My take on the 2011 shows

We’ve hit mid-season, which means, I suspect, that my friends are waiting to hear which of the new fall shows I’ve really enjoyed, which ones stink, etc.

Of course, I probably should’ve done this weeks ago, because your viewing habits have already been set for the season.

At the beginning of the fall, I mentioned the shows I was most interested in: Terra Nova, Once Upon A Time, Grimm, Pan Am and Ringer.

Which ones do I still care about?

The only one I look forward to every week is Once Upon a Time. I’m rooting for this little town of curses fairy tale characters, and well, it’s got Jane Espenson, and I tend to root for her, too. Emma Caulfield is going to be on it in a few weeks, so, we can check in with her.  It’s charming, and I really want to know how it all works out.

I’m still limping along with Terra Nova and Ringer, but, without much enthusiasm. Terra Nova had an ok pilot, but I remained unconvinced. At this point, it feels mostly tedious to me, and I’m finding it hard to swallow my disbelief. They were sent into the past to save the future? But, the future is still sucking, so, why do they keep sending people? Don’t they (the future) know it pretty much already failed? Dumb.

Ringer is convoluted and is much more soapy than I’d like. The supposedly dead twin is increasingly unlikable, and I’m not entirely sure I care about any of them any more.

Pan Am was, well, boring. Sure, there’s espionage going on, and people are having affairs, but, somehow, I wasn’t compelled to watch after the first episode. Grimm was much the same, even if, admittedly, I like the pilot better than the Pan Am pilot. It might be a show I check out again later. I think it has some identity issues, and it’s trying to be a blend of humor, pathos and horror like Buffy was, but, it’s not managing the tonal shifts with nearly the Buffy’s deftness. Which is disappointing, since David Greenwalt is there, and he was a longtime Buffy writer, and co-creator on Angel.

Strangely, a show I hadn’t heard too much about has also earned my interest. I should’ve paid more attention earlier, because it’s Tim Minear’s new show, American Horror Story.  It’s about a family who unknowingly moves into a house with more ghosts than the Stanley Hotel. It’s creepy, and it’s hard to know what is and isn’t real. Several of the people introduced from the beginning aren’t even alive. We only anticipated a few of those, and it’s just gotten weirder. Don’t watch this if you aren’t a fan of scary movies. It’s pretty warped. The best news, if you’re a Tim Minear fan?  The ratings have been on a steady growth pattern, and it’s already gotten a full season order. Maybe his “curse” has been lifted with the show about a cursed house.

I’ve also peeked in at Unforgettable, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, with Michael Emerson, and Revenge.  Unforgettable is ok, but too reliant on its gimmick. Blue Bloods struck me as a very typical cop show, and I don’t care too much about ordinary cop shows. Person of Interest is the best of this bunch, and has a J.J. Abrams pedigree, which, for me, could be an asset or a detriment. It’s watchable, but, seems largely unremarkable. Except, of course, that I just remarked on it.

At any rate, that’s my take on the new fall shows. I’m looking forward still to the River, to premiere in January.

Word of the Day: alembic

I’ve missed you all, and I’ve been working on a bunch of things to surprise and delight you. At least, I hope so.

To this end, I’m going to be making the Word of the Day more of a Word of the Week, published on Tuesdays.  I’m sorta attached to calling it the Word of the Day, though. If you disagree, well, I’d love to hear from you.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The ratings for several aging reality shows have been declining steadily over the years, leading producers to think about ways to rejuvinate these series. Series centered on large families have been especially hard hit, and some of the normal twists used on other series have now been employed for these home-life based shows.

One technique imported to the world of multiple multiples, was eliminating some of the “cast.” In this case, if a child or other family member (such as a family pet) is not pulling his, her, or its ratings weight, the ratings bomb will be eliminated from the household, and forced to live in the basement, away from all the cameras.

Some thought it was excessively cruel to put the family members up for a popular vote, as the “less attractive” and “more introverted” members were usually the first to be sent “to the basement.”

