Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Shows - Fall 2015

For some people, this is the most exciting time of the year -- Fall premiere season. Overall, I'm impressed with more sci-fi offerings, plus a reboot of the Muppets. Who doesn't love the Muppets? This time I had to choose which shows to watch, knowing that I'm leaving some good shows off the list. (Hey ... that just means I can Netflix it later!)

Here are some new shows that I'm checking out.

Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday 9PM AMC)

The short six-run season is just about over. Despite its not-so-original title, I've enjoyed the first five episodes. This story shows us the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, a time when people are starting to figure out what's going on.

The first episode was a little slow, but the second and subsequent shows got a lot better.

It's a different kind of scary, mainly because the characters don't know how zombies work. None of them read Max Brooks' books, I guess.

The only disappointment I have is that the writers decided to skip a week, so I feel like I missed out on some of the action that attracted me to the show.

But hey. The season finale is this coming Sunday, and it looks like it could be fun.

The pilot episode is available for free on, and all episodes will come to Hulu sometime next year.

Minority Report (Monday 9PM FOX)

It's another one of those "I loved the movie" situations. Two episodes in, I'm impressed with the eye-candy (and yeah ... I'm talking about the special effects). The story is okay, but a little forced. Why didn't Dash do what he does earlier? Why is his brother so available and unavailable at the same time? And why is he a jerk?

The title is super-unoriginal. At least put in a subtitle. How about: "Minority Report: They're All Grown Up"?

I still had fun watching. It has potential.

The Muppets (Tuesday 8PM ABC)

My kids don't understand why I love the Muppets so much. They're just so ... so .... aaaaahhhaahhhahh! Wocka wocka!

I still haven't seen any episodes, but they're waiting on my DVR. I hear that Kermit gets a new girlfriend, and the format of the show is similar to "The Office." I also hear that the show is a little "adult" -- whatever that means. I'll watch an episode before I inflict it on my kids.

Update 10/13/2015: Okay, I saw two episodes, and I'm not sure if it works.  Most of the dirty jokes are funny, but ... IT'S THE MUPPETS!  I think it misses the point.

Heroes Reborn (Thursday 8PM NBC)

I'm one of those who stuck with the original series through the bitter end. I can't remember what happened in that last season other than some circus thingy, and how the first season was the best, but I'm ready for more.

The pilot episode was decent. Zach Levi plays a bad guy, but we all know he's going to turn good -- right? And it's so cute how he's all serious.

The show opens with a disaster, which I'm sure will be explained by the end of the season. And what's the deal with the black-hole-meets-aurora thingy?

I'm hoping for a fun first season back.

Shows that look good, but I passed due to time:

Limitless (Tuesday 10PM CBS)
Quantico (Sunday 10PM ABC)

Ongoing shows I'm still watching:

Continuum (Friday 11PM Syfy): The time travel mechanics have gone to plaid, but it's still interesting. It's in its last season, and it's still a lot better than the 5th season of Andromeda (which I couldn't finish).

Doctor Who (Saturday 9PM BBC America): Man that was one killer opening. What comes next?

The Simpsons (Sunday 8PM FOX): Ever faithful. Though I'm concerned with some of the directions they may go this year. (Note: the new Minority Report show predicts a 75th season of the Simpsons!)

The Last Man on Earth (Sunday 9:30PM FOX): The show got better toward the end of the first season. I want to see Phil get back at Phil #2.

Haven (Thursday 10PM Syfy -- starts back October 8): It's the last half of the last season, and I just got to see how it ends, even though by this point it seems like whatever the writers want to do.

The Walking Dead (Sunday 10PM AMC -- starts back October 11): Rick is totally awesome. What more can I say?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Getting Ready For the X-Files?

On January 24, 2016, the X Files are coming back to TV for a short mini-series.  If you're anything like me, I bet you missed seeing the original episodes that aired between 1993 and 2002.  I was just too busy with school and being married and all that jazz.

