Saturday, March 31, 2012

Everett Thinks You Should Bundle Up If You Go Out Today

Because it is a tad chilly out there. And well, he bundled up and had himself a delightful walk.

As for that walk. . .

It was delightful, especially when we encountered some friendly wildlife.

Hope your Saturday has been wondrous.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Finally Saw The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale. . .

Unnecessary, but if I don't do it then someone will inevitably bitch, spoiler warning.

Wow, that is how you cap off a season full of zombies. You completely destroy the main setting of the past season, while unleashing a raving horde of zombies, then reveal a cool new character, and then leave a whole lot of tantalizing teasers for next season. Oh yes, there is definitely teasers. Will the group split up, just like I've been constantly guessing over and over, and continually been wrong about for the last two seasons? Once they finally find that enormous fortress, will they find people there and will those people be all huggy and lovey? Will Andrea get her own armless zombies for pets? And is that mysterious hooded figure destined to be the next coolest character in all of TV? Can Lori possibly get more annoying and unlikable? Who is flying that damn helicopter? Why did the zombies all migrate to the farm? When the heck did Herschel become so bad ass?

I felt it was a rather satisfying conclusion to what I felt was bit of a hit or miss season. I wonder if the show would be better suited to only about 6 episodes a season. The first season was fantastic, but it was also incredibly short. They extended this season to 13 episodes, and it had some moments of brilliance, but it also has sometimes it dragged. The first half that consisted of the search for Sophie was really strong, but then I felt the second half started to drag until they got to the Dale's death episode. Then they amped up the action and emotion, and finally caused for some chaos and panic to overcome the farm. The final Shane and Rick confrontation was intense, and it led to a pretty action packed (and bloody) finale. The standoff at the farm gave me everything I could have expected, and the torched barn was a rather fitting end to that place. Now, the group is full of tension now, and there is an appropriate amount of danger and panic since they lost their place of comfort. There is a lot of potential for an awesome third season.

The Andrea and stranger story arc should be an interesting one. Did the hooded stranger come from the fortress? Or is she a nomad? Will Andrea carry any bitterness when she finds out her tribe has abandoned her? Actually, she may not be too happy to find out her last ally, Shane, is worm food, either.

Though I loved the big zombie showdown and I love the potential for next season, there was a few glaring flaws in the finale. The kid who played Carl shouldn't be in put in spots to convey intense emotion, but rather just be left firing his gun and baiting zombies. His big scene was pretty weak, and it caused me and Emily to laugh rather then get caught up in the moment -- like we were supposed to. I also still haven't figured out if Lori is really supposed to be such a punchable character, or if the writers are just missing the mark with her. She pushes Rick to take out Shane, and then totally works up Shane into a fervour (playing both sides), but she is upset that Rick was forced to kill him? How clueless can she be? I also felt the final Rick monologue was a little forced, and it didn't have the impact that I think was supposed to be there. I actually felt he was being a little annoying and irrational, and not sure why he chose that moment to drop the bomb that he killed his best friend.

I honestly, did love the finale. It gave me what I wanted, and has me stoked for next season. I am assuming it won't come around until Halloween again. What a painful wait for the awesome that should be brewing.

Oh wait. . .

I also love that they finally revealed the big cliff-hanger left from the first season finale. I totally forgot that Jenner whispered something in Rick's ear. It was cool to be reminded of that, and finally get the big payoff. I think, it would be pretty believable that Rick wouldn't reveal that information right away, but also understand why the group was a little upset he withheld it. It is now clear that the "walker" epidemic is some type of viral spread, and all survivors are carrying the disease. That was a pretty cool twist, and one I expected, but I liked it just the same.

I'm looking forward to season 3, and it looks like we'll have a bit more action packed season. This one capped off in a great way, and reminded me how great this show can be when it is hitting the right groove. I also like the fact I have no idea where things are going, because I never read the comic. Though I hear it is going on a fairly different path. All I can guess, is a lot of the season will be stationed in the fortress, the hooded figure will be a major player, the group will continue to bicker, and zombies will be out for some of that sweet flesh.

What did you think about the finale or the second season?

An Ode to a Clingy Baby

Everett isn't actually terribly clingy. Or so I like to tell myself. He's just a big fan of his parent's company. And yes, I realize the paramount importance of socializing babies and getting them comfortable with new people. I'm not disputing that belief. But in today's "Dad's Eye View", I am explaining why I may not be in the biggest rush to get my baby comfortable with everyone else. And yes, it may be a slightly selfish reason. Or a completely selfish reason.

On a completely different note, I realize this blog is quickly becoming the "place I pimp my writing from everywhere else." And no, that isn't the goal for this blog or how I want things to continue. I've just been eating up enormous amounts of time doing marketing and pitching ideas to possible clients. On top of that, I've been writing my usual pay copy, which of course, includes the things I pimp on here (but there is other stuff that just isn't worth bringing your attention to either). Anyway, I hope to get this blog back into a regular groove, but for now, go read my "Dad's Eye View" column, already!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Will Wrestlemania XXVIII Make Wrestling Cool Again?

Wrestlemania XXVIII is this weekend. WWE has headlined the show with one of the most anticipated matches in a long time, John Cena vs. The Rock. The big return of The Rock has caught the attention of several wrestling fans that have gave up on wrestling years ago. The WWE is banking on this event to gross them mountains of money, and based off the projected buy rates and the tickets sold, it looks like they'll do pretty well for themselves. But will it make wrestling hot again? Is this the event that draws back all the old fans and creates tons more? Well, I discuss that very thing in today's Collective Publishing pop culture column.

Get My Son a Cape, Because He has a Super Power

Unless you're Edna Mode, who would be screaming "No Capes" at this moment. But my point here is not about the clothing accessories of a super hero. No, my point is my son totally has a super power. It has to be one of the most valuable super powers that any baby could have. I know it has saved Everett's life on many occasions. In today's "Dad's Eye View", I reveal this super power and discuss how it has made me love him even more. So go check that out, because you know you're curious.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Good Book Can Have Awful Fans

I haven't read The Hunger Games nor have I seen the movie. I've heard great things about both, and the box office records show the series is a genuine pop culture hit. As I'm learning by reading the Harry Potter series, just because a series is "the cool thing to like" doesn't mean it can't be a classic and a worthwhile piece of art. I do want to read the series, and when I do, I'll check out the film.

Being a great work doesn't mean you attract great fans. Being a pop culture phenomenon translates into attracting all kinds of people from the intellectual to the open minded to the bigots. Over on Jezebel, there is an article by Dodai Stewart who looks at Hunger Game fans that get their racism on. In a very, "hey let's all pretend it is 1950 again, and keep 'them' out of our soda shops" kind of racism. I am sure most Hunger Game fans are smart and accepting folks, and maybe even these particular folks are normally wonderful, but their response to the casting of particular characters has made them look like narrow minded asshats.

The article has some spoilers, so if you plan on watching the film real soon then you might want to pass until after. And most of the Twitter accounts mentioned in this article appear to have been deactivated, so I don't have any evidence that these people actually exist. I sort of hope I'm being duped by some parody article, but sadly, the sources point to this being the awful truth.

So, essentially you have several fans in an uproar because they went to see the movie and saw that some of their favourite characters were played by Black actors. Because "oh my god, they let those people act!" The problem seems to be these fans envisioned the characters as nice white folks, and were a little peeved to see the director thought differently than their vision. The funny thing is the book describes the main character as having "olive skin" but there isn't any protest that they cast a very white Jennifer Lawrence. The book also described some characters as dark skinned, but when their roles were cast by Black actors then there was frustration.

I'm guessing the reader glossed over the "dark skin" description and decided they preferred their characters to be ivory white. I realize some will automatically assume a character is white if the reader themselves is white and the author doesn't continually specify ethnicity. Maybe they were expecting the character to speak Ebonics or rap during intermittent parts of the novel to clarify their race?

Based off the description, I am sure Suzanne Collins did envision the characters to be black, and even for the main character to not be white either. It is just a matter of the readers prejudice showing through. Sure it is fine to envision a character as white, but it gets a little silly to be upset when your vision doesn't match. Especially when the text proves your vision was always wrong.

