Memories of Dad

Every once in awhile when I’m watching a television show, and my mind thinks ahead and figures out how it’s going to end, it makes me remember my dad.

Picture 011My memories of him have pride attached. Like a good son, I looked up to him, and respected how smart he was, and how he could solve any problem with a home made solution. In retrospect, neither of my parents were really as smart or great as I always thought they were, but families have their own special kind of love blind. To me, they were both great, good looking parents.

All my life I’ve had a different way of looking at things, and thinking about things. My dad was a doer, and I was a dreamer.  He was more an engineer, and followed his ideas through to completion. I was more the dreamer that just liked coming up with the ideas. My mind has always been a bit obsessive, although I never had a diagnosis. I have always over thought things, and it effects the speed of my decision making process.

I’ve called myself a master of scenarios, while others have called me a devils advocate. When presented with a situation, I tend to create as many what if scenarios as I can. I always come up with possible situations that others didn’t think of. Sometimes that’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse.

This ability wasn’t always good at guessing the actual outcome that transpired, but it did generate a lot of ideas that frequently created fear and self doubt. Thinking up many possible outcomes for any given situation ended up being the main reason my life was filled with a lot of “No”.  If invited out, there would be enough scenarios with negative outcomes to tip the risk scale to my safe setting, and I would just say No. I would not attend. There was always a distinct possibility I wouldn’t enjoy myself at your party, or that movie, or that restaurant, or the spice.

On the positive side however, it was like a superpower when watching TV. My active mind always watches shows on two or three levels while I watch the storyline, I also evaluate the setting from the actors viewpoint, or the production side. I notice and remember plot points and inconsistencies. I am constantly thinking up scenarios about how the story will continue.

It gives me pleasure to watch a murder mystery, and solve the crime before the mid episode commercial break. I may revise and update my conclusions as the story unfolds, and I may imagine several possible conclusions. Because of this, I get to enjoy the equivalent of multiple new stories at once. The real show as it plays out, and the imagination versions I’ve created in my mind. Often my endings are totally different, but equally as satisfying as the real episode.

Sometimes I prefer my stories. My endings were better than the ones the show followed.

This is all fun and mind games until you watch with somebody else, and freely express your thought as the show plays live. It should come as no surprise that other spectators don’t share the same excitement when I guess who did it, how and why all before the the first 10 minutes have passed.  I can be the worst kind of spoiler dude, ruining shows live, with solutions that may or may not be right.

I’m worse that the person who you overheard in a line at the theatre talk about Darth Vader being Luke’s father, or that “the Judge is a Toon!!” even before you’ve entered the theatre. I’m even more irritating kid behind you in the theater that always whispers loudly to his friend before each plot point, unless he also keeps kicking your seat back, then he is the worst.

My father has a reputation within my memories of being loud. I don’t have too many visuals of anything other than him losing his temper. It is his defining character trait that trumps his genius in my memory vault. We always had to be careful not to upset him. 

However, in this one particular memory, I made him smile. Every time. Whenever I was able to guess the bad guy, way before he could comprehend it, he was always happy. Proud. 

I’d say; “It’s him. He did it” and he’d smile, and say; “How do you do that?”, emphasizing the second “do” in a tone I read aloud in my head as I write.

I have no memory of him ever getting upset at me spoiling the ending, even if I wasn’t right, which I usually was. I usually am. To be fair, TV shows are pretty easy to guess most of the time. It’s not rocket science, but to my father, it was a skill he didn’t process. His mind didn’t work that way.

 

A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the BBC series Sherlock off my Plex. A friend had recommended it, and was eager o re-watch it with me. I was given permission to talk aloud as we watched. Very early on, I paused and declared; I’d like to solve the puzzle Pat.

She didn’t know what I meant at first, so the joke fell flat, but I followed up with an explanation of how rest of the hour long show would play out. I got all the major plot and character elements right. She seemed a bit shaken by the experience. I could witness her face mould through a few variations before settling on a response. I’m sure she may have even thought about accusing me of having seen it before. I get that a lot.

