Form Over Function


I reckon a lot of people think that the wheel is mankind’s greatest invention. It’s allowed us to move heavy objects to and fro, sit in traffic on high speed roadways, and even amuse children in various ways.

But me? I disagree. I think it’s the form. Nobody heads out on the highway and thinks, “Wow! Look at all those wheels!” or “Thank God I don’t have to drag this oven over thirty miles of rocky ground!” But give someone a form to fill out and you’ll got some kind of response. Not a good one, usually, but you’ll get one. Usually along the lines of, “Not another freakin’ form to fill out!”

You can’t do anything without filling out paperwork and signing your name to it. Not a damn thing. You can’t apply for credit, lease an apartment, or buy a car without filling out reams and reams of paperwork. Most of the time, it’s the same information that you’re filling out. Want to go see the doctor? Fill out these forms! The same forms you filled out last time! Remember when you could just grab the “Help Wanted” sign from a window and get a job? Not anymore. Nope, now you gotta fill out forms. The government is all up in your business and want part of that money you’re making. Think you can just fill out a check and be done with it? Nope! You gotta fill out forms. Forms! FORMS! More forms! Long forms! Short forms! Fill ’em all out!

I’ll be the first form to be filled out was invented two and half minutes after the first Mesopotamian figured out how to press vague forms into a clay tablet. Hell, it may have been the reason why writing was invented. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

We’ve gotten so good with forms that you can now fill them out online. And virtually sign them. With a signature that isn’t yours! There’s no telling what the future of forms will be like.

With any luck, all pertinent information about an individual will be saved on their phone, or a chip implanted in the skull. Then, filling out a form will involve nothing more than slapping your hand on a tablet and having all that information automatically inserted into the form where it needs to go. We’re almost there now, I guess.

Of course, if any of that information changes (address, yearly salary, etc.) then it’ll need a new form to be filled out to update it. Probably.

My life has been full of forms, lately. You can probably tell.

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It’s Been A Long Time


Maybe not incredibly long, but still pretty long. But, you know, life gets busy and I have to start figuring out what I need to do versus what I want to do.

But, you see, I met someone. We met in the grocery store when she turned a corner and her cart bumped into mine. I looked at her for moment while she looked at me in minor surprise.

I grabbed the back of my neck and let out an “ooooooooh” kind of moan. She called me a fake and a lunatic and ever shook her fist at me. And then we laughed. Then we talked.

It turned out that she, too, enjoyed road trips to little towns and checking them out. She didn’t mind a bit that I took my camera along. She even helped me juggle lenses and pointing out interesting things that I hadn’t noticed.

We would try out the little eating spots that most towns seem to have. At least one. Some have quite a few more, even if there isn’t a ‘downtown’ area. For the most part they were always pleasant experiences and it’s a lot more fun doing those kind of things with someone else, rather than on my own.

None of that is true, by the way. It’s all made up. It’s still just me.

So what has been taking up all my time? I’ve been looking for a house. For me, this is not an easy task. It could be, if I weren’t who I am. But I am. So that makes even the simplest thing a huge undertaking. Considering looking for a house, and buying one, is a huge undertaking being me just makes it twice that much

The biggest problem I have is that I don’t really know what I want. What makes it worse is that I know it doesn’t matter what I want. No matter what I get, as long as there’s enough room for my computers, the birds, and all the crap I have, then I’ll be fine.

That’s kind of a lie, too. There are actually two things I’d like out of a house and property, and they absolutely can’t exist together.

For instance, I would like a lot of land. I did, in fact, have my eye on a house on 10 acres. It was great. The house was kind of a mess, but the land was wonderful. There would be a lot of room to walk around and take pictures and stuff. I don’t know what else I would be doing with 10 acres, but it still would have been great. In the end, it turned out that getting Internet would be a problem. Satellite would be the only option and that doesn’t really work for me.

The other thing I would like is to be close to a downtown area. Close enough that I could just walk to the town square. It would be super handy for when the town had a festival (they all have a festival of some kind, at some point during the year).

