Women of the House.

We were flipping through Amazon Prime Video when a curious suggestion came up on the screen. Amazon’s algorithm thinks we should be watching “Women Of The House”, the 1995 follow-up series to “Designing Women”. This show follows the adventures of Suzanne Sugarbaker as she takes her fifth husband’s seat in Congress until Georgia can elect a new representative. Naturally, one would think hilarity ensues.

Let me assure you, it does not.

It made it 13 episodes before it was cancelled. The last four episodes were broadcast on Lifetime, the show having been cancelled by CBS.

Earl and I watched the two-part pilot. We barely made it through the 42 minutes.

The character of Suzanne Sugarbaker has always been written a little over the top, but in this thing she’s way, way out there. She shrieked “Excuse Me!”, try to get someone’s attention, a few times during the first five seasons of “Designing Women”. In the pilot she does it at least half a dozen times and it doesn’t garner any laughs. There’s also some glaring inconsistencies in her timeline: her maid is now named Sapphire instead of Consuela, and she suddenly has a younger brother she calls “retarded”. He is played solely for laughs in the pilot. Suzanne now also has an adopted daughter because like “Golden Palace”, all spin-offs from popular sitcoms in the mid 1990s apparently needed to have a cheeky kid.

Teri Garr plays a spin on Patsy Stone from “Absolutely Fabulous”, under the guise of being a press secretary, Patricia Heaton is some sort of whacked out, super aggressive, yet completely devoid of class and charm version of Dixie Carter’s Julia Sugarbaker and the third actress plays an administrative assistant that must have been inspired by Julie Haggerty’s flight attendant on “Airplane”, minus the chuckles. And in some unexplained twist, they CGIed Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith” into the Congressional Chambers and since it was 1995, it wasn’t very convincing.

While “Designing Women” was fairly topical, especially in it’s early years, I have no idea what this show was trying to do. Delta wasn’t handed a very good script but she screams her way through every line and admittedly, it was very tough trying to get through the pilot.

If Amazon suggests “Women Of The House” for your viewing pleasure, don’t bother. Take the time to look at one of the early topical episodes from “Designing Women” instead. You’ll have a much better viewing experience.

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Apple has announced their next big event. It is scheduled for September 12 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. It’s called “Apple Special Event”.  They will undoubtedly announce new iPhones and iPads. This can mean only one thing: my iPhone X and iPad Pro will no longer be the latest and greatest from Apple.

And honestly, I don’t really care.

I’ve come to realize that Apple is now about evolution, not revolution. There will be nothing new and exciting about the iPhone XS (or whatever it is called); it will simply have a faster processor and probably a better screen and camera, but it’ll still do what my iPhone X does and not much more.

I read all of these reports of people being unhappy with the latest and greatest MacBook Pro, especially when it comes to the new designed keyboards. My tricked-out MacBook Pro from mid-2015 does its job just fine, even with the latest version of Mac OS (Mojave). This MacBook Pro was an emergency replacement for my older 2013 model, which was stolen out of my hotel room during a work trip. This 2015 model does fine for what it is, and I love using it, but I don’t feel a need to upgrade. Things are still snappy, I can still edit photos and videos without a problem, and the battery life is decent (though not nearly as good as when I bought it new).  I feel no need to purchase a new MacBook Pro, in fact, I don’t know what I’ll do if the day comes that my current computer can’t be repaired or upgraded to where I need it to be. Apple’s focus has moved to iOS but I’m not ready to shift my focus to exclusive iPad use (though I’ve tried on a number of occasions).  If I had an iPad Pro that ran the Mac experience I would be happier, but iOS just feels too simple and confined for me to enjoy a full computing experience. I wouldn’t say it feels like a toy, to me it just feels like a computer designed for casual use. My needs fit well into the upper half of “power user”.

Pundits have been tripping over one another to get the latest tidbit or juicy detail out there about what Apple is going to do at their Special Event next week. I’ll watch the event, because despite my criticisms, I still believe Apple brings the best computing experience available today to the masses, but the truth of the matter is, it isn’t the perfect computing experience.

It’s still interesting to see what they’ll do, though.

Lost In Writing.

Friends kept telling me that Earl and I just HAD to watch the “Lost In Space” reboot on Netflix. I watched episode one and I was mildly impressed, so I re-watched it with Earl to bring him on board and we’ve been watching the series on and off over the past couple of months. It’s not really a “bingeable” series in my book, but we started it and I suppose we need to finish the task.