Anyway, enough of my rantings about a racist fan response to a film I haven't seen. Read the article, because it does some mighty fine analysis of a very annoying situation.

Monday, March 26, 2012

3 Months Old

Today is Everett's 3 month old birthday. To celebrate, let's look at pictures!

"I turn 3 months old and all I get is to be stuck in this giant carrier?"

They have so much in common.

"Woah, I'm totally getting old, dude."

Just chilling.

Now, that is a baby who loves his mobile.

A boy and his horse. . . er, dog.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Enjoy It Whilte It Lasts

It is the statement I've heard countless times since becoming a father. Over the last few months, I'm learning how true that statement really is. Everett grows so much every week, and there always seems to be new changes. At this point, I get closer to him and I begin to enjoy his company even more during each stage. I am sure that will change when he is whining about borrowing the car or trying to sneak in the house past 2 in the morning. I think I have a few more weeks before worrying about that. As of right now, I'm just reveling in the growth of my beautiful son. You can read about some of that very reveling in today's "Dad's Eye View." Check it out, and read about some of the fascinating stages in my son's growth.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Probably Doesn't Need to Be Said But. . .

Not blogging today.

My blogging output may be minimal over the next few days. So count this as my notification of absence over the next few days (weekend, I am looking at you). I'll post the "Dad's Eye View" link tomorrow, but not sure if there will be much more than that.

Of course, I could always get all the work I need done and be hit with a mighty dose of creative flair. In case that doesn't happen, take this as my public excuse for a neglected blog.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Some Interesting Thoughts on Why It Is Easy Being a White Straight Male

I'm a big John Scalzi fan, and a regular reader of his Whatever blog. I've referred you over before for some pure word goodness. He recently wrote a piece on why he is glad he is male, and presented several reasons why life is just easier being the sex with the extra appendage. I agree with his assessment fully, and think it is a great piece to check out. Since I've spent most of the day promoting my work, I thought it was only fair to pimp someone else as well.

I like this piece, because there seems to be a growing group that likes to complain how things are getting harder to be a white straight male. I think such groups are a hilarious example of inadvertent parody. Even if you add in things like affirmative action or exclusive benefits to "minorities", the fact is this is a society that favours and is geared towards your white straight male. This is due to many reasons such as how things have played out historically and of course, those who are mostly in power. We've progressed -- oh we've definitely progressed (a black President!). But there is still a stigma and a mindset that makes it far easier to be a white straight male. Not in all cases, but in many.

For example, I look at me and Emily being new parents. There are far more expectations on Emily and what she should do as a mother than there are on me and what I am expected to do as a father. I don't think it is fair. I do think there are higher expectations for fathers now, then there even was ten years ago, but there is still a heavier burden on women. I can change a few diapers and partake in an occasional bottle feed and I'm considered in the running for "Father of the Year." Emily could do the same amount of work as that, and she would be considered a piss poor mother. It is unfair. I would love to change that perception. Maybe some day it will change. I'd be a fool to think this isn't how many perceive the roles of the sexes.

Anyway, I can rant and rave about this another time. I want you to check out Scalzi's piece, because I agree with it totally. But I also just think it is a really well written and interesting look at the differences in the sexes.

Are Books Always Better Than the Movie?

It is one of the most common phrases I hear after someone watches a movie based off a book: "The book was better." But is it always true? Well, today's Collective Publishing article doesn't seem to agree with this statement. I pick out a few movies that were definitely better than the book they were adapted from. In some cases, the book was really good, but the movie just captured the story so much better. Or at least, that is what I am claiming. Check out today's pop culture article, and leave a comment over there to let me know if you think I am totally crazy or if you think I missed out your favourite movie.

Evidence I Am Really Just a Giant Sappy Suck

I am not really sure anyone was really debating over if I was a grizzled, tough guy or a giant, sappy suck. If you were, I thought it was time to really crush the debate and allow one side to claim complete victory. In today's "Dad's Eye View", I look at my first weekend away from both Emily and Everett. It may not have been the greatest weekend of my life. Check out today's "Dad's Eye View", and find out just how comfortable I got to being both a husband and a father.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Apparently Obligatory Sears Dishwasher Follow Up

I've been asked several times now about the status of my dishwasher. It seems like you can't blast out a rant about poor customer service and then fail to deliver the end result. As a writer, I realize an ending is a crucial part of the story, but as a man easily distracted, I sometimes leave blog posts dangling in the air without a satisfying end.

Here is your satisfying end.

Or so I am desperately hoping is the end of my dishwasher saga.

The dishwasher was delivered and installed on the same day of my rant, just like they promised (well, they didn't promise to install it on the day I tore apart their customer service, but rather I just happened to write the rant on the same day the delivery date was agreed upon). According to Emily who was with the installation guy (I was holed in my office with Summit who isn't a fan of strangers clomping through his house), the service was excellent and the guy actually did a great job of explaining features. Emily felt the installation process went better this time around. Though I'd still prefer to only have one dishwasher installed in the same spot over a three month span (now if it had been four months. . . ).

The big question is how does the dishwasher work? Well, the latch seems to be more solid this time around, and hopefully won't call it a career after three weeks. As for the actual dishwasher, we ran it for the first time last night. Now, I realize that sounds like a long time to wait until finally using it, but there is only two of us that actually use dishes in this house and it takes a while to fill that sucker up.

The dishwasher didn't spew out water or cause animal fur to catch on fire or make all the lights in the house do a poltergeist impression. I'd say things are top notch so far. It looks like the first was a dud, and now we may be entering into the world of dishwashing bliss. Emily is taking out the dishes as I type this, and so she'll be the one to find out if the dishwasher has any unknown flaws (like turning all the glasses purple).

There you go. The end to the Sears dishwasher debacle. We got the dishwasher. We didn't have to pay anything extra. I'm just happy it finally appears to be over. Of course, once something appears to be over, that usually means it has just begun.

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Awesome Quote Comparing Twilight and Harry Potter, Plus My Own Thoughts

"Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity… Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."

From what I've been able to find, this was initially a quote from someone named Robin Browne who unleashed a rant after trying to read through Twilight. It then was quoted by Andrew Futral who is apparently in an indie band stationed in New York. I never heard of any of these people until I stumbled upon this quote that was credited to Stephen King. When I decided to do the research to discover when he made this quote, I discovered that he never did, but it was these people instead.

I can understand why people would want to turn it into a King quote. King is one of the most recognized authors of this generation and so his words about literature carry more weight than two people that most have never heard of. It is sort of like me writing something brilliant, but in order for it to have more cred, someone attributes it to Ernest Hemmingway (he has lots to say about The Walking Dead). I don't think many people ever bothered with questioning if King said it, because he is well known for detesting Twilight and this is the kind of witty and funny statement we'd expect from King.

He didn't say it. I think it is just as funny and appropriate and fitting to put up here, when it comes from someone that I've never heard about and will likely forget the name of before dinner time.

Now, I haven't read an entire novel from the Twilight series. I tried reading the first, but after twenty pages, I realized I didn't like the feeling of my soul being sucked out by a poorly written novel. If my life remains to be semi kind to me, I'll never have to finish that novel or ever read another in that series.

I have been reading the Harry Potter series. I can't believe it has taken me this many years to fall in love with one of the greatest fantasy series ever written. The series is so rich and created such an engrossing world. I've fallen in love with these characters, and I give a damn about what happens to them. Rowling writing strengthens after each novel, and I've loved the next book more than the previous. It is considered a children's series, but you can see why it has grab the attention of so many adults. It has the magic and adventure that appeal to kids, but it also has a rich story and deals with deeper themes that will engage adults. I'm just ashamed it took me so long to realize what a landmark series this is, and to finally recognize this is a massive jewel in current pop culture that will take its place with other classic works of fantasy.

I'm now ready to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I'm still just trying to catch my breath after the awesome thrill ride that was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The novel contained all the adventure and thrills that captured my imagination as a child. It also delivered some chapters that were some of the scariest and most disturbing scenes that I've read. The novel has grabbed every emotion I can think of and has stirred up feelings that most adult novel could only wish to achieve.

The series has done a great job in addressing important themes too. Several of the books have tackled the issue of prejudice and racism. It hasn't done it in a preachy way, but rather woven it into the story and made it a stronger book. It allows you to look at the issue in a new perspective since it incorporates fantasy creatures and a world of magic users and non-magic users. There is a clear divide in the types of characters, and the novels explore ways to deal with some of the obvious prejudice that can seep through.