Obviously, I can’t have both. Unless I have so much land that it would fit a small town. But there’s no way I could afford that.

So, right now I’m looking at a place that doesn’t fit either of those criteria. How amusing is that?

I’ve been spending a lot of time on this, including looking at houses after work and getting home late. Combine that with working late a lot and it doesn’t leave me with much energy to do anything on the weekends.

To say I’m tired, exhausted, would be an understatement.

And, of course, November is coming up. I had some ideas for NaNoWriMo this year, which is a switch for me, but I don’t even know if I could consider attempting it what with all that’s going on.

Low Bar For Exit


Abby’s was cancelled. Last month, actually. Abby’s, if you’re not familiar, is a sitcom about an ex-marine woman who runs a bar in her backyard. It’s kind of like Cheers, where there’s a wacky assortment of regulars and hi-jinks ensue.

Abby’s is a bit different, in which Abby has a long (unspecified) list of rules that must be followed, regulars get a chance to get perks, such as having a reserved seat at the bar or having a reserved mug or glass.

I thought it was funny. I’m guessing other people did not. I really like the idea of someone running a bar in their backyard, however illegal that may be. I wish I lived in a neighborhood where someone did that.

A place I could walk to and have some drinks. Talk to people and get to the know them. Be recognized when I arrive. Get stupid drunk and then walk home again.

I imagine I could walk over, go through the gate, and everyone would look over and yell out, “Hey, Les!” And that would be great, even though that’s not my name. I wouldn’t care, though. Then I could sit down and order a beer and drink it while people asked me about my day, and I asked about theirs.

Maybe I would meet a nice woman and we would strike up a conversation. We could talk about how we were both so horrible at small talk and laugh at how funny it was. Mostly because we’d both be pretty drunk by that point. Maybe she would like me well enough to go home with me. We could spend a sweet, sweet, minute making love. Maybe two minutes.

Afterwards, we could cuddle together and talk about little things. Like, I could mention the majestic mystery of the universe and how, billions of years ago the Big Bang created all the matter in the universe and flung it out across the universe so that, billions of years later, a series of giant, hot, burning balls of gas, billions of light years away from each other, would appear in the night sky of possibly the only planet with conscious life and appear as a common kitchen utensil.

Maybe, she would say, it didn’t happen that way. Maybe, thousand of years ago, there was a cave man trying to feed his family by scooping hot soup out of a clay cauldron with his hands, thinking there had to be a better way. Then he would have looked up at the night sky, saw the Big Dipper (or even the little one), and thought, if I could make something like that, it would be way better to use that than scooping hot liquid with these burning hands. And that’s why it’s better that the stars aligned in such a way to look like a ladle and not, say, a 30-inch, five burner Frigidaire range.

Then, I would point out, if a caveman was able to put together a five burner range, then we may have flying cars and moon bases by now. But she would have fallen asleep by then, her head against my shoulder.

It’s sad that it was cancelled before the first season was finished. Sometimes a show takes a while to gel. Like Jell-O. You can’t just whip up a batch of Jell-O and eat it right away, unless you like hot, fruity, soup. No, you have to put it in the fridge and leave it for a while. So it can gel. Well, I guess if you had super cooled water you could mix it with the Jell-O powder and eat it right away. I guess it’s possible. I’ve never tried it. Some shows just come together right away, like it was mixed with super cooled water. Those, I think, aren’t as common as the ones that need time to really come together.

In fact, some long running shows were in danger of being cancelled early. Like Cheers. It came in 74th out of 77 shows during it’s first season. That sucker grew legs, though, and ran for eleven seasons. Eleven years, that show entertained people.

So it’s a damn shame this one didn’t get to sit in the fridge a bit longer.

When Things Go Bad


It turns out that writing about the shows I watch takes up a lot of time. Time that could be spent doing other things. Like, watching those shows. Because I do have a large backlog. A backlog made worse by getting sidetracked by other shows (or movies) that I a) Just found out about b) forgot about or c) was something I was supposed to watch but forgot about until just now.

