and gifts. Then we all had to go to camp and work and everything else. But we had party plans for this weekend--a few hours at the local pool with some friends, pizza, cake, and water. And wouldn't the water be great since it has been so hot and dry here in the Midwest? When was the last time we've gotten any rain, we thought to ourselves?

And then . . . Friday night came.

I left work about 4:30 to pick up Grace's cake and the sky was already darkening. I got into Meijer and then the bottom fell out. Torrential rain and hellacious winds kept coming and coming and coming for about twenty or thirty minutes. I knew Lynda and the girls were home and in the basement, so I wasn't too worried. I got my stuff, waited for the rains to slacken, got in the car and drove home.

By now power was out everywhere, traffic lights were inoperable, and I was seeing trees large and small down along the roads. Once I got into my neighborhood, I saw a few more trees down, but nothing too catastrophic. Lynda opened the garage and let me in. I was surprised that our two dead trees in the back yard were still standing--but I guess their complete lack of leaves made them less of a wind trap. Still, we were really lucky. No trees down, just limbs.

We waited out the power outage in the basement for a while, then got antsy and decided to go see if we could get any back up food supplies at a grocery store or some other food. Most restaurants were closed, except Arbys--which was pretty overwhelmed. We slipped into Giant Eagle, got some stuff, and went back home.

We opened the windows to let in some of the (slightly) cool air and went to bed. Some of us (not me) slept somewhat fitfully during the night, but woke up yesterday to renewed power. We managed to have the party yesterday afternoon and Grace and her friends had a good time.The pool certainly was a good place to be, considering how hot it continues to be. I've cleaned up the minor debris in our yard and continue to feel really lucky that we aren't negatively affected.

Since then, we've been trying to find ways to help. We're hosting one friend, who's apartment is powerless and he's avoiding the heat there. We have space for sleeping, a functioning AC, some extra refrigerator space for food storage, showers, and whatever else. Please, let our good fortune be to your advantage!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy 9th Grace!

You are nine years old today, even though you've been acting at least that old for several years now. You are becoming a very unique young lady right in front of me, finding your own personality and skills as you become more independent.

You retain your strongest characteristic--a fierce sense of independence and confidence. This has set you apart from many in our family and will give you the power and energy to become a very significant person in the years to come. Your ability to excel in school has already been proven and this summer you've added some pretty impressive budding softball skills to your repertoire.

What's next for you? Who knows . . . and the best thing is that you don't want to be held back and limited. As you have always done, you want to charge ahead and learn more, be more, do more, control more. I am excited about who you are becoming and (honestly) a little bit scared about what you'll want to do next. You are always going to be pushing the envelope and it'll be up to me to reign you in when I must and allow you to challenge yourself whenever possible. Being a parent isn't easy, and being a proper steward to someone with as much potential as you is a privilege.

I don't even want to think about what may come when you think about boys and they wise up enough to start paying attention to you. But, luckily, that is a few more years away. I am sure THAT will be a whole new set of challenges . . . but one we'll work on together.

I'm happy and proud to be your dad and I am very excited to see you experience your ninth year. Don't ever give up on yourself and what you want to do!

Happy Birthday to you!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Zoo Encounter

This afternoon, I took the kids to the zoo, as they weren't signed up for a camp this week.My other alternative was to go swimming, but the temperatures were a bit too mild and windy for that to be an attractive option.At the zoo, the girls wanted to see the gorillas and apes in the African Forest area. While there, I happened to notice a group of two women and a man standing in the crowd. I probably wouldn't have given any of them a second thought, but that one of the women was wearing a backpack with the words CREATION MUSEUM on it. The backpack also had an image of a dinosaur skeleton of some sort. I was intrigued and wondered if they truly were creationists and opposed to evolution. Maybe there were at the monkeys and apes exhibit to gather data on the opposition, I thought? I nondescriptly got closer, hoping to take a picture of the backpack to document my musings, but they started moving on and I couldn't get the camera phone shutter to work quickly enough. So, because I didn't want to be a jerk, my photo wasn't too great.
Not a very good picture, huh?
I gave up on the quest and just continued enjoying my visit to the zoo. But we kept on walking around the monkey and gorilla area and we ran into them again. As karma might have it, we were near this educational graphic that was discussing the connections between humans and other hominid creatures. (I didn't see any spray paint or other evidence of defacement as I took a picture.)
Tolerance is alive and well at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
As we kept on walking towards the exit, I was able to get the camera ready again. And I managed to get a slightly better picture, to at least show that I wasn't making everything up.
She's on the right, with the black backpack.

What's my point? I guess I don't really have one. I just thought it was interesting.You may disagree.

Friday, June 01, 2012


Have you voted yet to determine my Official Hat of Summer? I've gotten a few votes so far (even one this morning) but the polls will stay open for a while. Visit this link to see the video of all of the nominees. Vote early, vote often.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vote for the Official Hat of Summer 2012

The Official Hat of Summer voting has begun. The polls will be open between now and the official start of summer on the Summer Solstice.
Vote for the hat of your choice in the comments below and I will promise to wear this hat every time I go outside during the summer months.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Same-sex Equality

Credit: The White House
President Obama stated today that he favored same-sex marriages. And it was reported on widely. The president's position has been "evolving" for some time, so he says, but he was motivated to evolve faster than he thought after V.P. Biden announced their own acceptance of same-sex marriage inthe last several days.

So, the president has given high-level support to this controversial subject only months before an election. And while I worry that this may further weaken his re-election chances, I am glad that he has made this statement. Because if you're going to possibly go down, make it be because of clearly stated positions to issues that matter, that are meaningful. And that help determine the better definition of what our country stands for and should be about.

News reports I heard on the way home today said that the president's campaign team has calculated that the people who are against same-sex marriages aren't going to vote for him anyway. And so he won't be losing any potential voters. All the more reason, I guess to put his opinion out there and make it public and begin the debate and make the difference stand for something. Maybe this is a bit like Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln knew that his legalistic definition of who would be freed by this proclamation made no difference to the majority of slaves that lived inside and were held within the rebellious Confederacy. (By law and by fact of ongoing warfare, Lincoln's Proclamation had no reality over those individuals while the war was not yet won.) But it made the war mean MORE than simple rebellion or states rights. It made the debate widen to include the reality of enslavement in a more meaningful way.

So maybe Obama's and Biden's statements will make this important issue become something more than a political maneuver. Maybe it will become the beginning of a new chapter in the civil rights movement that tries to live up to the equal ideals that this country is supposed to uphold.

Because this IS a civil rights issue. Honest, loving people, who want to commit to each other have the right to the same sort of legal equality that I have with Lynda. And I don't get special treatment because I happen to be biologically and socially and culturally attracted to women. For me, that is no more in question than the fact that I walk with a hitch in my gait, that I have crooked teeth, or that I have double vision. It is simply who I am and who I have always been. The people that are attracted to their same gender aren't doing so out of rebellion, for why would so many people knowingly choose to live under the disadvantages and ridicule that our narrow-minded culture is placing upon them at this time? I believe they are simply built that way and so why must they be discriminated against?

I also don't think this is a religious issue. The Bible says many things that applied once upon a time but are less directly relevant to the culture that we live in today. I believe in a God that meets people where they are and wants them to live a better, more honest life in true community with others. God is not in the business of discriminating and I don't know the specifics of what God chooses to believe about each individual person.

As a matter of legislation, it is unfair to deny same-sex couples the rights that I have. They are not inherently worse than I am. They will NOT damage our society any more than the many "traditional" married couples that get divorces ever day. They are NOT significantly different than me.

Let them be.