Instead, she asked; “How did you do that?”

I smiled. It reminded me of my dad.

I told her this story.

The Highlander – 2014 Doctor Edition

Forever_(U.S._TV_series)_Title_Card[1]

A few summers ago,  during the slow summer season when hardly anything new is on TV, I started binge watching The Highlander series every day on one of those obscure higher package cable channels. I have always been a fan of time travel stories, and although immortals are not technically the same as time travellers, the similarity in story was enough for me.  I had seen the movie later in life, but I really liked the series. I often find myself day dreaming about what it would be like for me, if I could live a few hundred years. As I got older, I even started telling people I’ll be darn pissed off if I die an old man, and THEN find out I was immortal.

Over the years I have considered a few immortal scenarios I could write about, if I ever started writing fiction. The concept leads well to fiction, and I’m still surprised we don’t see more movies and TV shows about immortals.

Tonight that all changed, and a new modern day immortal debuted in the fall TV lineup. Another cop procedural with a twist, which seems to be such a common storyline these days.  Character X helps a regular cop or federal agent solve crimes. I’ve blogged previously about how many cops in the USDA seem to need the help of strangers to do their job. I suspect the real cops get a little disturbed by this. There are almost no shows were good cops do their own crime solving these days. Yesterdays blog was about another premier using the same plot, except with government cop and consultants were 5 geniuses instead of an immortal.

In FOREVER, the lead character is unexplainably immortal. Much like the immortals of The Highlander series. They actually die, but then come back to life. In The Highlander, they used the same body, which was logical. In this new series, they’ve added the twist that they are reborn somewhere lese, always naked in water. We’ll no doubt see this twits used for humour and suspense as the show continues. In episode two, we discover their original body just seems to disappear, which is a plot point that will surely get him in trouble. It also passes into the realm of magic and unbelievability for me.  I am actually OK with the concept of immortality, but a disappearing body pushes the limits of reality a bit farther than I’m comfortable with.

duncanLike Duncan Mac Leod, of the clan Mac Leod, he has lived for a few hundred years, and has learned many languages, although he still speaks with a British accent. He has mastered skills as he lived from life to life around the globe, moving on and starting over every few decades. Undoubtedly we will see his past memories of war and love become part of the story each week as the writers introduce us to more of him.

His other attribute seems to be a sharp mind, modelled after the kind of obsessive attention to detail we’ve been seeing a lot in shows from Sherlock Holmes to Monk, Psych, The Mentalist and others. He’s smarter than the average cop. I’m actually a little surprised they didn’t give him a photographic memory too.

I am excited to see episodes three and on. I’m curious to see whether he’ll reveal to his Lois Lane cop partner early on, or  her whether the mystery of how he isn’t afraid of death, and doesn’t seem to get injured will last a few weeks. It might even stay a secret all of season 1.  If the show gets picked up for a second season, it will no doubt start down another path of TV co-ed partnerships, and we’ll get to see them fall in love… which is extra tricky for an immortal. We’ve already seen how much he daydreams of his first love lost from the 1940’s

I can’t yet decide which decision will make for better story lines, but as long as they keep trying to solve dangerous murders, he will continue to be killed each week at least once, so it might start to get silly if he doesn’t explain himself sooner rather than later. Everybody used to complain when Superman didn’t do something super at least once per episode. It is the same for an immortal. There is no point unless they keep killing him. Currently the only Daren Stevens character that knows his secret is his adopted son, who is now the age his father would be. A nice twist.

FOREVER really is two shows in one A cop procedural with a super-hero twist. Well see whether the plot goes more towards a show solving murders,  or an immortal hiding a secret. I’m hoping for a nice balance that keeps the series going with interesting plots. I’ve seen from 5 years of The Highlander, there are a lot of places the story can go.

When my mind gets creative, it thinks up futire directions for season 2 and beyond. I think it’d be cool if every season they pulled a reverse Doctor Who and changed every character but the lead. One death is public and instead of being exposed, he must pack up and move on, much like The Highlander did when he moved to France for a year.  It would be something we don’t see often on network TV.