This tactic led to several unintended consequences, as some of the family members started to do every thing they could to be eliminated so they could get off the show. After getting to “4 kids and counting,” from 19, the Duggar family was suddenly not nearly as interesting, and were “practically normal,” and therefore, boring. This disaster led to the decision to release those that had been banished to the basement.

Another idea borrowed to boost ratings was having judges critique the parenting skills displayed, and evaluate which of the poor parenting techniques will eventually cost the children the most in psychologist fees.

In a crossover extravaganza, the Duggar family and the Gosselins went on a road trip to the Roloff farm in Oregon, where they all spent three weeks living off the land as though it were the 1800s. The families had to capture their own food, cook it on wood stoves, use out houses, and protect their simple shelters and livestock from horse thieves and other criminals.

Roloff patriarch Matt planned to spend most of his three weeks trying to add a pirate ship to the little temporary settlement, and to build an alembic, thereby making it possible to make alcohol out of pine trees, for “medicinal purposes.”

The idea caused the group to splinter into groups over the “booze issue,” and has led to a ratings bonanza.


I wrote this months ago, before the Duggars announced baby #20, and before the Roloffs had retired from their life in front of the camera. Still, I think this works.

alembic / ah – LEM – bik / an apparatus used in distillation 2. something that refines or transmutes as if by distillation.

The End of the Relationship

I’ve finally broken up with Chuck.

No, not a fellow with whom I’ve had a romantic relationship, but rather that show on NBC.

It was likely bound to happen. The Buy More is a large part of this rift, it’s been a sore spot since the beginning, because I’ve always hated his non-spy coworkers. They were never funny; just awkward and pointless.  Mostly, they made my flesh crawl every time they showed up on screen. I kept hoping the writers would get a clue and kill them or maim them or simply forget about them and stop writing reasons for them to show up, but, no. They just keep on appearing.

And, while Chuck’s best pal Morgan started off being as horribly annoying as those two schleps whose names will not sully my mind or my blog, he started to redeem himself somewhat when he started growing up and having something more interesting to do besides harass Chuck.

Except that, just about the time they’d given him a likeability makeover, they made him the new Chuck. I tied to give them a chance, I dutifully watched the season premier, to see how all the game-changing, season-ending developments were handled, and find out what their “new normal” would be for the last season, but, it turns out, I hated it. Morgan has never had the sweet vulnerability that made the title character compelling. He lacks Zachary Levi’s charm, and given that they started the character of Morgan as a selfish, childish, jerk, now that he has been given the MacGuffin-spy power mojo, he just feels like an unsympathetic guy who just got everything he ever wanted, but, he didn’t, in any way, earn it. Chuck the character was set up with some native talent, and was established from the pilot as being a kind guy, who’s worked hard, but hadn’t managed to do more than find a “pay the bills” job at the Buy More.  Morgan always just looks like he’s a hair’s breath from an unseemly shout of  “Yahoo! I’m finally a superhero! I so deserve this!”

And then there’s the ridiculous situation of having money, and then not, and then no longer being agents of the government, and all of them deciding to “stay together as a team and fight the bad guys.”  Really? John Casey has been largely wishing he could get out of this assignment for the whole show. And now, he’s voluntarily staying with them, just because? Yeah. There’s really only so much disbelief I’m willing to suspend.

All of this adds up to a show I was no longer enjoying even a little. It had become a painful way to spend time, and a relief to just stop and pull the plug. So, I made a clean break of it, and I broke up with Chuck. I don’t even miss him. It is a weight from my conscience, and decent fodder for a blog post. Yahoo!

Word of the Day: febrile

I’ve been trying to shift the word of the day from a nightly post to an early morning post, but, wanted to wait until I’d gotten ahead enough with my story supply and could start on a Monday, to do that. I think that the having the Word of the Day first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day, something to get you out of bed in the morning, and make getting out of bed a little less painful. I’ve been wrong before.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Dateline: San Francisco. Just when you thought the saga of the baby found in the secret graveyard laboratory of Doctor Horrible couldn’t get any strange, the story has taken a new, even more bizarre twist.