I am also impressed a children's novel is willing to address the matter of questioning authority. There has been key storylines where it becomes clear those in authority may not be trusted or not necessarily have the best interest of the public in mind. It also addresses the need to question and not believe everything you read or are told. These are important things to tell a kid. It is good to encourage a kid's independence, and to let them know they have the power to choose their destiny. I am sure there have been children's books that have addressed similar themes, but Harry Potter series has made it one of the stronger themes that have followed through the entire series.

I'm still three books away from completing the series. Since I waited so long, I do know how some of the tale turns out and what happens to some of the characters. It is hard to stay uninformed about a series that captured the imagination of so many people. Despite of spoilers, I am engrossed in this series and so happy I finally gave it a shot.

Harry Potter is a magnificent work that has significantly contributed to literature and pop culture. Twilight will likely be something that people will look back on in ten years and say, "Really? People willingly paid money for this?"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Just Missed St. Patrick's Day, So Have a Kind of Irish Song to Make Up For It

If someone told me to pick the perfect Irish drinking song, then I'd probably select Spirit of the West's "Home for a Rest." Except I'd be totally incorrect in choosing that song, because Spirit of the West is a Canadian band. So, it is a Canadian drinking song. But in my limited vision of what a Irish drinking song is, I think "Home for a Rest" fits it perfectly. I'm sure many Irish drinkers could pick out a better, but it is my blog and I choose this song.

I really love this song. I love it so much that I'd marry it, if you could marry a song and I wasn't already taken. I wouldn't even need to be drunk to want to marry it. I love this song even when I'm sober. I think, I've asked this song to be played at almost every wedding reception dance I've ever been to. This is a song that makes everyone want to dance and groove.

As my tribute to the St. Patrick's day that just passed, I present to you the awesome "Home for a Rest" by Spirit of the West.

Friday, March 16, 2012

And Now the Blog Gets Messy. . .

But not too messy, because I've got several stacks of diapers. Diapers are wondrous things because they stop the baby mess from hitting every single thing in your house. But they also keep the mess trapped, and eventually, you have to change those messy diapers. Not exactly something that I was looking forward to when I was a "father-to-be." I did end up learning a lot about diapers, and I've become a bit of a diaper changing expert now. I impart all that knowledge in today's "Dad's Eye View", so go check that out right now. Because Friday reading isn't right unless it contains detailed accounts of diapers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Little "Roll Up the Rim" Bragging

I think most of my non-Canadian readers at least know that Tim Horton's is a national treasure up here. The coffee shop has never really done an international expansion like McDonald's, but it has been the ultimate national success story. If you think Canadian, you often have to include a Tim Horton's coffee along with the igloo and beaver. The restaurant had an incredibly profitable last year, and continues to grow in this country and beyond.

But if you're not Canadian, then you may not know what "Roll Up the Rim" is. This is a real travesty, because you really need to know one of the major events that unite almost all Canadians. Plus you need to know what it is that I'm actually bragging about.

"Roll Up the Rim" is the yearly event that usually goes from end of February to mid-May. You basically do exactly what the title claims, you roll up the rim of your coffee cup and see if you won anything. The prizes range from all over; you can win things like coffee, doughnuts, gift cards, camping gear, 3D TV, and a car. My parents actually won camping gear one year. More often you end up winning a coffee or doughnut. It is always fun to win stuff, even if the prize is under two bucks. Tim Horton's says you have 1 in 6 odds. You'd have to buy six coffees before winning a free on your sixth. Those are still pretty good odds when you consider there is a lot of people who buy two coffees or so a day.

The contest is actually pretty genius. Tim Horton's has essentially turned it into the kind of event that thousands of people eagerly look forward to every year. It is such a big deal that I know people who don't normally go to Tim Horton's, who become regular Tim Horton's drinkers during the contest period. I'm sure their business grows to a huge degree during this time, and it is profitable enough that they can give away tons of free food. I admit that I frequent the establishment more often during this time.

But I don't always have to pay for my coffee either.

You see, I laugh at those 1 in 6 odds. I not only laugh, but I scoff and guffaw at them. Maybe even chuckle. Because my success rate has been far better than 1 in 6. A conservative estimate would put it at closer to 3 in 6 (after this week, maybe even inching towards 4 in 6). And even better, I actually won a free coffee that was redeemed with a "Win Coffee/Latte" tag. Yes, I'm on a roll.

I may not have landed a lucrative book deal. I may still need to find ways to supplement my income. I'm always being told that I stack the dishes improperly in the washer. Sometimes my son pees on me. And I can't even eat without spilling. But man oh man, am I ever good at winning free coffee.

I have only won coffee. But I've also only known my parents to win one of the bigger prizes. So, I sort of expect to just win coffee and doughnuts. I prefer the coffee because then I have a rim to roll (the doughnuts are delicious but lack a rollable rim that wins you free stuff). I get great pleasure actually winning a coffee from an already free coffee.

I've got a great winning percentage. How is this going to lead to bigger and greater success? Can my luck translate to other areas? Probably not, but I am far more caffeinated now. This means I don't need silly things like sleep. I am way more productive with my writing or running around in circles. Plus you end up looking like a real swell guy when you "buy" someone a coffee, but you feel great knowing you actually only paid for the one you'd have bought anyway. So, maybe my "Roll Up the Rim" success doesn't translate well to other things, but hey, I've paid for a lot less coffee than most other people over the last month. So take that.

I also realize my success is really only appreciated by other Tim Horton's coffee drinkers. Even then, maybe my revelation is causing a minor upheaval. Obviously, my 4 in 6 win rate means someone is likely stuck with a 1 in 12 success, or even worse, is still waiting for that first sweet, sweet, sweet free coffee. If that is the case, I'm sorry. I can't help it that I'm just that awesome when it comes to winning free coffee.

The Greatest Reading of "Where the Wild Things Are"

If you want a reading of a classic children's book, then you obviously hire Christopher Walken to do that reading. And if he chooses to read a book with limited text, then obviously he needs to improvise a little. So, that is exactly what we get here. What we also get is pure awesome. I may have to go get a Coke and rewatch this, so that I can spray Coke from my nose. Because if anything was funny enough to warrant a Coke nose spray, this is the video.


I also don't know for sure if this is actually Christopher Walken, or just a really good impression. It doesn't really matter, because it is hilarious either way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Survivor and More Quick TV Show Thoughts

Survivor tonight was another wild one, and did its part in continuing to form one of the better seasons in a while. I also realize there were a few other shows that recently laid out some major happenings, and so I wanted to throw in my (spoilery) comments on them as well. But first we'll start with. . .

Survivor One World:
Tarzan is magnificent. I just wanted to throw that out there. The man is absolutely hilarious, and he is such a non threat that there is a chance he could go deep. I also fear there is a chance he'll rub someone the wrong way and be sent packing rather soon. The man is so clueless when it comes to playing the game, but he makes tribal council incredibly entertaining. I love how he completely confused Probst, and then tried to be all secretive because the game was afoot.

I was right about the tribal swap, and you really couldn't have created more mismatched teams. We could be looking at another blow out. It seems like the shake-up didn't hurt Colton's standing, because he seems to be correct in believing he is playing with morons. I have no clue why Alicia so quickly aligned with Colton, and essentially gave more strength to the men's alliance. I also not sure why Christina was so shocked by Monica's exit, because by now people should know they can't trust people that were once their opposition. Colton is doing an amazing job manipulating his tribe, but he's not making the best use of his power. Why did they get rid of the one smart and athletic person in their tribe? I still think Colton is getting too cocky and flaunting his power too soon, and it is going to lead to an epic crash. Or maybe I'm just giving his tribe mates way too much credit.

I'm loving the personalities this season. It isn't the brightest bunch. Many of them are playing awful games, but they're so over the top and creating a bunch of drama. It is a mess, but an entertaining mess. Next week looks like another crazy episode. Colton continues to be an asshat and someone get carted out on a stretcher -- which I assume is unrelated to Colton's asshattery.