I like it.  I’m a first episode fan.  It stays in the rotation.

Unpause.

Madam Secretary of Quahog

It’s new TV week.

I sat down this evening to watch and review the new network TV show about Mrs. Clinton called Madam Secretary.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3501074/

It’s probably not really about Hilary although the main star looks a lot like a younger version of Mrs. Clinton,  complete with a similar, but not identical hair style. I think we are at least going to be shown what the job of the secretary of state is all about, which may indirectly impress people that the former first lady is a smart strong woman, who may be a good candidate for 2016 president.  I know little else about the show itself, but it’s hard not to make the connection.

Over the years, the networks have tried a number of government themed shows, including a short lived series with Geena Davis as the President. I expect this show to be similar in style to The West Wing, which was a fictional, but educational about us politics. I loved the West Wing.

Sadly, the show I apparently recorded and started to watch, was Family Guy.  The network had changed their pilot premier schedule for unknown reasons. A tiny banner scroll ran across the bottom of the screen alerting me that the show I actually wanted was on at some other time. An alert I could do nothing about but be frustrated. A PVR fail. I searched the schedule for another showing, as well as the ON DEMAND catalogue, but there was no other copy of the show. I had missed it.

Ouch. That has to hurt the ratings of a brand new show. Episode one would have taken a hit if anyone else had done the same. I wasn’t even to watch an online version on my tablet or Chromecast because the Global TV version plays from the web using a FLASH player, which is no longer supported on portable devices. I was forced to download the show from the torrents overnight.

As my brain often does, I ponder about what goes on behind the scenes to make such a change. Usually premier dates of new shows are set months in advance, and the schedule is delicately defined. Time slots are fought over and manipulated to fit the show style and demographic.

I wonder if it this last minute switch was political. I imagined a scenarios where the republican party secretly tries to sabotage a show that puts a democratic character is a good light. Having a hit show on the fall lineup in 2014 could actually help Hillary Clinton run for office in 2016, that is if she ever admits to wanting to.

I never found out why it was moved.  I’ll watch it later.

To be continued.

Robot Chicken Social School

Sometimes, educational TV takes a different approach. It teaches us important life lessons, and helps us socialize.

There is a TV show on every night that I strongly recommend everyone watches. Each episode is only 15 minutes, but the lessons it delivers is essential to a person’s pop culture education.

Robot Chicken is an amazing tool. It is a crash course in current and retro pop culture, ideal for learning just enough about anime, kids shows and toys to appear competent in any social gathering, or fan convention like Comic Con.

I am a 50 year old man. My young years were in the 60’s and 70s, so I missed a lot of childhood programming from the 80s and 90s. My Saturday morning cartoons were from the years where they were really crap. I remember bad shows like the original really horrible Spiderman cartoon, Rocket Robinhood, Friendly Giant, Rocketship 7 and Davey and Goliath. I looked up to Mr. Dressup and Mr Greenjeans.

Kids today know all about different shows, as every generation has their own version of Saturday morning. I know nothing about Anime and Naruto and Power Rangers and Transformers. I missed them all.

Robot Chicken is a unique show. It’s not live action and it’s not a cartoon. Robot chicken is primarily a sketch show that parodies all ages and all forms of children’s television and classic TV shows. Animated dolls replay scenes from our youth, and all the youth shows we missed. We laugh at the jokes we know, like Davey being possessed by his devil dog Goliath, and we laugh at the jabs at shows we don’t know too. It’s a funny show.

The secret is – we’re learning the basics of the shows we don’t know. We’re getting educated on the pop culture we were not a part of. We’re seeing HE MAN and SKELATOR and RAINBOW BRIGHT… all characters I knew absolutely nothing about before episodes of Robot Chicken mocked them.

One of my weekend hobbies is going to fan conventions and comic cons. In the Toronto area we have over 70 of them a year. A number that might actually be a record for North America. Because of Robot Chicken, I am able to listen and even participate in discussions about MY LITTLE PONY or GI-JOE. These are shows I’ve never seen, but I know all about Cobra Commander because of the parodies I’ve seen on Robot Chicken.

