Christmas Viewing Musts

it’s that time of year again when we start scouring the TV listings to make sure we don’t miss one of our Christmas viewing musts. I’ve already recorded Year Without a Santa Claus. I think Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to Town is on this week. It looks like It’s a Wonderful Life is only on Christmas Eve. I will have to keep track this year to see if there are any to add to the list.

There are certain shows and movies that I try to watch every year during the Christmas season. Today’s post is just a list of these in order of importance:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The Year Without a Santa Claus

Elf

It’s a Wonderful Life

Miracle on 34th Street

A Christmas Story

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Home Alone

Home Alone 2

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I guess that’s it. I don’t really care about Frosty, the Grinch or Charlie Brown. I’m sure they are all pretty high on other people’s lists.  I do consider Die Hard a Christmas movie, but I would watch that any time of the year, so it is not on this list. I will also watch other random Christmas shows if they are on, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out if I don’t watch them.

Feel free to argue with my list and call me stupid in the comments.

Tater’s Music Listening History

It’s hard to consider writing these days even though it would probably help my mind. This popped up on TmeHop today and I was thinking about my music selection anyway, so I will update this one. I have started a playlist on Spotify to diversify my listening while I walk. I started with some new songs by Ryan Hamilton and then added some new songs by Tanya Tucker which lead to a suggestion of a lot of old country music. I added those and then added some oldies I liked which gave me a list of more oldies to add. I then added some 80’s stuff. I added some Bowling for Soup which lead to some pop-punk. Then I remembered a ska band I like(Big D and the Kids Table) and added them which lead to Stacked Like Pancakes and Suburban Legends. I added some of my favorite Dave Hause. Now I have a very odd collection of music that includes artists like Buddy Holly, Maty Robbins, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Def Leppard, Billy Joel and the artists mentioned above. I still have an eclectic taste in music.

 

I should be reading my book during my lunch break, but instead, I will bore everyone with a post about music.

I went to a concert Tuesday night. The opening band was a ska band(Stacked Like Pancakes) and the rest were pop-punk(Direct Hit, Runaway kids and Bowling for Soup). This is generally the type of music I listen to. Bowling for Soup, Patent Pending, The Dollyrots, Suburban Legend, etc, but I try not to be the type of person who listens to only one style or era of music. I went from the above-mentioned concert to listening to 50’s music on Sirius on my drive to work yesterday. I recently spent my drive to and from work listening to a collection of Prince’s greatest hits. It’s about time for me to do my week of listening to the local “hits” radio station to try to keep current with the mainstream music of the day.

I have always been a weird music person(a weird person in general). I grew up hearing county music from acts like Conway Twitty, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Statler Brothers, etc and watching Hee Haw on weekends. I spent a lot of time listening to 45’s of 50’s music when I was a kid. One of my favorite songs is still Blue Moon by the Marcels(I’m listening to it now). I went from that to being the typical 80’s kid and still love 80’s music. I was a fan of bands like Motley Crue, Whitesnake. KISS, Guns N Roses, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Poison, etc. along with pop music like Michael Jackson, Wham, etc. In the 90’s  I drifted toward country when I found myself not liking a lot of popular music. I went the direction of pop-punk by accident. I heard a Bowling for Soup song on the radio, loved it and looked for more. I went to some of their shows and started listening to music by the opening acts at those shows. A good portion of the music I listen to came to me from their connection to BFS.

My music history is a weird one, but I think it gave me an appreciation for all styles of music and has kept me from becoming the annoying old guy who hates all music not from his era. I am an annoying old guy in many other ways. Do yourself a favor and, if you are in a music rut or have not given new styles of music a shot change that. Listen to new bands and new genres. You might find a new favorite band.

Tater Talks Television

My wife recently decided that our FIOS bill was too high and called to see if we coud get a better deal. I thought I was going to lose HBO and possibly other channels to lower the price. I know it’s cool these day to cut the cord, but I’m a TV guy and I need my cable. It turns out that by agreeing to a two-year contract we can reduce our price significantly and upgrade to the better DVR and faster Internet speeds.  I’m happy to upgrade, but that means we will lose everything currently on our DVR. We have a month to catch up on shows before they are gone. This made me think about which shows I care the most about. So, today I will go night by night and pretend I have to choose only 1 hour of TV to keep from the broadcast networks and tell you my choice. Very exciting right?

Sunday – This is an easy one because we really only watch one major network show on Sunday night – Madam Secretary. If it was on any other night it would lose. If I was also including cable networks it would lose to Walking Dead. My daughter loves it, though, so we watch it regularly.

Monday – We watch a few shows on Monday night. The Gifted and Supergirl are both very good, but they can’t come close to beating Lucifer. I love this show. The basic premise is Lucifer has left Hell and is living in LA. He ends up acting as a police consultant. It is a police procedural with an overlying story of Lucifer’s conflict with his dad, God.

Tuesday – Another tough one. I really like Flash and Legends of Tomorrow is getting better. I still love The Middle and Brooklyn 99 is one of the best comedies on TV. They all lose to Lethal Weapon. When I heard they were making a TV show based on the movie I was skeptical.  I was wrong. It might be my favorite show on broadcast television. The Wayans and Crawford and great as Murtaugh and Riggs. The supporting cast is very good. It is well written and very funny for a cop show.

Wednesday – I love the ABC comedies Speechless and American Housewife. Riverdale is very good. Blacklist is OK, but getting old. I would still choose Survivor. I still love it after all these years. I will miss watching it every week with my daughter when she goes to college.