Once Upon a Time: I loved the Red Riding Hood twist. This show does such a fantastic job of re-imagining the classic fairy tales. I also liked the little wink to Peter and the Wolf, but sad to see it was a less than happy ending this time around. This was the first time we really got to know Red and Granny, and Granny is definitely a new favourite character. She can start doing action films with The Rock and Stallone now. I wonder if they can film an extra scene in the new Expendables movie.

The Kathryn mystery is developing nicely too. I loved that there was the box containing the heart -- can we say a clear shout out to the Snow White fairy tale? Clearly this is the evil Queen's plan, and she was willing to murder her apparent best friend. Right now, all the evidence points to Mary Margaret, and this controversy should make for an awesome next episode. I am also looking forward to learning more about bad ass Snow White that they show in the preview. This show is really clicking right now, and the disappearance/murder of Kathryn should be a solid plot that will lead us right to the season finale.

The Walking Dead:
Alright, I called Shane's death the moment he started going off the deep end. I knew he wasn't a character that could stick around. But I was totally thrown off by Dale's death. It was really sudden. I wonder if the actor actually wanted to leave the show, because the character seems to have so much more to add to the series. The Dale death was important to shake up the characters and start creating more panic.

The Shane showdown was pretty satisfying. His turning into a walker brings up an interesting question. In this new world, do the dead automatically turn into walkers even if they aren't bitten? Or has Shane been carrying something due to a scratch from his last encounter? I'm thinking there is a virus that maybe all the characters are carrying, but it doesn't get triggered until death. It is now a new thing for them to worry about.

The second half hasn't been as strong as the first half of the season. The last episode was a little dull until Shane tried to kill off Rick. And the Lori character is really regressing and becoming the most annoying character in all of television. I am not even sure if that is the point or not. But the finale looks amazing, as the crew needs to guard the farm from a pretty epic walker invasion. I'm expecting we may see a few more long term characters take a gory exit from the series.

Parks & Recreation:
The show just had its "winter finale" because it will be on hiatus for a few months. I am saddened one of the funniest shows will be taking a break, but it also means Community is coming back. That is a show I miss more. But the finale was a good way to send off the show for few weeks. Ron Swanson is becoming one of the more deceivingly complex characters on TV. He is the manly outdoorsy caricature that devours three steaks in a row then beds strangers, but then he has this sweet side where he helps Andy with his college course or shows sympathy to Chris. I also loved seeing Jerry become a machine as he whips through the packing of the envelops -- then has to do it again after packing the wrong material. The Leslie storyline was sweet, as the airport employees "lost" the tape as a way to show support for her. I hope she wins the election, because it opens the doors for fresh storylines next season. Series likes this fear shaking things up too much, so we'll see where this story arc ends up going.

The Office: I loved the Dwight and Jim stuff this last episode. Jim proves he actually cares about Dwight and gets beat up to "help" Dwight keep his job. I also loved how Andy kept using verbiage that made all his employees think Dwight was dead. Toby and Darryl's battles for Kevin and his cookie craving was a fun little storyline too, and I like it when Toby actually gets some time devoted to him. I like him far more than Michael Scott does. All in all, it was a pretty strong episode. If they keep it up, I may have to stop dreading the show's renewal.

Modern Family: Claire wanted to add her kids to Facebook, but then sees her mistake when an old College photo surface. Jay and Gloria are afraid Manny is being used, but then it is revealed he is using the "cool kid." Of course, there was the epic clown battle to finish off a pretty funny episode. The show always has so many storylines going on, but somehow they can effectively weave them together and avoid making things too hard to follow. It was a strong episode in what is turning into their funniest season.

Hey Everybody, Collective Publishing Has a New Pop Culture Writer

And it's me. But you probably guessed that already. As you know, I've written several political articles and sold a few blogs to the very fine site known as Collective Publishing. So, now I'm excited to announce I'll be the new pop culture writer for the site. Every week you get to check out my opinion and insight on all things movies, TV and music. I've got some pretty cool ideas for the weekly column, but you'll just have to check in every week to find out what they are.

As for this week, I'm defending a show that I've never seen, and don't necessarily even care if you watch it. I'm not asking for support. But I do think the recent controversy about this show has been fifty kinds of silly. So, hop on to Collective Publishing, and check out my thoughts on GCB. Then let me know your own thoughts over in the comment section on the site.

Places a Baby Can Sleep

Well, actually a baby can sleep almost anywhere. Everett proves that on a regular basis. In today's "Dad's Eye View", I look at some of the common sleeping arrangements parents have with their newborn. I then look at the option we chose, and try to convince you it is the greatest in the world. Actually, I don't, but I do explain why I think it is a big tank of awesome for us. So, go check out my column on sleep, and then take a nap when you boss isn't looking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Quick Bit of Writer Advice That Comes from Personal Experience

I've been away for a few days, and I'm sure your life has been an outright disaster without me. I'm sorry about that. I'll try to stop allowing my life to get in the way of your free reading material.

I wanted to mention that I've landed three new writing assignments this past week. All of them look to be long term work. Surprisingly enough, none of them came from a wealthy editor, publisher or owner just randomly calling me and seeing if I would like to put some words into a paragraph. None of them came from a job posting on a job board (though, I've got several assignments from such things). I landed all three jobs by approaching the person I wanted to write pay copy for, and then pitching them an idea that I thoughts was rather swell. They then agreed that the idea was pretty nifty and then we worked out a pay rate. In most of these cases, I already had built up a relationship with the individual and they knew the type of work that I could produce. But the fact still is that I pitched them a job that they didn't have before and they were not actively seeking, but I was able to convince them that they did want it and I could fulfill it.

Now creating three jobs in one week is a record, and not something I'd expect to happen often. Most of my work either comes from referrals, finding jobs on the job market, or following submission guidelines from the Writer's Market. But I had ideas pop in my head, and thought of particular people that may like to pay for those ideas to become reality. Luckily, I was right this time. I haven't always been, but three decent jobs is proof it was worth trying (since the pitch took me a few minutes to compose).

My point here isn't to gloat about how awesome I am. But some real life examples of what you need to do if you want to be a full time writer. I've mentioned before how I've had people ask me how I've been able to get paid for my writing. They often get upset when I answer with, "keep on writing, and keep on pitching." Because that sounds like work. They apparently want the writer angels to descend from heaven and bestow them with the Sacred Crown of the Writer. Then suddenly, publishers start calling and begging them to write for large gobs of money.

It doesn't work that way. Or at least, it doesn't work that way for me. I need to keep on writing. I need to constantly be looking for the next writing gig, so I can avoid having to move to a cardboard box and dine on raw noodles. The stakes are a bit higher for me now since I have a family that expects me to provide for them and bring home a decent living wage.

I look at the several job boards that are online. I check out all the magazines and periodicals in the Writer's Market, and try to find guidelines that fit with my writing style and interests. But I also contact businesses, and try to pitch my skills to them. I also spend time building up relationships with other writers and publishers with hopes that I can get the almighty connections. I'm still at the beginning of my career, and I have my moments of panicking where I think, "Oh man, can I really make a living out of this thing or I do I need to start checking boxes at the grocery store?" I am also farther along success wise at this point than I thought I would be when I started. A lot of that is because I never expect job to magically appear. When I can't seem to find jobs, I start trying to create them. So far, it seems to be working just fine and dandy.

That is my writing advice that comes from personal experience. And really, that is the only worthwhile advice there is. It may work for you. It may not. But you at least have to keep on writing. Because that is what makes you a writer.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Trying to Remember I Have Three "Sons"

Once Everett arrived, it was rather easy to go, "Weeeee, a cute baby and I'm going to shower all my love on him all the time." Except that probably isn't the smartest move since I still had things like pay copy and eating to do deal with. Everett couldn't get 24/7 attention, and since he likes his sleep, I'm pretty sure he didn't want it. I also had another reason to not show nonstop Everett love. I've got two "furry sons" that like attention and pets and treats and so on. Before Everett, they got showered with quite a bit of attention, and so it was important to try to continue to show some love to avoid them wanting to turn Everett into a chew toy. Plus there is that whole thing about me actually loving them and not wanting to make them feel left out. Pets do have feelings and emotions; trust me on this. In today's "Dad's Eye View", I look at how I've tried to spread all the love, and make sure the pets didn't feel neglected. I think it is one of the most important lessons/challenges I had to face, and is good to check out if you're expecting a baby while already being the parent of a furry one.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sears Works Hard to Convince Me to Never Buy a Major Appliance in Brantford

Long-time readers (and readers willing to read long walls of text) will know about my several month long drama with T&A Appliances. You'll also know why I'll never buy a single thing from that mismanaged store again. It seems like Sears heard about this event and said to themselves, "Hey, a big box store can do everything better than a small regional store chain! Especially when it comes to screwing over the customer. Screw them, guys!"