I want to get a whole line of T-SHIRTS:

ALL I KNOW ABOUT ANIME I LEARNED FROM ROBOT CHICKEN

Bully Laughs

Sometimes, I feel guilty over laughing at comedy. A lot of it is mean.

The mean stuff often makes me laugh, despite the understanding that a real person is the butt of the joke. Comedy often attacks real people. I believe there is a law that lets them rip apart politicians with comedy, and celebrities have always been fair game it seems. Late night talk shows just crack jokes freely at other people’s expense.

I was watching an episode of Chelsea Lately just now, and the panel was all ripping Whitney Houston’s daughter apart, comparing her to a back woods Southern hillbilly, and then made 3 mean jokes about the gap in her teeth.

Now all I know about Whitney Houston’s daughter now, is that she has a gap in her teeth.

It seems much of the comedy on late night television is all about attacking somebody. In order to stay topical and appeal to a mass audience, they pick on people we all know. Sometimes it’s somebody famous like a politician, but thanks to the Internet and YouTube, often it’s a regular person who appears in a photo or video clip that has gone viral. Regular people are becoming the nightly punch line for millions of strangers to laugh at.

TV often gets its biggest laughs by putting somebody else down. By being a bully. A mean bully.

If we saw this sort of thing in a schoolyard, we’d protest. You’re not supposed to make fun of the weird kid, or the accidental banana peel slip, but on stage it seems fine. In front of friends it’s bad to point and laugh – but in front of strangers, we’re allowed to applaud at you falling into a fountain, or down a hole while checking your phone.

All the late night shows do it. They pick clips from the media of the day and present them with a punch line. Some innocent people have become famous overnight while we all giggle at them. We don’t think about how it may have changed their life. Imagine going to work the next day and Jimmy Kimmel has just made you a laughing stalk. Suddenly everyone knows you’re an idiot.

I confess I often laugh. I like to laugh and somebody slipping off stage or running into a tree can be funny. America’s Funniest Videos has been on the TV for years letting us laugh at mistakes. I’m talking more about the mean jokes that punctuate these videos. Personal comments and jokes that cut deeper needlessly. These days I often divert my thoughts to the victim. A visual image if how they might feel hearing this and possibly experience related behaviour change from everyone.

One joke can literally be life changing.

Bullying is bullying.

Pauseandblog: Perception

SC_004I’ve been watching a TV show called perception, which in many ways is just another in the long line of buddy cop shows that have come along in the past three years. You’ve no doubt seen at least one odd pairing of police, FBI or CSI and their helpful, off the books consultant.  Although Monk and Castle and The Mentalist may be among the most famous, both cable and network TV have been pairing odd experts with law officials to solve crimes for years.

Having both expert and novice work together in TV land gives them a reason to have to explain the stuff we might not understand otherwise.

On Bravo’s Perception, the expert helping the FBI is an Ivy League professor of psychology, but also a schizophrenic, and the delusions and voices he hears, usually help him solve the case. It’s an odd three way dynamic with an imaginary muse.

In this series, there is almost always an opening scene or two where the good doctor is in class teaching a lesson, coincidentally similar to the case he’s consulting on, or about to be.

The premise reminds me of how the sitcom Seinfeld originally opened and ended with Jerry doing his stand up routine at the top of the show and an extra punchline at the end, which were supposed to indicate to us, the answer to that age-old question every comic writer gets; “where do you get your material?”

I enjoy these sequences on Perception because it’s a field I’m fascinated with; the brain. His mini classroom lessons are actually educational. In today’s lecture, he begins by asking a student; “What have you done with your hair?”. He continues; ” It doesn’t matter how your day is going, often all it takes is one off hand comment to ruin it.”

This is so true, and one of the qualities I’m working on in my life.  Joy can be crushed so easily by another, with simple words, often not even intentionally. A question can begin a doubt loop that breaks your confidence and exposes it as a lie. I have this problem, and I also have been known to ask the kinds of questions that cause this grief in others.