The child, now being referred to as “Truman,” has been adopted by a group of documentary filmmakers.

The group had formed when Chase Klein, a documentarian who gained acclaim with his nature film “The Egrets Regret,” was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. He realized that the process of undergoing treatments for his disease was a good subject for a film, and contacted fellow documentary filmmaker Erin Copperfield to help him.

After a few months, Erin herself was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At times, this made it difficult for her to hold a camera or other equipment, so she contacted her cousin to move in with the duo and help with the project, which now included documenting her own deterioration.

News about their project spread, and soon, they had been joined by every documentarian with a deadly or debilitating disease in the country. The project now includes a gentleman with Huntington’s Disease, a lady with MS, several people with various cancers, a delighted hypochondriac and an ignoramus stricken with the heartbreak of chronic halitosis.

This group, now living in a large communal living complex, heard about the orphan discovered under strange circumstances, and decided that there could be no better place to raise the child than amongst the sick and dying.

While there was resistance to the idea, arguing that there were plenty of healthy couples looking to adopt a child, the group invited the other prospective parents to join them in their community, to make sure little “Truman” would not be abandoned should all the members of the community become unable to care for him as he got older.

“Mr. and Mrs. Poole are technically the adoptive parents, as they had already been registered as foster parents. They were very enthusiastic about their dream of having a child, and they also saw the advantages our community offered.” noted Copperfield. “We already look out for each other, and it’s a very creative and supportive environment, despite all the ills.”

“The nurturing environment will be more than enough to erase all traces of Truman’s horrible beginnings. Even better, should he ever feel remotely febrile, he has a wealth of people with experience in caring for the sick at his doorstep.”

The child will also be given the benefit of having every minute of his life documented, and is surrounded by his very own village of idiots.


Probably I’m the only one who remembers “The Egret’s Regret” from the first season of Family Ties. It was the documentary for which Mr. Keaton won a Murray award. Yes, I actually have thought about that fictional film since 1982. Yes, I am that sad.

febrile / FEE – brill / feverish.

Word of the Day: bezonian

I’d thought this story up when the award was announced, and planned to have it all written up and ready to go today, but I thought I’d have ages of time, and kept putting it off, until it was today. I don’t even yet have a word picked out. Gadzooks.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Protesters gathered outside the building where President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. The crowd was angry that the award had been given to Obama on very thin grounds.

The group believes that the Noble Prizes should not be given except to those that have accomplished something noteworthy, not to people that might do something, or to encourage them to follow-through with their best-laid plans. Many of those attending the protest feel that this year, the award should simply be renamed the “Thank God He’s Not George W Bush” Award.

“In that case, they should give it to everyone who’s not George Bush. All six billion of us. And, heck, if we all got a cash prize with it, I think that would make one heck of a stimulus package, and possibly money better spent than the bailout funds…”

“You might as well even give it to the bezonian Bernard Madoff. After all, he only stole money. He also didn’t start a war and is also not George W. Bush.”

“Mostly, I just want awards to mean something, and to really reward excellence. If there was no one that actually earned the award, it shouldn’t be given. It reminds me of that stupid award in the Simpsons. You know, ‘The First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence’ which Burns gave to Homer to make sure Homer didn’t sue the power plant. It *feels* the same. But, this is the *Nobel* prizes. They mean something. Or, at least, they used to mean something.”

The prize committee had no comment.

I think this was funnier before I wrote it.

bezonian / bee – ZONE – ee – ann /     a low fellow or scoundrel

Word of the Day: misopedia

I’ve had a very exhausting and weird end of the week. Yesterday, while in a pathetic state, my youngest sister asked me what she could to help. I jokingly replied, “You could write a Word of the Day,” She said “okay,” and wrote the following. I didn’t get it posted last night, but save it for today. My sister says it was inspired by the movie “Hot Lead and Cold Feet,” but, that isn’t the only inspiration, as you’ll see as you read…

Today’s Word:


As in:

Just when you thought your “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ fatigue couldn’t reach further depths, sources close to the couple announced that Jon Gosselin would be undergoing treatment in a psychiatric facility. This vaguely interesting development came after Jon made a most peculiar announcement. The reality show refugee stated in a recent poorly attended press conference: “I never wanted to leave Kate and the kids! All this was done by my evil twin brother! For the last several months, he has kept me locked in an abandoned house. This is all his fault!”