I figure it’d be easier just to make a huge list and you let you folks figure it out.

There is, however, one last show I’d like to mention. After that, I will complain because at least three of the shows I watched were cancelled. Finally, I’ll end this post with thoughts about cancelling shows in the modern era.

I remember when Stacked originally aired. I remember because I saw the ad, saw Pamela Anderson, and decided that it was probably no good. This is something I regret.

Years later, I was looking around Hulu for something to watch and came across Stacked again. I figured I’d at least watch the first episode, just to see how bad it was.

I watched the entire series in one sitting. It’s not too hard, because it’s not a lot of episodes (a very short first season followed by a prematurely ended second season). I laughed so hard at times that it surprised me. The cast is, I think, perfect. Well, let me at least mention what it’s about so you can get the gist.

Skyler (Pamela Anderson), is a party girl who is having trouble with her boyfriend and decides to get a job at the book store (because it’s ‘normal’) and give up the partying life.

The bookstore is own and run by two brothers. Gavin (Elon Gold), is the uptight one. A failed author and newly divorced father of two. Stuart (Brian Scolero) is more laid back, portly, and unlucky in love.

Katrina (Marissa Jaret Winokur) is the sassy barista who runs the in-store coffee shop.

Harold (Christopher Lloyd) is a kind of anti-Jim (Taxi reference). He’s a retired scientist who spends his time drinking coffee and reading newspapers.

If you have a Hulu account, I would encourage you to at least try and watch it. It may not be your cup of tea, and that’s okay. But if it is, you’re in for a good (if short) time.

One of my favorite shows was cancelled: Whiskey Cavalier. I’ve seen it referred to as a drama and a ‘dramady.’ To me, it’s pure comedy. The other two shows are The Tick and The Cool Kids.

It gets me to thinking, though, about cancelling shows in the modern era. Like, just what should you go by when deciding to give a show the axe?

We’ve seen movies tank at the box office, but then take off on home video. In this era of TV, where you’re not necessarily forced to watch a show when it airs, makes this prospect iffy.

What if, for example, oodles of people finally finish their back log of Game of Thrones, Supernatural, or whatever and decide to stream Whiskey Cavalier and it turns into a huge hit? Then what do you do? I mean, sure, if ratings are low now, it’s not going to help you now.

But I have no idea how streaming advertising works. I mean, aside from showing you the same Enterprise commercial four times in a row (Hulu, you’ve been doing this a long time and you still can’t figure out advertising? Can’t you try to hire someone that might know what they’re doing?).

I suppose there’s no room for future thinking, though, when your paycheck relies on what’s happening right now.

A Little Backwards, A Little Foward


I mentioned before that Amazon Prime is a treasure trove of old movies and TV shows. I should mention, too, that referring to a show from the 2000s as ‘old’ sort of kills me. It wasn’t that long ago, was it? Yes. Yes it was.

One of these old shows is Black Scorpion, a show I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now. I somehow missed this when it aired on the Sci-Fi Channel (pre-SyFy) in 2001.

The Black Scorpion TV series is a continuation of two movies that Roger Corman made for Showtime in the mid- to late-1990s. They were about a woman, Darcy Walker, who was a cop by day, but at night donned a skimpy black leather outfit and doled out justice as a vigilante crime fighter after her father (also a cop) is murdered. She’s helped by a guy named Argyle (played by the awesome Garrett Morris in the films), who’s a technological genius and modifies her Corvette to turn into a badder-assed Corvette with voice control and weapons.

The only place to start with this show is with the budget. I don’t think it had one. Not in the sense where the network said, “Do what you want and we’ll write you a check.”, but rather in the way where the cast and crew had to empty their pockets and look around couch cushions for spare change. The show made heavy use of clips from the movies, even down to showing the same cop car crashes over and over. The police station is remarkably small, with a force consisting of four detectives and a chief. Sets are reminiscent of the original Batman TV show from the 1960s.