Of course, it is almost always just in our head, and reframing can dissolve the negative thoughts. It just takes practice.

The next phrase he utters is what made me pause the TV and blog. “That’s because our brains are hard wired to remember the negative interactions better than the positive…”

Can this be true? I had to un-pause, and re-play the scene just a bit more to learn. The rest of the clip got more technical as he talks about unhappiness being a choice. This hits home with me, and my own personal writings and theories have been saying this.  I didn’t realize it was chemically and instinctively an uphill battle. I just though it was me.

In some ways, having physiology to blame means it’s not my fault.

Thank you Perception. Your scene may have changed my life.

Jeff Goebel
Mental Icarus

 

Pauseandblog: The Dead Body Reveal

TV inspires me to pause and blog often. I used to enjoy watching TV with someone, so we could pause and chat, but now that I live alone this is my compromise. I share with my blog.

Today I watched the opening pre-title scene of a recent NCIS episode.

(Yes, maybe that makes me old, if you believe the online chatter than NCIS is this generations’ Murder She Wrote, watched only by seniors.)

I’ve been a fan of the ensemble characters since season 1, but this blog he nothing to do with the show. It’s more about the genre of the DB reveal.

Far too many shows on TV these days open the show by revealing a dead body. Almost every show in the late prime time television spot opens almost every episode by revealing a dead body, for which the characters then have an hour or two at most to solve.

These opening sequences have a wide variety, and most frequently the scene has nothing to do with the rest of the show. It stands alone, as one or two random people, living their everyday unrelated lives, just happen apon, dig up, witness or otherwise discover a dead body somewhere. As actors, they get the privilege of a speaking role credit, despite having less than a minute on screen time. It’s a great first role for anyone.

My mind likes to think of the off camera work behind the scenes and I’ve often wondered about these opening reveal scenes. Most shows mix it up and have at least one or two episodes a season without an opening dead body reveal, but for the most part it is a murder show staple. I use the term “murder show”,  while others probably consider softer wording, like crime drama, cop show or detective show procedural. The commonality is that they’re all solving murders in one way or another.  Prime time has a lot of death. Everyone is killing everyone.

The massive demand for random and unrelated body reveal scenes must be difficult to keep writing, week after week, show after show. I ponder; do directors and writers buy and sell those scene scripts separate from the show? It seems like a perfect opportunity to separate the entire scene from the rest of the production. An amazing opportunity to give guest directors a chance, or pay back favours by casting your brothers daughter. Whenever I see a fresh new face in a DB reveal opener, I wonder if it was a gift role. I wonder if some writer wrote that reveal and sold it. I wonder a lot of things.

For writers, I have to believe they would welcome creative ideas for this part. It’s totally less important than the show plot, and could easily be farmed out or even freelance purchased.

I think it might even be a neat marketing ploy during sweeps week to have a more famous name director do the opening reveal scenes, perhaps for a whole evening or week of reveals, or maybe theme them in stunt casting and shared scenarios.

Can you imagine Tom Hanks being directed by Woody Allen discovering a teenager who was pushed in front of a train on next week’s episode of NCIS.

I probably should have come up with more youthful examples to try to regain my stance that I am not a senior citizen. Oh well.

In the preview I watched tonight that inspired all this, I saw a distracted man texting while driving, drive over his dead body before the credit roll. A meaningful public service announcement built into the DB reveal. That’s great. They’re finding a way to make them less useless. A DB reveal that teaches us about life.

I wonder if the driver of the car was somebody’s nephew.

Jeff Goebel
NOT A SENIOR CITIZEN

The Medium used to be the Message

The World Evolves.

The medium used to be the message, but today the audience is the author.
The world is the medium and the message.

Media is finally created by, and received by both parties. The watcher is the content producer.

Reality TV now exists in multiple forms. On networks, it’s still created by producers and isn’t really reality TV, but we also have the Internet, and online – REAL reality exists. Video created by the people for the people… or for nobody.