I’m not sure where others are in their “Lost In Space” viewing so I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible.

The musical score is great. The CGI is very good for a television series. The sets, while looking quite Earth-like even though the show doesn’t take place on Earth, are decent. The stories become quite formulaic as the show goes on but they’re engaging.

The only thing I really don’t like about the show is the reboot of the character of Dr. Smith, played by Parker Posey.

First of all, I know that Parker Posey is a fairly talented actress, so I can’t figure out why she knows nothing outside of three facial expressions for her character. There’s “smug”, “manipulative”, and “confused”. She has nothing outside of these three facial expressions and all of them have the same accessory: her mouth agape and her hair poofed up. I get that she’s suppose to be the villain, but the character is so poorly written that there’s absolutely no redeeming quality to her presence at all. She doesn’t advance the plot. She doesn’t bring out anything remarkable in other characters. She distracts and detracts. A good villain is one where the audience can find something to identify with, even if the viewer lets their evil side loose for just a moment. There is nothing redeeming nor enjoyable about this Dr. Smith. Aside from her mouth agape and limit of three facial expressions, you know what she’s going to do, what she’s going to say, and that she’s going to mess something up along the way. One could easily fast-forward through her scenes and you wouldn’t miss a beat in the storyline.

The character is a waste of time.

I like the tech they’re showing. I like the team work and the family bonding and the science stuff behind the scenes. There’s some hokeyness to some of the science but then again, I grew up with a franchise that had transporter beams, so I can overlook a lot of the convenient science.

But the character with poofy hair and mouth agape on the screen? I wouldn’t mind if they blasted her out of an airlock in the trailer for season two. It might make me reconsider watching the show when it comes back next season.


Promotional still found at smithsonianmag.com courtesy of WB Pictures

I find the weather fascinating, especially when Mother Nature let’s her hair down in all her glory. One of my favorite movies of all time is “Twister” (though I know it is nowhere near to being scientifically accurate). Disaster movies are also fun to watch from time to time. No one screams “there’s no one to fly the plane!” like a disheveled Karen Black.

Earl and I were munching popcorn in a movie theatre last summer when we saw the first trailer for the weather disaster flick “Geostorm”. It looked kind of hookey but once in a while you want to see a hookey film. The release came and went before I remembered wanting to see the movie, so I was happy to see it was coming out on video this month.

We watched “Geostorm” tonight. In fact, it was our first Pay-Per-View on xfinity because, I don’t know, we could.

That’s really the reason this movie was made, because they could.

I’m not going to get into a lot of spoiler stuff here, but I might inadvertently mention some plot points so don’t say you haven’t been warned.

First of all, some of the dialog is really cringeworthy, like, worse than stuff I’ve written in this blog over the past 17 years. Basically the premise is this: in 2019 the weather got too bad for us to handle, so we built a bunch of nifty technology that involved new Space Shuttles, thousands of weather satellites that form a grid around the entire globe and an enhancement to the International Space Station to enable it to hold all the equipment necessary, house over 600 personnel, and spin to maintain gravity. Before 2022.

There’s a lot of CGI weather effects that remind me of making the citizens run around in SimCity back when I was playing it on my PowerMac G4. Lots of tornadoes, way too many lightning strikes, flash frozen 747s (because it’s always a 747), that sort of thing.

If you take crazy weather special effects, a lot of impressive computer screen graphics that make me want to delve back into Linux (because I can) and throw the movie “Armageddon” into the stew just for fun, you’ve got “Geostorm”.

Was it worth $5.99? I say yes just for the escapism. Earl just told the rest of the family not to waste their money.

The one piece of cool tech displayed that I hope comes to fruition before 2022 is the replacement of smartphones with the “Holoframe”.

Image randomly grabbed from Bob Canada’s Blogworld.

This tech was kind of cool and it lends itself to the direction I wish we were headed in when it came to our smart devices. When off, it looked like a pen.

That was kind of nifty.

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DST Again.

We were reminded at work today that Daylight Saving Time starts in the United States this Sunday at 0200. For those that don’t know what Daylight Saving Time is, it is an outdated practice of moving the clocks forward one hour to fool simple minded people into thinking that they’re getting an extra hour of sunlight everyday, thereby reinforcing the outdated thinking that humans should be enslaved to a man made concept of time and should only play when they are told to play and only work when they are told to work. Anyone with an IQ that exceeds a typical Interstate speed limit will tell you that the days of Daylight Saving Time has long outlived its usefulness but the sheep will baa baa baa about farmers loving it (they don’t), the energy savings that results from the change (energy use actually goes up) and that people are happier because they days are longer (who can be happy when we have Trump as President of the United States?).