With the arrival of Everett, we decided life would be far easier if we finally sucked it up and got a dishwasher. I don't like doing dishes to begin with, but I also appealed to the argument that we're already busy and the baby will take up so much time. We needed a dishwasher to spare every few minutes we can muster. So, we did. Actually, it was an incredibly generous gift, but the point is we got a dishwasher. We decided that Sears would be our venue of choice.

The dishwasher was delivered and installed without any problem. We didn't have to wait several months for it to arrive or hear several contradicting stories of why it is taking so long. It seemed like we were going to get a "non-hair pulling" appliance experience. Oh how naive I was.

I should have seen the signs for disaster when the dishwasher was installed and Emily started to check it out. We weren't able to see this model in the store, but our salesperson assured us that one of the dishwasher models in the store was almost exactly like the one we were purchasing except there wasn't the extra spray in the back (or something -- I was thinking about muffins). Emily noticed this dishwasher was missing quite a few more things, and really wasn't anywhere close to "exactly like the other dishwasher."

But I decided it wasn't a big deal, because we got a good deal on the washer (a gift!). Plus we aren't planning to stay in the house forever and ever. The plan was always to get a dishwasher that will keep the dishes clean (the original job of Crosby and Summit), and buy the all-powerful "make your drinks and massage your feet" type of dishwasher for our "permanent" home (Everett?). We let the salesperson's trickery slide, and got ready for a wonderful life of machine washed dishes.

That lasted about two or three weeks. Suddenly, our dishwasher wouldn't turn on. Since my technical skills end with flipping on the light switch, I decided to call customer service and see if they had any ideas.

They didn't. So, they called on a repair person to come in. It was all done quickly, and within a few days he was already out to check on the dishwasher. The issue ended up being the latch was faulty, and we would need a replacement.

The thing is, this was a brand new washer. It was less than a month old. I didn't want to already be putting on new parts. But luckily, our warranty stated we can get a replacement washer within the first 30 days. I called up customer service and let them know that is what I wanted to do. They informed me that I would be able to do this, but I needed to talk to my original salesperson. She was going to contact her for me, and get her to call me back.

Two days later I got a call from a confused salesperson who didn't understand what I meant by a faulty latch. It seems like the message went to a salesperson in the vacuum department. A department that doesn't really deal with a lot of latches. Eventually, I got transferred over to the right department and got to talk to my original salesperson.

After about 5 minutes of explaining to her that she was my salesperson, ("Who was your salesperson?" "You were my salesperson." "What was your salesperson's name?" "Am" "That's me." "Yes" "I was your salesperson?"), we got to move on to me explaining for another 5 minutes that I already had a repair person come to my house and I just wanted the replacement dishwasher that is promised in my warranty. The conversation ended with her saying that the new dishwasher will be sent out ASAP and she will call me with the day and time.

Excellent. Despite a conversation going a little longer than I wanted, it looked that my issue would be resolved promptly.

I'm so naive, sometimes.

It was about three days later, and I had not heard anything from my salesperson. I decided to give her a call. I was notified she wasn't in today, and she had not left any record of our conversation or proof a dishwasher had been ordered. Huh. But I was promised that they would leave a note for her, and she would call me promptly the next day.

She didn't.

I called her, and got to play the game where I let her know she was my salesperson. After I won that round, she notified me that she talked to her manager about the dishwasher and was just waiting to get something sorted out. What exactly needed to be sorted out? Maybe it was the last dishwasher of its kind, and they needed to arm wrestle a warlock to convince him to have his elf soldiers fly it over on the backs of their unicorns. Or maybe she just realized she didn't do anything, and needed a cover. Either way, I asked her when I'd hear back, and she promised she would call me at 11:00 the next day.

Surprise, she didn't. When I called her, she let me know she is just waiting to hear from her manager (deja vu!), and he happened to be trapped in an ice cube at the moment (or something like that). I told her this was starting to get a little silly, and all she had to do was order me a new dishwasher as the warranty stated. I also reminded her that she originally told me that it was just a matter of ordering one and setting up a delivery time. She promised everything would be taken care of, and I'd get a call the next day. So, she essentially just replayed the previous day conversation, except I didn't need to convince her she was my salesperson.

Did she call me the next day?

Are you even paying attention? Of course she didn't. She didn't call me because she was now on a two week vacation. Makes sense. I wouldn't call a customer on my vacation either. I probably would have told them that Friday was my last day, and then arranged someone else to take care of the matter. But maybe that is why I'm not a Sears’s employee.

I talked to the manager that day. He promised that he had been talking to the salesperson. They were just trying to figure out the cost issues, because they didn't feel it was right that I'd have to pay.


Of course, I wouldn't have to pay anything. This is why I have that warranty. Sears covers the cost, and I get a new dishwasher. All sorted out. I wasn't exactly ready to call this guy over for a beer and wings. He did tell me everything would get sorted out soon, and he would be calling me every single day to keep me updated.

Two days later I called after not hearing anything. He was at a conference. No one knew anything about my issues. But by golly, I could leave him a voice mail! I did. I let him know that if things weren't resolved promptly that I'd be letting the higher ups of Sears know about his "service."

A day later I got a call from a guy letting me know that a repair person was coming to my house the next day. I told this guy that I didn't want repairs, but I wanted a new washer. The call guy said he actually didn't know squat, and he was just calling me to let me know someone was coming to my house. Maybe it was going to be a serial killer? A clown? He-man? Who knows? But someone was coming to my house. It may have to do with my dishwasher too.

I got the call the next day from the repair guy to alert me he was going to be over in 15 minutes. I had a rather bad feeling based off the previous phone call. So, I asked him if he was bringing a dishwasher.

Of course not. He was bringing a latch. You know the thing that my dishwasher needed. The thing that I didn't want because it was a new dishwasher. Well, I let him know that I was expecting a new dishwasher and I didn't want the latch. I cancelled the order, and the guy was nice enough to volunteer to call Sears for me and sort things out.

He called back to tell me the manager wasn't in, and no one wanted to do anything without him around. Apparently, they are all electronic toys, and the manager is their battery.

I called anyway. I left another great message for my buddy, the manager. I told him I needed that dishwasher because the sink was getting pretty full and I expected to hear a date for the dishwasher's arrival promptly.

Two days later, I decided to call again. No one answered. I left a message letting them know that it had been weeks since I was promised a new dishwasher, and they had three days to contact me and arrange a time for its arrival.

Two days later I called again. The manager was busy. Instead, I got a wonderful gentleman who greeted me with an irritated tone once I revealed my name. "Listen, the dishwasher has been ordered." Well, I then made sure he was ready to listen. He heard my entire story. It included a healthy dose of sarcasm and rage. It changed his tone rather quickly. He admitted he didn't know the full story. I admitted that I was about an hour away from contacting people who can get me results.

Then magically, the manager called me a half hour later. He must have been meaning to do this for days. It couldn't have been my last conversation that got him to call me so quickly.

He apologized for the delay. He informed me that not only has the dishwasher been ordered, but it had magically arrived in the store this very moment. He just needed to call the install guys and set up a time.

They then proceeded to call our house five times the next day. They seemed to want to make up for the lack of returned called before.

So, now here I wait for my dishwasher to be installed. Again. Hopefully, this time it lasts a bit longer than 3 weeks.

I want to get a new BBQ. I'm thinking I'll shop around in Hamilton.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Survivor One World Leaves Me Bum Puzzled

And this post will leave you "rage ranty" if you haven't seen this week's episode, because there is spoilery goodness coming up.

I have no idea what "bum puzzled" means, but it is what Jay claimed he was right before tribal council. And I have to agree that I was feeling the same way.