This bizarre statement came on the heels of legal action by Jon’s attorney, who has been working to stop filming for the highly rated reality show. Jon began the proceedings when he learned that TLC had decided to change the title of the show to “Kate Plus 8” and to reduce Jon’s role in the series. Many believe this is wild story is simply an act of desperation, and that Jon is again trying to avoid blame in the failure of his marriage.

“He simply can’t accept that he keeps making the situation worse for himself! Seriously, spending time with dozens of different younger women in compromising situations; refusing to even look for a job; blaming everything on Kate and her own personality flaws… An evil twin? That’s the oldest dodge in the book.  He just wants back on the gravy train and he doesn’t want to have to take any blame.”

Friends of Kate Gosselin revealed that “Kate is very saddened by Jon’s extremely rapid mental decline. She is working with the courts to have Jon declared legally incompetent until he can learn to tell the truth and quit dating her doctors’ daughters. Kate is also looking forward to moving forward with “Kate Plus 8” once Jon is safely in a hospital that can keep him from being a danger to her and her children.” Others say that if you substituted “children” with “income,” you’d be closer to the real source of her “fears.”

Jon continues to insist that his hitherto unknown twin brother emerged from hiding in 2007, just after the first episodes of the show aired. Jon states that this twin started to demand money from Jon to keep himself “in cheese and crackers.”

This twin, who is small and whiny, (or, nearly identical to Jon) is called Eli, and he was raised in an orphanage. Eli had a difficult childhood, and, as a result, developed a severe form of misopedia.

Jon claims he grew weary of the emotional blackmail from his brother and tried to break off ties, at which time his brother kidnapped him and took his place in the Gosselin house. “He lost me my job, he started getting me in fights with Kate, and he made me look like a totally incompetent boob on national television! He must be stopped!”

One person commented that this ridiculous tale was probably just another ploy to keep the family in the news, and that this family has gotten addicted to seeing themselves on TV. Another remarked that “well, this was probably the same reason why they had sextuplets after having a set of twins in the first place.”


Type to you next week.

misopedia / mis – OH – pee – dee – ah / a severe dislike of children, esp one’s own

Word of the Day: lepusphobia

I’ve been trying to catch up on a million other things, so, I’m treating you to the  tribute I wrote for Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, one of the best shows to ever appear on television (if you’re rolling your eyes, you probably never watched it. Even T.V.  Guide lists it as one of the top 50 shows ever.), I present to you…

Today’s word:


As in:

The Department of Homeland Security has been working to identify potential threats to the welfare of the country. In addition to fostering paranoia, invading privacy and redefining the status of individuals to facilitate lengthy incarcerations, the department is cracking down on potential threats previously deemed inconsequential.

The re-categorization of things previously deemed insignificant as threats to national security has noticeably increased the rates of phobias once regarded as obscure. Most curious is the reported increase in lepusphobia, which grew an astonishing 173%.

Dr. A. Overheiser, a noted behavior modification specialist with expertise in unusual phobias, has attributed this growth, in part, to the unusual intersection of what sufferers describe as the “current climate of fear” in conjunction with the changing perception that truly dangerous threats are disguised as the most humble and innocent of creatures. One patient, who identified herself as Christina Emanuella Jenkins, said “Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes.”

While Dr. Overheiser is quick to point out that phobias are by definition “inexplicable, illogical and exaggerated fears,” only a handful of lepusphobes were known to exist until a few years ago. “I am at a loss to explain why this particular phobia has seen such growth. It’s quite mystifying.”

Although Dr. Overheiser is uncertain of the origins of this fear, noted biology expert Daniel Osbourne further commented that “they might not look it, but bunnies can really take care of themselves.”