We used to start Daylight Saving Time in mid April back when people were a bit more sane but then Baby Bush decided that it would be better to start it the second week of March. I don’t know what it’s doing in the rest of the country in the first half of March, and quite frankly, I don’t really care what it’s doing, but there’s a really good chance that the wind chill factor in these parts are going to be below zero and that we will have low visibility due to lake effect snow storms. Since we are suddenly on Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, I want every proponent of this idiotic messing around with the clocks, be it child, parent, grandparent or just plain imbecile, outside at 7:00 PM on Sunday evening enjoying their “extra hour of sunlight”. I don’t care that it’s minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit or that the snow is up to their tits, they want the “extra” sunlight, they better get their asses out there and enjoy it.

Me? I’m going to be in some jet lag induced fog until November when we stop trying to play God and actually rise and set with the actual sun instead of some man made measurement of time that doesn’t correspond with the position of the sun in the sky like we used to do for the past two or three thousand years. I’m going to be inside keeping warm and trying to decide if my Honeycomb cereal is lunch or dinner because God knows what time it will really be. I’ll be late for work on Monday morning and when I do get myself situated to actually work I won’t do much but ponder about the fact that I’m tired, I have no motivation and I really don’t have any interest in associating with someone that is all joyful because their simple mind has been fooled into thinking they have an “extra hour of sunlight” in their day.

If you want an extra hour of sunlight, get up earlier and get out of work earlier. Stop trying to dictate why the rest of the world has to play your stupid game of “easily fooled” just because your intelligence level is that of a mouth breather. I’m so tired of playing this “cater to the common lowest denominator” game. 

And while I’m ranting, if I have to endure one more idiot announce that they’ve set a meeting for “1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time” when it’s in the middle of July, I’m going to take their moronic nomenclature literally and join the meeting at “1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time”, which, for those that are have the attention span of a gnat, is actually “2:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time”.  Throwing in “standard time” to the time zone when you’re scheduling meetings is a futile attempt at trying to sound professional when in fact it makes you look like a big fat goon. I hope you choke on your donut.

If you think Daylight Saving Time is a great idea, you’re an idiot. You’re part of the problem. You have no solution and quite frankly you’re taking up too much space.


So Earl and I have been binge watching “Scandal” since late spring, trying to catch up with the existing five seasons so we could hit the ground running this autumn with the premiere of season 6. 

A week or two ago I mentioned this to my friend Christine, who is an über media guru, and she cautioned that we were watching “peak Scandal” as we made our way through season 2 (at the time). Tonight we watched the mid-season/winter premiere of season 4. The episode is entitled “Run” (season 4 episode 10) and it was just awful. Miserable. Dreadful. Any snappy dialog was gone. The politics of D.C. were out the window. There were hardly any familiar characters. No one was “fixing” anything (as the main character is known for “fixing” situations, she was nowhere near herself.) The music included dubstep idiocy with choppy and screwy cinematography. 

I paused Netflix through about 4/5th of the episode (it was actually about 8 minutes in) and asked Earl if he was enjoying himself. He responded to the negative. I declared that I hated it but we trudged on through the episode and came to the end of it.

It was then that I swore I would never watch another episode of “Scandal” again. It assaulted my sensibilities. It insulted my intelligence, and without giving away any of the plot, here’s why:

1. The main character, who is known for being smart, on top of her game, able to fix any situation, drops a gun after shooting a man, even though she knows there’s more men to shoot. She basically dropped the gun down a plot hole.

2. The other main character of the episode, a man that has never been seen before this episode, has been a prisoner for a very long time, though he’s quite groomed looking with a clean shave and everything. The bathroom that they keep showing is disgusting and the female lead is having a bad hair day because she can’t shower or do her hair, but by god the man can shave daily.

3. Did I mention the god awful wailing sounds of the soundtrack, coupled with idiotic rewinds, alternating slow and fast motion sequences and that god awful dubstep music? It made me wish for the technology where Jaime Somers could jump with a ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba bum sound.

4. There was absolutely nothing familiar about the plot, the show or the premise of the show. For all we know this could have been a backdoor pilot for “How To Make A Woman’s Hair Frizz in 40 Minutes”

5. The god awful dubstep and wailing was punctuated with old dialog echoing over and over and over again. We get it, “Shondaland”, you have nifty computer toys in your editing studio.