This week they promised a move that has never been done in Survivor history. And there is a reason why this move has never been done. It is without a doubt the stupidest move ever. J.T. should be happy to know that he no longer owns the title for "Stupidest Survivor Move of All Time." Nope, it has been snagged by an entire tribe. I'm including Colton in this little award giving, because even though it's impressive he was able to convince his entire tribe to do the stupidest thing ever, there was no reason to give up immunity, and makes me question if he really is the incredible player he claims to be.

The guys slaughtered the girls in the immunity challenge. To the point that it completely erased all the momentum the girls gained with three straight wins. It was pathetic. I had a feeling that Alicia played poorly enough that her alliance may decide it was enough drama for one season and send her packing. But then the guys decided to make "stupid Survivor" history and voluntarily give up the immunity they just won.

Colton thinks he is a mob boss and is running the entire show. He proved that he really can convince his tribe to do literally anything. I can't fathom why he would agree to even up the tribes, just because he's decided he dislikes one of the players on his teams. It is the ultimate example of cockiness, and he seems to be slipping into the spot of all-time top villain. Except you can't take that title if you leave the season early, and I have to believe there is someone smart enough to realize Colton is calling all the shots and is drunk with power (well, beyond drunk -- this guy is in a power coma).

I like my villains on this show, but Colton seems to have done a pretty good job to make me dislike him. His "ghetto trash" comment from last week was pretty awful, but I quickly forgot it because I felt it didn't have any real racial slander behind it. Now, I'm thinking it did. His dismissal of Bill as a person was pretty disgusting, and essentially sabotaging his team just to carry out his vendetta is stupid.

But it made for delightful TV. The last 20 minutes of the show was the wildest craziness that I've seen on Survivor. This show hasn't had an explosion like this since the season that hooked me on this series, Heroes vs. Villains. I think there are enough egos and clashing personalities to ensure this type of drama continues for a while.

I'm now left with wondering who really is the stupidest tribe of all time. I really thought the girls this season were pretty useless after the first two episodes. But the guys mindlessly following Colton to the slaughterhouse is the epitome of idiocy. Why would you willingly risk getting voted out of this game? I would have forgiven the men if it ended up being a blindside on Colton. They seemingly believe the immunity idol he possesses is some kind of magical amulet that gives him super powers. I can't see why they didn't force him to play it.

And was Colton's verbal beat down of Leif one of the most uncomfortable moments in Survivor? It felt like a parent reprimanding a child. I know Leif is a little person, but Colton's verbal beating was awful. Why didn't Leif stand up for himself? Why does it matter if Bill found out they were going to vote him out? They had the numbers. It didn't matter. And it doesn't really make Leif untrustworthy just because he outed the plan. Though at this point in the series, you're really a moron if you expect people to be trustworthy. Everyone is out there for themselves, and just waiting for their chance to get ahead.

I just loved this episode. It was so crazy and over the top. Yeah, I was yelling at the guys for being stupid, but that tribal council was wild. Tarzan totally flipped out on racism, and not really sure why he even had that speech. I have to say that I love that guy. I also love that he always feels the need to raise his hand. I so want him to win the million, but I can't see it. At this point, I can't see any of the guys winning unless they stop being Colton's little play things.

I found Bill annoying prior to this episode. The way Colton treated him, did cause me to start rooting for him in the end. I'm sad he went out after whiney Colton verbally assaulted him. I'm also glad Bill stood up for himself, and tried to put Colton in his place.

The preview next week has got me pretty pumped. It looks like the game is being shaken up some more. Based off the preview, I'm guessing we're looking at a tribal swap. If so, this will completely ruin Colton's little kingdom. I always like the swap because it forces tribes to adapt and change strategies. It will allow players like Mike and Christina to gain some life, as they're currently on the outs in their respective tribes. Of course, I don't even know if this is the twist for the next episode. I just know Colton doesn't like it, and it should shake up the game some more.

Of course, this episode not only brought drama, a crazy tribal council, and the stupidest move ever, but it also debuted the phrase "bum puzzled." So really this may have been one of the greatest episodes in all of television history.

Even Though Commuting to Work Sounds so Fun. . .

I'm bit more amiable towards the whole work at home deal. I get a feeling that most people won't argue too hard against working at home being cooler than Free Sundea Wednesday. The whole staying at home and still get paid is even billions times better than a mountain of free sundaes when you become a father. Or a mother. But fathers are typically the individual that has to return to the office, and leaving the new baby with mommy to look after. Being at home as a new dad is all kinds of awesome, and I reveal why in today's "Dad's Eye View" column. Sure, you may have an idea of what I'm going to say, but you really don't know definitely until you check it out. So, go do that, and then quit your day job and work at home. Okay, maybe don't do the latter part, unless you have a real plan in place. But you really do need to read it, because it tastes just like a free sundae.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Maybe This is Why I'm Not a Paid Critic

It seems like every major TV critic has been raving about the premiere of Awake, and throwing out accolades like it being the best new series this year or how it is one ingredient short from curing cancer.

Yet I was on here claiming the show risked putting me to sleep and was an amazing premise with a flawed execution.

My view seems to be in the minority, which means I shouldn't expect my professional critic’s hat to arrive in the mail.

In my defense, my view may have been distorted due to watching the show on my computer (will accept a PVR as a gift) while trying to rock a baby to sleep. I wasn't at my reviewing best. Plus I really was expecting a very different show than what was served up.

Or maybe my tastes are just not that refined, and I'm not intellectual enough to appreciate genius like Awake (I'm also missing out at being on the intellectual level to appreciate Jersey Shore). I like to think my tastes allow for smarter and higher class programming, but maybe the reality is my brain can't appreciate the non-explody kind of fare.

It does seem I agree on many of the same things as the "more refined" critics. I do think it is a brilliant concept and it is filled with potential. I also felt the acting was remarkable. I felt the story about the father and son trying to patch up their failed relationship, but trying to work through the awkwardness of how to do that played out well. The wife's method of coping was believable and created a solid juxtaposition to the lead character. I liked the inner turmoil he experienced and his interaction with all the supporting characters. I even liked how the two cases from the different worlds were interconnected and helped provide the clues to solve each other. In reflection, I liked the story and everything that was presented.

I just felt too much was crammed into one episode, which hurt my enjoyment to a huge degree. The cases were rushed, and came off feeling like afterthoughts. I didn't feel there was enough time devoted to make me care about his relationships with the son or wife, thus hampering the believable story that had been constructed. It lacked any emotional connection for me. I was left knowing what they tried to accomplish and wishing they pulled it off.

I still feel this could be an amazing show. I want to stick with it a few episodes and give it time to find a groove. I know it could be one of the better shows on TV.

It isn't that show right now. It is just potential right now. I'd go as far to say failed potential at the moment.

But what do I know? I'm just some hack on a blog that has hosted such odd content such as an interview with my teddy bear, a message to my 13 year old self, and a fake chain letter. I'm not sipping fine wines and wearing satin robes while I allow words to pour from my fingertips. My reviews aren't unleashed from the heavens and stopping wars across the globe. Not like all those super powerful critics on those magnificent sites with pop up ads and links to view the very show they just reviewed (no biases though). Of course, my opinion just can't compare.

But I'm going to give the show a second chance. I think it can be awesome. I want it to be awesome. I also want to make sure I watch the second episode with no biases attached. I don't want to go in thinking, "Every critic thinks this is more spectacular than flying on a winged platypus, so I need to think this dreck is wonderful." I want to be able to also think it sucks, if I think it just isn't hitting the mark. Even though this will cause all the big boy critics to pat me on the head and say, "There, there stupid. Isn't sweet you're trying to give an opinion on award winning works."

Of course, if I don't like the next episode, then clearly it proves I am right and all other critics are hacks. It really is the only conclusion that can be made. It has nothing to do with me not being smart enough to get the wizardry and wonder of a television drama.

Or so I am desperately trying to convince you.

But hey, big corporate entertainment sites, if I say the show is awesome then will you now pay me to write essays about the leadership styles of Admiral Ackbar and Bumblelion?

The Most Viewed Posts of February 2012

I'm in the mood for some statistics geekery (and I'm too lazy to come up with another topic), so here is a look at the blog posts that attracted the most eyeballs last month.