With that out of the way, it’s not a terrible show. It’s hokey and campy, sure. Several villains are created by the actions of the corrupt mayor. On the other hand, there’s a fairly equal divide of men and women villains.

Well, this one is taking forever to finish so I’m just gonna finish it. There’s actually more I’d like to write about it, though. Just not now.

Not Just A Fantasy


One of the things I forgot to mention (I think; I don’t actually read these things) about The Greatest American Hero is that they were thinking of rebooting the series not too long ago. The big difference would have been having a female hero. I think it would have been a great idea. Evidently, this was an idea they were toying with back in the late 1980s, also. If I remember the Wikipedia article correctly, at the end of the third season they had an un-aired episode where the suit would have been handed off to some woman. I’m hoping it’s in the Amazon collection I’m watching now.

Now, not all shows I watch are superhero shows. A few of them aren’t sci-fi or fantasy based. Let’s check those out.

I do watch Bull, even though I’m not sure if I’m supposed to, what with ex-NCIS star Michael Weatherly’s behavior towards Eliza Dushku. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised it’s still on.

Bull is about a guy who has a company based around the idea that you can help (or hurt) court cases by manipulating the jury selection process, hiring people who are remarkably similar to the jury members, and then monitoring those ‘clones’ to figure out how the real jury is responding to their arguments.

I guess I watch it because I like to hope that there’s somebody, somewhere, that will fight for the ‘little guy.’ Bull’s team does that. And manages to solve crimes when the police can’t. Maybe this is kind of fantasy oriented.

The Neighborhood
I can’t find a picture with everyone in it

The Neighborhood is a show I didn’t want to start watching. It just didn’t seem like something I’d be into, what with a Wonder Bread family moving into a house in a black neighborhood. But Beth Behrs is in it, so I had to give it a try.

I think it’s pretty funny most of the time. Sheuan McKinney and Marcel Spears really rock it as Cedric The Entertainer’s sons. The whole cast really works well together, though.

I don’t remember ever hearing anything about Brooklyn Nine-Nine until after it was cancelled and then resurrected on a different network (which was, if I remember correctly, the network that it was originally pitched to).

After the brouhaha, I thought I’d check it out and see what it was all about. I haven’t stopped watching it, so that’s a good sign. Watching Terry Crews talk about Terry in the third person is pure gold.

One day I had thought I had run out of things to watch, so I poked around Hulu until Superstore popped up. I’m all in favor of making fun of big box stores like Walmart, so I gave it a go.

It’s probably the only 30 minute sitcom that makes me feel equally sad and happy while watching it.

It’s like high school, only in a retirement community

The last sitcom (I think) I watch is The Cool Kids. As I get older, I guess I appreciate seeing people who are older than me still doing things. Like walking. But with a cast that includes Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier, Martin Mull, and Leslie Jordan, it’s hard to go wrong.

Leslie Jordan is the only one I’m not familiar with, the others I’d been watching for ages in one way or another. Anyway, the show is basically about a bunch of high school loser types, but in a retirement home and all that entails. It shows that some people can get older without ever growing up. And it’s fantastic for it.

Okay, well, this one took a long time to write so I’m going to wrap it up. There’s still a lot of shows left to go through. To make matters worse, I finally remembered about the DC Universe streaming service and the shows on that. Then Disney announced their Disney+ streaming service, which looks like it could keep me occupied for an eternity. But I’ll get to those later.

TV Overloading Explained


One person asked me to share which shows I’m actually watching. They didn’t ask in the comments, though, because very, very, very few special people comment on my posts. I think that’s enough interest to share, however.

I should also explain that the 26 shows I referenced in the last post are just the current shows that I’m watching. It doesn’t include the old or cancelled shows that I’m also going through. I’m not sure how to count that up, so I won’t.

But I should include them when I’m sharing which shows I do watch. Should I write about those first? Or last? I think I’ll do them first. There may only be two at the moment so that’ll be easy.