When the episode was over I swore, today, on my 48th birthday, that I would never watch another episode of “Scandal”. And I won’t. I’m steadfast on that, just as quickly as I dropped “Private Practice” when that drug woman came in or “The West Wing” when CJ decided to sleep with the Vice President.

It is abundantly clear that this was an award nomination grab of the most gratuitous, masturbatory degree possible. Every line, every wailing noise, every dubstep horror, every special effect dripped of “someone should get an award for THIS! NOW!”

Such a friggin’ disappointment. I’ve read numerous times that Shonda Rhimes can get a series going but she can’t keep one going for more than a season or two.

It would appear that she’s living up to that hype. ’Tis a pity.


Video: Singing The National Anthem.

Every year around the Super Bowl I often turn into super critic after hearing someone sing the National Anthem before the big game. My biggest gripe is that the singer routinely turns the opportunity to bring the crowd together in national unity into something much more self-serving, bringing the spotlight on their performance instead. Performers often slow the song down to a ballad, which is contrary to the original intent of the song. It’s meant to be an uplifting tribute, not a schmaltzy ballad.

In all fairness, some have retorted in the past, “yes, but could you do better?” Fair enough. So here is a video of me singing “The Star Spangled Banner” into the webcam on my MacBook. I did this in one take, as if it was live. There’s no edits, no technological tricks, no auto-tune, no backing track. Just me singing the National Anthem a cappella. I cringe at the facial expressions I make and you probably will too. But this is how I sing the National Anthem, with just a touch of my personal inflection, in an effort to encourage others around me to join in if they so choose, at a nice jaunty pace.

TV, Part 1.

Earl and I spent the evening catching up on the new television season courtesy of our DVR last night. We watched five shows and enjoyed four of them, so we are off to a decent start.

I’m purposely leaving out spoilers because I’m nice.

“How To Get Away With Murder” kicked off season two right where season one left off. Shonda Rhimes packed in a whole boatload of twists and turns in the season premiere and it was in the final moments of the episode that the season storyline arc was firmly established. We are eagerly looking forward to the next episode; what they built the series on in season one solidly continues in season two because it works.

“The Mysteries of Laura” basically became a different television program with a slightly more serious tone. I was on the fence about this one last season because it didn’t really grab me; it took us several weeks to finally catch up on episodes. The introduction of a new character, the new captain of the precinct, killed the vibe of the light vibe that permeated the show last season. They also wrote off the quirky detective with barely an explanation, which I found surprising because she was a fan favorite and contributed heavily to the lightheartedness of the show. It was the light vibe that made this show stand out to begin with. I barely made it through the episode hoping that the captain was a guest appearance but it looks like she’s staying around. We scratched it off the DVR To Do list. If I read somewhere that she’s gone, we’ll reconsider it.

“Life In Pieces” is a new CBS comedy set up as four short stories about a family. The show is very odd. It’s kind of like “Love, American Style” with the little vignettes, but they’re all interconnected and related to each other. OK, maybe more like “Love, American Style” meets “Modern Family”. I found it difficult to digest but it piqued my interest.

“Limitless” is a new CBS action show based on the movie of the same name. Bradley Cooper even makes an appearance in the pilot to connect the two. The special effects are cool, the way they portray thought processes, etc. is interesting and it’s a decent continuation of the “Limitless” universe established in the movie. There are some hefty “leaps of faith” in the storyline but I can deal. I liked the movie, I liked the pilot and I’m looking forward to the next episode.

“Shark Tank” is more of the same deal in previous seasons with folks pitching their ideas to millionaires to get funding for their entrepreneurial endeavor. It’s a little jump the sharky with the addition of guest millionaires, the season premiere featured Ashton Kutcher, but there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I don’t particularly enjoy the shows that are missing Barbara Corcoran, because I really like her spirit and approach to the whole thing, so I wasn’t super invested in this season premiere but I’m looking forward to the next episode.

4 1/2 hours of television was all I could digest in one day. I don’t know if I’m going to keep score or blog about this again this year, but here’s what we got so far:

* “How To Get Away With Murder”: A-
* “The Mysteries of Laura”: D — first casualty of the season
* “Life in Pieces”: B
* “Limitless”: B+
* “Shark Tank”: B+

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We both enjoy watching “Shark Tank”. While some of the presentations from those looking for funding feel very awkward, I do enjoy watching the “sharks” wheel and deal. Barbara Corcoran is my favorite shark. I think she’s a good businesswoman.