RIP Macho Man Randy Savage 1952-2011 - Because it makes tons of sense that an almost year old tribute post would be the most viewed post on my blog. Anyone that has read these "most viewed" blog posts would know that ol' Randy is always the most viewed post on this blog and is viewed over four times more than any other post ever. This month it is viewed just twice as much as any other blog post. This is because Google has sent people over here wanting important information on "macho elbow to face", "macho man house", "who is real macho man", and of course, "elizabeth real hot 80s".

Craig Kielburger: Inspiring Others For Greatness - This post is even older than the Mach Man tribute, but has really spiked in views over the last several months. I haven't bothered to see if Kielburger has done anything out of the his usual charity work in the last half year, but I've got views from all over the world googling various phrases containing Kielburger and his greatness. It should be noted that readers seem less concerned knowing about Kielburger's house than Macho Man's.

12 Rating Grabbing Ideas for Survivor - Either people still really like their Survivor or they are desperate to find out what amazing ideas I had to improve the show. Of course, it also helps that I shopped this article around to various sites and forms of social media, and so I promoted it very hard to give it inflated page views. It also helps that the always awesome Collective Publishing bought this article and then kindly linked back to my blog.

Oh Look! I See A Parade of Pictures - Say it with me now, "Babies equal web traffic."

Meet Everett's Newest Friend. . . - Okay, I get the point. You come to this blog for baby and pet pictures.

About the Last Picture I Posted. . . - And to hear me lament about my hair loss. This was posted on a Sunday, which is traditionally a low traffic day (because why go on the internet if you're not at work?). You can either see this as ranking impressively high or view it as depressing that so many of my friends flocked to a post about my bald patch. Of course, I didn't help, because it made me laugh and so I decided to do the social media rounds. If only I got a hair back for every view this post got; I'd have me a luscious head of hair, I would. But apparently, the internet is lacking in hair regenerating powers and the sun continues to bounce rays off the back of my head as I type this.

Revisiting a Boy & His Dog - Pets and babies. Babies and pets. People love them both. And so another post full of pictures that beats out articles that actually took me longer than 5 minutes to compose. I'm not bitter though.

RIP Whitney Houston: Losing a Music Icon - Yet another "tribute post" that is creeping into the all time most viewed. I'm surprised this one actually did so well, since I'm not really a huge fan and definitely didn't give her the most detailed write up. It did come from the heart, and I realize her immense talent, plus you know, there was that whole celebrity crush thing. It also helps that my buddies at Collective Publishing bought this post as well. This one hasn't done as well on Google, largely because Houston was a mega star and I'm sure there was tons of competition from sites eulogizing her great career.

Debunking the Latest Crazy Internet Meme - Another post from a previous month that kept grabbing views from Google. It seems lots of people want to know more about this Miguel Carano killer, and then of course, discover they really want to learn about Miguel Carcano. I'm really happy this post is still doing well, because I'm proud any time I can do my part in destroying an absurd and fictitious internet meme.

I'm a Filthy Liar - Because people like it when I admit I'm dirty.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Away for the Day

Because it is Sunday, and I want to do non-bloggy things. Actually, I've been up for several hours already, and done quite a few non-bloggy things, including writing some pay copy. But I've got more non-bloggy chores to accomplish, and they will be accomplished best if I stay away today. Have yourself a splendid Sunday.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

At Least I Didn't Fall Asleep Watching "Awake". . .

But I probably would have if I watched it during its 10pm premier time on Thursday. Though to be fair my drifting into the land of sweet sleep would have happened if I was watching a stellar documentary of the most interesting man in the world (stay thirsty my friends).

It also wasn't the most exciting hour I ever spent watching a TV show. And I think my expectations were a little unfairly raised, considering it's a midseason premier. The concept of a man living in a universe where his son died but his wife lived then waking up to a universe where his wife died but his son lived is compelling and original. But the execution so far has been slightly more interesting than watching slugs procreate.

Okay, that isn't very fair. The show wasn't the most boring and sleep inducing drama I've ever seen. And I do think part of my disappointment comes from the fact the concept got me really excited and I was also expecting a different kind of show.

The guy is a detective, and the trailers promised him trying to solve two murder mysteries. I was fooled into thinking these mysteries were going to be a crucial part of the show -- maybe even the series. On top of that, you have the mystery of a guy who is literally living two lives. He doesn't know what is a dream and what is reality.

But the murder cases were more of an afterthought and a backdrop to get the viewer thinking that the two worlds are interconnected. This is fine, except that nothing else really stood out to make the drama speed along. Instead, we spent lots of time hearing him get advice from his two different psychiatrists, and watch them try to convince him that the other is a part of an elaborate dream.

The problem is that the concept that I find so compelling, also is what hampered the storytelling. The show crams two lives into one hour long episode, and ends up not giving anything time to breath. So, the crimes were revealed and solved, and you never were given time to care about either. His wife and son had minimal screen time, and so you're left not giving a rip about either of the people who are supposed to mean so much to the main character.

I sort of wish he punched at least one of the psychiatrists. That would have made the show a little more interesting. And I sort of hope their roles get diminished as the series progresses.

I understand it was a pilot episode, and so it had to squeeze in all the info to get the story moving. Almost every pilot has its kinks to work out, and it usually takes a few episodes to really find its groove. I'm willing to cut the show some slack. The lead did his role well, and I still think the concept has so much potential for good storytelling. I like how the supporting characters exist in both worlds, but their lives are changed based off who survived a car crash. Fez from That 70s Show is the leads detective partner in one world, but just a lowly policeman in the other. Actually, I do have to add that I had a hard time taking Fez seriously, but I blame that more on evil typecasting in my mind rather than anything he did wrong.

I was expecting a drama/action/suspense, while it was more a story focused on dealing with loss and trying to pull a family together. Even then, it was kind of rushed and didn't leave the kind of impact the show would have been trying to achieve. But I think it is a strong enough idea that it deserves a few episodes to find its groove. I saw the potential of a great show.

It just needs to stop trying to go for that "art house" vibe. It can't flop so quickly between both worlds. It needs to let the story build. This is a show where it would benefit if the crime cases were given a few episodes to play out. They can't try to squeeze everything into one episode. It causes the impact to be dulled, and for nothing to really stick or be appealing.

Despite all those criticisms, I'll likely tune in for episode 2, and hope that it is a stronger show. There is a good chance the pilot was filmed months before the next set of episodes. I hope the writers set out some long term plans, and developed stories that will make this concept as compelling as it has the potential to be.

Or at least, not make me regret that I'm awake.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Soothing the Crying Baby

Babies cry. It is what they do. But it is the parent's job to figure out what those cries mean and try to bring them to a quick end. Now, I'm not claiming to be a baby crying expert (but maybe an occasional crybaby), but I've learned to start figuring out some of the reasons Everett is crying. In today's "Dad's Eye View" column, I look at the strategies I use to try to appease a crying Everett. So, go check it out and see if they work on your crying baby or husband.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Hey, Look It's March! Let's Have a TV Round Up

My social media presence has been a little pathetic over the last few weeks. I blame it on pulling 10 plus hour days writing pay copy and trying to sort out my major plans and projects for my writing business for the rest of this year. On top of that, I've had some other work that needed my attention, plus there is this whole having a family and trying to be an involved member kind of thing. But I'm hoping in the coming days that I get my regular blogging routine back on track. But I also know once I promise that things will be on track that is exactly when I disappear for a week or two. So, I'm not making any promises besides telling you I'll try to get this back into a regular flow.

Despite being busy, I've been able to squeeze in some TV here and there. Here are my thoughts on some of the shows I've caught over the last bit.

Oh yeah, I'm not even going to bother being spoiler-free, so consider this your warning.