* * * * * * *
I miss Buffy.

lepusphobia / LEP – uhs – FOEB – ee – ah / fear of rabbits, of course.

“Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” characters are TM and Copyright of Fox
and its related entities.

Word of the Day: curmurring

Since last week’s “Ghost Hunters” inspired tale was well received, my brain hatched another one, just in time for date night. Come with me as we take a look into the world of the paranormal, hearing the thoughts of the ghosts themselves.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Grant: We’re not going to hurt you, we just want you to give us a sign that you’re here.

What the Ghost is thinking: “Sure. Like you *could* hurt me. What part of “dead” do you NOT get?”

Jason: “I’ve got a flashlight here, maybe you could turn it off for me? That is if you are here? Come on, turn off the light!”

The Ghost thinks: “What am I, a trained seal? You’re not the boss of me. Why would I want to touch your stupid light.”

Grant: “Some people think you’re a coward. Let’s show them! Turn off that flashlight! Unless, of course, you’re a chicken?”

Ghost: “Why those punks! They called me a… Hey! Wait a minute. They just want me to turn off that light. Not fooling me, bubba. Nope. I didn’t die yesterday, you know.”


Brian: “Como estas? Ghostie? Habla Español?”

Ghost: “That’s Hilarious. They think the Brazilian ship captain is still here. Idiot. HE SPOKE PORTUGUESE you imbecile! And he wasn’t sticking around this dump for eternity, I’ll tell you that much. He had better things to do.”

Steve: “I bet it gets lonely up here with no one to talk to. I’m here. I’ll talk with you. Now’s your chance.”

Ghost: “Why would I want to talk to you? It’s much more fun to rattle my chains when there aren’t any cameras about. After all, the unsuspecting are vastly more amusing. I don’t act on cue, silly mortal!”

Brian: “Hey! Did you hear that sound? that sorta rumbling sound? I think that might’ve come from over there.”

Ghost: “That?! You thought THAT was some sort of paranormal sound? That could be no more or less than your own curmurring! Eat something you shouldn’t have, did you? SOOOOOO glad I can’t smell anymore. I feel bad for that other fellow…”

Grant: “Let’s get the lights on and pack-up.”

Ghost: “Wait! Don’t leave! You guys were fun! The night is still young! Come back! Guys! Hey, I’ll talk to you now! Guys!”


curmurring / cur – MUR – ing / the murmuring, low rumbling sound produced by the flatulence moving through the bowels… Yeah. I swerved a bit into the land of potty humor. Oh well.

Word of the Day: anamnesis

I had a head filled with story ideas today for the first time in ages, and many of them will be coming soon. This one is decidedly odd. I suspect you all might find it a very strange choice indeed.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Brighton J Josten is pursuing a highly unusual dream. Josten, 47, is a lifelong fan of the television show, “The Simpsons.” His dream? To honor the fab five in an original, live-action stage production.

“There are millions of people out there who’ve never watched an episode of this brilliant comedy, for whatever reason. Some people have bought into the various controversies, and failed to see the show for what it truly is. I want to present the show without the controversy, and maybe grow the show’s audience.”

Josten, however, has run into controversy of his own.

“Most fans think a live-action Simpsons is something akin to a sacrilege. They say without the animation and, most importantly, the voice talent, I’m wasting my time. Since I’m reaching out to people who’ve never seen the show, I won’t be fighting any residual anamnesis. These people will have no knowledge of what the voices *should* sound like. They’ll also have no experience of the more “cartoony” facets of the show, so, I can present things more “realistically.”

Because of the copyright issues involved with using “The Simpsons,” a property of Fox, Josten has called the project, “The Jostens,” and is making the show a drama. Gone will be the trademark zingers, famous character quotes, and theme music. Josten insists the changes are “superficial,” and that, at its core, “The Simpsons” has always been about the struggles of a middle-class American family, who, despite their imperfections, always stay together and love each other.