A couple of weeks ago, a device that I had heard about over a year ago was presented on “Shark Tank”. It’s called the Squatty Potty.

This is not me.

The science behind the Squatty Potty seems to make sense; humans weren’t really designed to sit on a chair when taking a dump, for our muscles and other anatomy to work properly, we should be squatting. While the folks behind Squatty Potty aren’t advocating ripping out conventional toilets are replacing them with holes in the floor and a couple of steady rails, they do advocate squatting by selling a stool that easily stores underneath your toilet bowl. The idea is simple, put your feet up on the stool when you’re doing your business.

We ordered a couple of them. It absolutely work.

I like holistic things like this, where we work in harmony with our body instead of trying to make our body do things it wasn’t really designed to do. This new device has basically taken the grunt work out of elimination. I feel good after using the toilet with a Squatty Potty. Things just seem to move better.

The Squatty Potty is a little pricey but it’s well constructed and it seems to do what it’s suppose to do. I’m a satisfied customer.



Photo from the cnn.com website
 It has been all over the Internet but in case you haven’t seen it, Mariah Carey performed her holiday track, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration on the 3rd. Due to scheduling and timing issues and other factors, Mariah opted to perform this track live. She was accompanied by backup singers, a bunch of children dancing around and other assorted staged merriment.
 Admittedly, it wasn’t Mariah’s best live performance. Her voice sounds tired, but on the other hand, she performed it in the same key as the original recording 20 years ago. Unlike some of her contemporaries that would just drop the song down a few steps to a lower key to accommodate what age invariably does to one’s voice, Mariah sang it as her public knows it, albeit with a few different embellishments to avoid some shrieky high parts.
 Now, of course it’s 20 years later. Mariah’s voice is not going to sound the same as a 40-something as it did as a 20-something. Very, very few people sound the same that they did 20 years ago, whether they’re speaking, screaming at their kids or singing in the shower, so why there is an expectation that she’d sound the same live in 2014 that she did in a recording studio in 1994 speaks volumes about the dumbing down of the American entertainment consumption public. People have been rather vicious with their critiques and quite frankly, I find this all to be quite unfair. To rub salt further into the matter, an unscrupulous audio engineer at the event recorded her raw, isolated mic feed and leaked that onto the internet. I’m not going to link to it, but if I’ve heard it and it sounds as I would expect it to sound; like a professional singer singing live into a microphone with absolutely no audio processing at all, whilst moving around a stage and expecting embellishments from the backup singers and the backing track where the singer knows his or her voice is not at its strongest. Anyone with any sort of performance acumen would know this, but people delight in the negative today, even when someone is trying to sing her best for an uplifting, holiday celebration.
 Now, I’m the first to be critical of raw audio from the likes of Taylor Swift and the other smattering of manufactured crap pop princesses today because they’ve NEVER been able to sing without a lot of computerized, manufactured audio magic to make them sing good, but, even though I’m not particularly a fan of Mariah’s singing style, the woman can sing, has an incredible range (which has undoubtedly been shortened with age), can carry a tune and she still has an amazing quality to her voice. Does she sound like 22 year old Mariah Carey? No she does not and quite frankly if she did it wouldn’t be genuine.
 As I said, I’m not particularly a fan of her vocal runs; she has led the charge in what I call the “urban yodeling movement”, what with the splattering of singing loudly and splattering notes on and all around a melody line in some sort of tonal gymnastics that some find impressive, but when nuts comes to bolts and all the pieces are calmed down and following the reasonable laws of physics and music, Mariah has always had an excellent voice and she continues to do so, albeit with adjustments for age.
 So, as to the audio engineer that leaked the raw mic feed from the 12/3 performance, quite frankly I think you’re a dick and you’re probably hiding behind a union of audio engineers that will protect you for it. As far as the armchair critics go, the mean spirited comments are just that, mean, and you’re not entirely to blame because the recording industry has used way too much magic for way too long and ultimately set artists, both real and manufactured up alike, up for failure because no human can meet the robotic and artificial sounds of auto-tune with any sort of natural singing voice.
 Thank you Mariah for lending your talents to what was a joyous celebration. I enjoyed the performance as it was presented and I hope you continue to share your ability just as you wish for as long as you want.