Everyone has a truth
One man can be a church
A lie travels fast

Regular people can build an audience, and maybe even a fanbase. They often become addicted, just like reality TV stars have been known to become.

When we get an audience, we crave a bigger audience. Laughter, or worship is addictive.

Sadly, some also get famous unwillingly in this new world where it’s OK to laugh and share literally anything funny.

Slipping on a banana was always funny, to everyone but the fallen – but today the moment isn’t lost in the moment. Today we can click a button and re-live the humiliation over and over and over and even make somebody totally unrelated to the act, except they were the ones that uploaded the clip, filthy rich with 6,000,00 views, and an upbeat tune to make the fall even funnier.

A new phobia emerges!

A new fear of being caught on camera and becoming an Internet sensation overnight. The terror of being viewed and mocked by Howard Stern in the morning, or Jimmy Kimmel Live late that very night or other countless comedic monologues.

Without your permission or awareness, the world is laughing at you, as you fall into a hole in a kitchen, or walk into a water fountain while texting… or slip on a banana peel. If you’re very unlucky, they turn you into an extra funny meme and your 15 minutes lasts for weeks — ever.

A clown.

I will remember the Double Rainbow guy forever and not remember who won the last season of Survivor, Idol, AGT or next top model. I watch those shows, but I forget the winners almost instantly. I remember the STAR WARS KID and the guy that sings CHOCOLATE RAIN.

I remember the “RIDAY FRIDAY” singer much more than I remember whoever was the musical guest on SNL this past week.

World media has become as famous, or more famous than the big TV Networks, but TV is learning. They’re trying to merge the two. They bring YouTube onto the TV, and discuss the top stories, and make an extra punch line or two out of the already funny… again.

Each night we have shows that try to recap the days Internet memes and sensations, but I’m always pleased when I’ve already seen the YouTube videos or VINES or other clips that Chris Hardwick plays @Midnight or TOSH.O makes fun of this week. It means I’m current, and for some reason, at age 50, that makes me happy. I know who Miley Cyrus is, and was – but I also know Grumpy Cat and Keyboard Cat.

I don’t want to be famous.
I just want a few fans.

What I watch. 2013 Edition

In no specific order, these are shows that I watch every week.  It’s a crazy amount.

 

King and Maxwell
Jimmy Kimmel Live
The Originals
Body of Proof
Lost Girl
Supernatural
Daily Show
Brooklyn 99
Person of Interest
CSI
NCIS
NCIS LA
This hour has 22 minutes
Rick Mercer
Saturday Night Live
Robot Chicken
Big Bang Theory
Michael J Fox Show
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Murdock Mystsries
Bones
Dragons Den
The Crazy Ones
Tosh. 0
Who’s Line is it anyway
Key &  Peele
The Soup
Mythbusters
Doctor Who
Rizolli and Isles
Royal Pains
Arrow
Beauty and the Beast
The Tomorrow People
Canada’s Worst Driver
Chelsea Lately
Franklin and Bash
Perception
South Park
FACE OFF
Sleepy Hollow
Survivor
Scandal
White Collar
Once apon a Time
Community
Grimm
Covert Affairs
Border Security

Vote to go to heaven

America’s Got Talent

I was watching Nick Cannon on AGT,  when he admitted a comment, and instantly realized, or else a producer did and yelled at in his earpiece.  I think Nick Cannon just said; if you want to go to heaven, vote for these guys. I watched the facial expressions he made, with my imagination filling in the voice in his earpiece.

I could imagine phones ringing everywhere.  Back stage going crazy over this new juicy news byte. He just told everyone, if you want to go to heaven, vote for these guys. Everyone knew it was bad, instantly. It could be blown up huge if anybody wrote it to make us care.

In my head, the office caught on fire, and decided to pretend everything is normal.

I often imagine life, way harder than it is.

It’s possible nobody thought twice about it but me.

I am eager to see if they come back positive and nobody noticed.

Your heaven deciding vote is not AGT.

Unpause