Once Upon A Time: I realize Lost has sparked this whole phenomenon of shows that jump from current time to flashbacks, while slowly unraveling a mystery. I admit that is a plot device/gimmick that is going to get more and more tiring as it gets adopted by different shows, but it totally works in the context of this series. I've loved almost every reimagining of classic fairy tales and how they've been able to incorporate all the iconic characters into one world. The "Beauty and the Beast" episode was a real doozy as it not only continued to show the sympathetic side of the Rumpelstiltskin character, but also dropped the massive bomb that his Storybrooke character remembers his fairy tale past. Now, there is the big cliffhanger of King Midas' daughter's disappearance in Storybrooke (I love how they finally explained her place in fairy tale canon), and that is sure to give us some delightful mysteries and tension as we zoom towards the season finale. The show has done a remarkable job of integrating both worlds, while also teasing us with many mysteries, but also satisfying us with enough answers to avoid us getting frustrated or impatient. I'm predicting that the writer character ends up holding a lot more power and being connected to the fairy tale world in a much more significant way than has currently been revealed (I'm thinking creator/God type). This continues to be the show that gets my mind racing and I find myself thinking about it during the week. It is good enough that I've now forgiven them for stealing this idea from me -- even if I never actually bothered to turn it into an actual story.

The Walking Dead:
The second half has given us a much larger dose of "walkers" then the first half. The last episode served up a healthy helping of blood, guts, and violence. It also finally gave us the much anticipated showdown between Shane and Rick, though this battle seems far from over. The farm has also become pretty explosive, and it looks like the gang is going to be split pretty soon. Lori is also turning into the most annoying and illogical character in television and will likely be the main impetus for the eventual dissolve of the group. I've enjoyed the second half so far, and intrigued to see what happens to many of the characters, who all seem to be experience some form of nervous break downs. Of course, there is still that group of thugs that are out there, and I'm sure will eventually pay a visit to the farm.

WWE: I've actually not seen any WWE wrestling for almost year. Wrestlemania season is upon us, and I'm debating back and forth if I bother trying to come up with a plan to see this year's version. It's the Rock's first singles match since 2004, and it is against wrestling's current biggest draw, John Cena. It is the biggest possible match wrestling could put on, and the rest of the card sounds pretty appealing too (Undertaker vs. HHH in "Hell in a Cell"). But at the same time, I haven't been watching wrestling over the last few years for a reason, and I'm not sure I want to plop down $60.00 to remind myself why. But I'm actually interested in this show, and that is a pretty big feat for WWE after years of making me pull away from the product.

How I Met Your Mother:
Things picked up over sweeps, and delivered some really funny episodes. I find myself completely uninterested in Ted ever meeting his future wife, and that is partly due to the last season or so making him the character I care about the least. He also hasn't had an interesting storyline in ages, and the "falling in love with Robin" storyline was a retread we didn't need and another obvious red herring to drag out the major plot of him finding his wife. The last few months have done a great job of developing Barney, Robin, Lily and Marshall, and made me care about them more than I have any previous seasons. I'm interested to see who Barney ends up marrying at this end of this season, and I really hope it doesn't end up being one of those swerves where he leave her at the altar and nothing has really changed. This show needs major developments and changes in the characters to keep me caring for a few more seasons. The second half of this season has picked up in storytelling and more importantly, it has actually been funny. I also want to send out a request for more Martin Short, who has done some great guest spots.

Alcatraz: I've enjoyed learning more about the '60s mythos of Alcatraz, and it has dropped some interesting little mysteries. I'm intrigued to find out how much Hauser really knows about the events in Alcatraz, and learn more about the psychiatrist's connection to the "leap" in the '60s. There is a lot of mysteries that I'm interested enough about to continue to follow this season, and so far they haven't made this too muddled and incomprehensible. But I can see myself tiring of the "convict of the week" format if there aren’t some bones thrown about why particular prisoners are returning. There has to be a reason why they've been brought back at this particular time, because each one seems to have a mission to accomplish. Things are going to start becoming a mess if they don't start to tie in some of the convicts and begin to push the major story forward. I'm enjoying it, but I can see it starting becoming formulaic, and risk holding back too much in order to keep things mysterious (thus just begin to bore me).

Movies: This isn't TV, but I wanted to bring up the fact I haven't gone to the cinema once this year. Pathetic. How can I claim to be a pop culture guru if I haven't seen any of the current crop of films? The Oscars was a reminder of how little of the last year of movies I've actually seen. I do hope to find time to catch up on some of these movies. If any editors or publishers are reading this, you can help out this goal by throwing money at me to ramble about modern films. I am more than happy to take your money.

Survivor One World: The switch seems to finally been flipped, and the woman tribe is starting to offer up real competition now. The first two and half episodes did a rather fine job of setting the woman's movement back by about 60 years or so. This had to be one of the worst starts ever for a tribe, and I'm not just talking about losing the challenges, but also their inability to communicate or run a livable camp. This is the fourth time they've done a woman vs. men season (though, one of those seasons it only lasted for 2 episodes so I don't really count that), but this is the first time they've had a woman's tribe that seemed so incompetent. I thought, the disaster would continue when they voted off Nina instead of the useless Kat, but I turned out to be wrong. This week's episode was the strongest of this season, and renewed my hope that we're in store for one of the better seasons in a while. There already is a lot of scrambling and switching of allegiances, and there are a lot of players that are in this to win, and that is always what makes for a great season full of twists and backstabbing. I love that the men already overthrew the "shirtless frat boys" and it was rather sweet watching the cocky Matt take an early exit. I like Clayton's game play, but I can see him getting overly confident as well, and misjudging his control over the tribe. Plus he plays the "gay card" way too much, and his need to flock to the women is going to make him untrustworthy. He is a unique character, and if he gets control of himself, he will go deep. The person who I don't think will go deep is Tarzan. I know the guy is a surgeon and apparently has the highest IQ in show history, but he is one dumb player. He revealed way too much in tribal council, and the guy just seems oblivious to what is going on. I can see people tiring of him, and the only reason he may stick around longer is because Bill is even more annoying than him. So far, this has been a really fun season, and is full of big personalities.

I love the fact this show can deal with issues like divorce, "coming out", popularity in high school, infidelity, and so on, and it provides a meaningful message on all these issues, but still able to deliver tons of laugh out moments. It takes a really good comedy to deal with serious issues in a provocative way, but still be absolutely hilarious. Suburgatory is that type of show, and it will be interesting if it can keep up this kind of quality for many years to come.

Modern Family: A women's menstrual cycle is no laughing matter, unless of course it is a major storyline on Modern Family. This show always has a theme that they try to tie into a deeper message, and this week seemed to be about dealing with emotions. Or something. I was laughing way too hard to really bother figuring out what it was trying to teach me. This episode was absolute gold, and has allowed the show to get a clean sweep of super hilarious episodes throughout February. This show is on fire when it comes to the funny lately, and I can't see how it won't get the Emmy once again this season. This week I think every single characters had an incredibly funny moment -- even Lily made me laugh this week.

Revenge: We've finally caught up to the scene they teased at the start of this series. I thought, they'd try to drag it out until the finale, but I'm glad they pushed things along at a quicker pace. The last two episodes have been pretty wild, and have unleashed an army of subplots and storylines. This show has grown to the point where the major storyline of Emily's revenge can be slowed down a bit, and we can focus on some of the other interesting issues that have arisen thanks to her actions. I can't see how Emily isn't going to get outed this season though, and so it will be interesting to see how the show shapes up after her revenge plot is far more public. This show is pure soap opera, but the storytelling and characters are far smarter and tighter than the usual fare. I also like that the main "villain" is becoming more sympathetic and well-rounded as the weeks progress, and I get a feeling at some point she may end up even helping Emily. This show has grown and improved since it first started, and in a lot of ways, I think it is a different kind of show now.

Parks & Rec: Ron Swanson continues to grow into one of the funniest and most interesting characters in television. I just hope the producers don't start thinking he can have his own spin-off. I've love this campaign storyline, and this show has done a great job at skewing pop culture and current events. It is no coincidence they birthed this storyline during a one of the biggest election years in a long time.

The Office: I'm laughing out loud again, and the episodes in Florida have been the strongest of the season. It seems like the series has finally found its post Michael Scott groove. Though I still think it is time to wrap this series up soon, and no, I'm not interested in the proposed Dwight Schrute spin off. I'm glad that I'm not watching out of habit anymore, and I am laughing through most of the show.

Awake: A new show that premieres tonight. I almost guarantee that I won't watch it tonight. I am interested in catching the premier at some point. I like the concept of a guy living in two parallel worlds, and not entirely sure which is real and which is the dream. It can either be a compelling mystery or a convoluted mess. Either way, it promises to at least be interesting for the first hour or so.

So, what have you guys been checking out lately?