So, a few months ago, I decided to start watching all the episodes so I'd be all caught up and ready for the upcoming mini-series.  And wouldn't you know it?  It's not going too well.  As of a couple of weeks ago, I was in the middle of Season 3, and I realized: If I watched one episode a day (which I can't), I still wouldn't be finished in time.


But all is not lost.  It didn't take long for me to realize that most of the episodes are "monster of the week" rather than "mythology" based.  I was getting frustrated.  I thought, "Can't I just watch the episodes that matter and skip all the fillers?"

Well, some people have put together lists.  This list is my favorite.  It not only lists "key" mythology episodes, but also throws in a few really good episodes.  It's less than half of what I have left to watch.

So now I'm back on schedule.  I've been trying it out for a week.  It's less filling, but I don't feel like I'm missing anything much.  Plus, I'm going to be ready!

Go, Mulder and Scully!  (I still think their names are hilarious.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

One Space or Two?

Even if you're not a writer, you've most likely heard someone go off the handle and say why we shouldn't use two spaces between sentences. Here's a good example:

Slate Magazine: Space Invaders

When I was young, I learned to use two spaces. And like Farhad Manjoo says, it wasn't just me. It's what everyone learned. However, when you use proportional fonts, one space just looks nicer than two. No one can explain to me why it does, but hey ... two periods is just "totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong."


Because nearly every typesetter agrees it needs to be one space -- or at least that's what they say today. But wait ... twenty years ago when it was two spaces, were all those typesetters wrong?

I don't know. I suppose I could force myself to adhere to this new arbitrary rule. The problem is that it's ingrained into my psyche, much like how I go into auto-pilot when I play the piano or drive a car. There are so many little things that we do without thinking as we concentrate on the more important things. For example, if the car in front of me comes to a sudden stop, I think, "SLAM ON THE BREAKS!" I don't think, "Let's see. I need to take my foot -- my right foot over here -- take it off of this right pedal -- and apply downward pressure on this big middle pedal -- all while pulling on the steering wheel for extra weight and screaming obscenities." Whatever happens, it happens automagically and nearly instantaneously. If I were to stop and think about the process as it happens, I'd most likely crash.

Similarly, when I type, I prefer to think about what I'm writing, and now how I'm writing it. The two spaces just happen. Does that make me an idiot? Does that make me stubborn?

I'm not sure. When I read Manjoo's article, I can't help thinking, "Wow! Here's a man who thinks he's better than 99% of the world's population -- one who wastes his time getting angry over spacing in his friends' emails."

He states, "What galls me about two-spacers isn't just their numbers. It's their certainty that they're right." But wait! I'm not the one saying, "totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong." I just don't care. I'm a writer, not a typographer. You might as well be some dork trying to tell me why your religion is right and mine isn't, because ... well ... that's exactly what it feels like. All these typographers have joined up with the Church of the One Space. It took the Chicago folks till 2003 to make the change, but as of today, they've all drunk the Kool-Aid.

More than once, Manjoo complains in his article about how many spaces he's had to delete in his editing profession. Please don't tell me that he removed each one of those spaces individually -- not in these days where you can convert two spaces to one in an entire novel in less than one minute with some simple mass search-and-replace schemes. You can even set up a Word macro to do it for you. Click a button, and WHAM, no more evil double spaces.

In fact, in writing this post, I typed with double-spaces, and then quickly removed the annoying &nbsp's that Blogger so nicely puts in for you.

Going forward, I will most likely continue to type with double spaces, because:

#1) I write science fiction, and most editors take or prefer monospace font, as described by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

#2) As I mentioned before, it is very easy to convert to just one space. If an editor really wants me to do the conversion, it's just click-click-click, and there -- it's done. All I care is that my story gets published.

#3) It's actually more difficult to mass-edit-convert from one space to two spaces.

#4) I've seen some proportional fonts where single spaces after a period actually seems to make it harder to read. This is one of those difficult decisions I'd prefer to leave with the editor and other experts. They'll make my story look good on paper.

#5) I think I'll enjoy continuing to anger typesetters. We definitely need more people in the world that get angry over nothing. Cue the rants on facebook!

So, is it one space or two? As a writer, I just don't care.