Josten begins the casting process next week. The actors who’ve seen portions of the script for audition purposes had no hints that the play was loosely based on the popular long-running television show. Said one actress trying for the part of Margaret Josten, the youngest Josten daughter, “I’ve got like 20 lines of dialog in the opening Act alone. This is nothing at all like “The Simpsons.” It’s really pretty heavy stuff, too. Like, wow. A complete downer. The father’s a barely literate knuckle-dragger who beats his kids, especially his son. Somehow he’s managed to remove all of his wife’s self-esteem, so she never leaves him, and despite his incompetence and idiocy, he manages to keep his highly technical job? It’s really messed-up. I just thought it was like avant-garde.”

Other critics have emerged, “Seriously? This guy calls himself a fan of ‘The Simpsons?’ He’s completely missing the point. Take away the animation, and the show is too brutal to be seen. It’s like he’s trying to link himself to the show to bring in audiences, or gain press, but, those who come expecting to see anything remotely *like* the show will not only be disappointed, they’re likely to be traumatized.”

Not much more to say about that.

anamnesis  / ann – am – NEE – sus/ the recalling of things past; recollection, reminiscence.

Word of the Day: pareidolia

This is starting to look like 2 for 2. Yay! This story was, in part, inspired by “date night” which is every Wednesday night at my house. On Wednesday night, my sisters and I sit in front of the TV and watch Ghost Hunters together, mocking it without mercy via instant message. This Wednesday happens to be 09/09/09, so, it seemed that pairing numerology with the paranormal is an obvious fit.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Tonight on Ghost Hunters: The team is joined by the winner of our first ever viewer drawing, Andrew Kahler, as they investigate a former factory turned museum. Could it be that some workers never left?  Then, Tango and Steve find themselves facing their worst fears in an ancient, abandoned hospital. That’s all coming up on tonight’s Ghost Hunters!

The Investigation
The Wyatt Factory, 9:09 PM Sept. 9, 2009

Andrew: Guys, this is *so* awesome to be here with you tonight! Man, I *love* the show. Do you remember that one time, when Grant’s jacket was yanked? Man, that was *so* cool!

Grant: Yeah, Andrew, that was great. We should probably be paying attention to the investigation.

Andrew: Sure thing, boss. Hey! Do you guys see that face over there? Look! Oh, man!

Jason: I don’t see anything, sorry. Grant?

Grant: Nope, I think that’s just the light reflecting off the paint.

Andrew: But, look, it’s got a nose, and part of a mouth, and that there could be an eye.

Grant (tilting his head): Um. Well, I guess if you’re Picasso, maybe, but, really that’s just a reflection.

Andrew: Seriously, guys, that’s totally a face!

Jason: No. It’s really not a face. It’s nothing.

Andrew: Well, maybe the cameras caught something.

Grant: Sure. You can go over the evidence with Tango and Steve.

The Evidence:

Andrew: Guys! Look! Do you see that! Right there! It’s an orb! It’s moving, and it’s red!

Steve: I’m pretty sure that’s just a lens flare. Yeah. See, here?

Andrew: Woah! Look here! I found something! Look here. There’s a face in the floor right here. It looks exactly like that dead kid they mentioned!

Tango: Nope. That’s just the wood grain.

Steve: Look, we’ve got 20 hours of footage to go through, We can’t stop every 2 seconds to look at something that looks vaguely like a face.

Andrew: Well, I’m going to make sure Grant and Jason take a look at these

Tango: Yeah. Whatever. Sure.

Grant: I agree with Steve and Tango, there’s nothing here. I think, Andrew, you may have an extreme case of pareidolia. We’ve seen it before. You see it in those people who have found rutabagas looking like Jay Leno, or who see the face of the Virgin Mary in taco shells and…

Andrew: I saw that taco shell, and not only was the Virgin Mary clearly defined, but, on the other side was Christ and His disciples. Judas even had horns!

Grant: Yeah, right. Like I said. You might want to talk to someone about it. It’ll probably make things easier for the people that you know…


pareidolia / pair – EYE – doe – lee – ah /  a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague stimulus which is perceived as clearly being something