At this point, I’d like to point out that Amazon Prime is an absolute gold mine of old and questionable movies. By ‘questionable’, I mean movies that, as a kid, I had seen in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of the local video store. Movies that had titles like “Death Stalker” and featured a cover with Frank Frazetta (or Frazetta-like) illustrations of nearly naked men and women brandishing swords and fighting monsters. Movies that I was sure my dad would never, ever, let me rent. In a way, they were like mythical creatures that I could see evidence of, but never see in the flesh (so to speak).

But Amazon Prime has ’em. Forbidden World, Galaxy of Terror, The Company of Wolves, Ator, the Fighting Eagle, Galaxina, The Warrior and the Sorceress, and not just Death Stalker, but also Death Stalker II. And so much more.

So, let’s start there and with a show I turn to when I want something lighter, something without commercials.

The Greatest American Hero (believe it or not)

The Greatest American Hero is a show about a school teacher, his lawyer girlfriend, and an FBI agent. Aliens dropped off a ‘super suit’ for Ralph (the teacher) to wear, and Bill (the FBI agent) to manage. Pamela (the girlfriend) is brought in relatively early knowing about the suit. The hook is that the suit came with a set of instructions that Ralph promptly lost.

I liked the show as a kid. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen it since it originally aired. I’ve watched the first season so far, and aside from major plot things, didn’t remember much of it at all. I don’t think it’s aged badly, either. I still find it funny (although I find I a lot of things funny that other people don’t).

One thing I’ve been paying more attention to is the women in shows. What with things happening currently in Hollywood and other places. I’d like to mention, then, that Pam isn’t just the girlfriend. She’s also a lawyer who doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Let’s go more current for the next one.

Super

Supergirl is one of those ‘guilty pleasures’ things. Actually, almost all the shows on the CW are. The funny thing is, I’m not really a fan of DC comics in general. I’m not a Superman fan, because he seems a little overpowered to me. I figured I’d watch an episode of Supergirl, maybe two, then that would be it.

I found the show the be hysterical, though. Mostly it was due to Kara trying to get a handle on saving people and bringing physics into the game. Like, in the comics you might see Superman lift up an ocean liner. However, in the real world, his arms would go right through the hull because there’s not enough surface area to hold the weight. These are things that Supergirl learned. The hard way.

Even after she got done with the growing pains I kept on watching it because it’s sort of a soap opera. Actually, almost all the shows on the CW are.

Arrow — “Life Sentence” — Image Number: AR623b_0061.jpg — Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Arrow. Originally, Olivier Queen went around and straight up murdered people with sharp flying sticks. And it was awesome, because, these days, superheroes generally try to put people in jail. So they can escape. So they can catch ’em again. It’s sort of like job security.

As the show went on, Ollie learned that killing was bad so now he doesn’t do that. Much. I guess. I mean, a lot of people get the snot beat out of them. A lot of people get shot with… maybe bullets? I’m not sure. It, too, has turned into a soap opera with capes.

Which brings us to the third soap opera: The Flash. Barry Allen is the fastest man, alive. Maybe, but probably not, because they keep adding more and more ‘speedsters’ to the mix.

He also refuses to learn any lessons, so that’s something. It’s a lot more light-hearted than The Arrow, though, and full of humorous bits so I keep on watching it.

Also, they do a crossover show every season and those are pretty epic.

The Collective Rejects

And then there’s Legends of Tomorrow, a show so off the rails that I couldn’t stop watching even if I wanted to. This show takes the cast-offs of the other shows (and at least one failed show), puts them on a ‘time ship’ and has them fix anomalies in time, when they aren’t making things worse.

Demons, wizards, killer unicorns, and a god based on a Tickle-Me-Elmo ripoff. A man screams, asking what happened to his nipple. The tough guy pyromaniac writes erotic science-fiction in his spare time. John Constantine wants a cigarette, but he can never get one lit.

This is a show that doesn’t take itself seriously and it really works. It’s a stupid show, but in a clever way that works.

I think I’ll end this one here, then. There’s still a lot more to go.