Thursday – The NBC comedies are very good and if I was choosing on current quality alone I would keep Superstore and The Good Place, but I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy since the beginning and I will stick with it until the end at this point. I also life SWAT and Chicago Fire, but I”m sticking with my doctors.

Friday – An easy one. I only watch Blue Bloods and SHIELD and I would not be sad if SHIELD was canceled. I know Blue Bloods seems like an old person show, but I’m old, so…

Saturday – I got nothing.

 

Ice Ice Baby

Due to the threat of impending inclement weather my library closed at 1 today. I also had a free sandwich at Mission BBQ that expired today, so on the way home for my surprise free afternoon I also got a free sandwich. It was the perfect storm of good fortune. I did underestimate the traffic that would already be out at 1PM on a day when many offices and schools closed early.  I also underestimated the level of stupid in the other drivers. Also, I might have a slight issue with road rage.  Anywho, this means that I have time to write a rambling blog post about random stuff instead of reading my book.

We watched the Golden Globes last night. Well,  I watched most of the Golden Globes last night while reading my book. Well, I watched a good portion of the Golden Globes last night while sleeping with my book in my lap. I did see the Seth Meyers monologue and thought he did a good job. I have not seen most of the nominated movies, so I can’t really comment on those awards. I also have not watched many of the TV shows nominated. I was happy to see Aziz Ansari win. I love Master of None. I slept through the Oprah speech, but I will say that I am anti anyone from the entertainment world being our next president. If we keep going this direction, we might as well change the process and make it a reality show. On the plus side, if it was a reality show more people would probably vote. Maybe I’m on to something here.

As I write this, my daughter is watching Friends over and over again. I don’t get the binge watching thing. I can watch a couple of episodes of a show and then I’m ready to move on to something else. I get bored with the same thing over and over no matter how good it is. I need variety. I seem to have lost control of my TV. That’s unfortunate. I guess I will read my book with Friends as my soundtrack.

Happy ice day!

My Year in Reading 2017

This is the year I finally got lazy and stopped keeping my written list of the books I read. I might try to go back to it this year. You never know when Goodreads might disappear. All of the stats are from Goodreads. My top book are the ones I gave five stars and then the four star books I felt were the best of the rest.  I started the year with a 1000 page book and ended the year with a 700 page book.This year will be an easier start for me. So, here it is – my year in reading for 2017:

Top ten books read in no particular order

  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill
  • Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • Revolver by Duane Swierczynski
  • Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick(I might have a crush and it was audio so she read it to me)
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Honorable Mention

  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King
  • The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor
  • IQ by Joe Ide
  • Spoiler Alert by Michael Ausiello
  • Unbelievable by Katy Tur

Book I would most recommend

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. It was close between this, Impossible Fortress and The Hate U Give

Worst Books I Finished

  • Who Is Rich by Matthew Klam
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera(though a teenager implied I was too old to get it)

Book I Dustbunnied

None this year. I finished History is All You Left me because it was for work. I’m not sure why I kept reading Who is Rich. I need to be better about abandoning bad books.

Number of books read: 104

Number of pages read according to Goodreads: 30869. I did the math and that averages to 84.5 pages a day. I think I can do better.

 

Santa Problems

rudolph

 

I saw this picture on Twitter this morning and started thinking about some other issues with Santa.

In addition to the above, Santa was also very rude to the elves in Rudolph. He really didn’t come across as a nice person at all in the majority of the show.

In Santa Claus is Comin to Town he is a much nicer person but spends the entire time breaking the local laws. I also find it disturbing that a man comes to town, seduces the local teacher and uses her to convince the kids to leave their doors unlocked at night so he can sneak into their houses. His best friends are a confused penguin and a reformed evil wizard.

In Year Without a Santa Claus, he is depressed and quits his job because no one respects the work he does. I can relate to this one more than the rest. His wife has to enlist the aid of the feuding sons of Mother Nature to save Christmas. I bet Santa took all the credit himself.

In the songs, he sees me when I’m sleeping. That’s just creepy. I need a restraining order.

He only works one day a year and still, we are expected to tip him with cookies and milk.

I’m not sure Santa is a good person.

 

Every Story Has an End

Day 16 of the month of Tater and I’m sure based on the title you’re thinking “Oh no. Another one of his sappy ‘feelings’ posts about death or change or something”  Good news, fake reader! You’re wrong! This is about actual stories in books, TV and movies.

I watched the series finale of Vice Principals this week. It was only on for two seasons and Danny McBride says that this was always the plan. He had a story. He told the story. The story is over. I like that. Every story has an end and it is better if the creator of that story writes the end(unless your name is George RR Martin). Too many times, a story is not allowed to end naturally. It goes on way past the natural end or it is ended early due to ratings issues.

Under the Dome was a good Stephen King book that would have been a good TV mini-series. Unfortunately, the ratings meant the network kept asking for more, so the story dragged on and on way past the natural end. The Mist, on the other hand, was a TV series that I worried would suffer the same fate, but instead, was canceled after one season mid-story. I would rather a TV show have two very good seasons and then end than go on indefinitely, even after there are decent stories to tell. Unfortunately, it is a business and driven by money, not story.

The same happens at the movies. Some movie franchises end before the story is over because of poor earnings. Some franchises(I’m looking at you, Transformers) go on way too long. Sometimes, the franchise tells the story in full but does something stupid like split a book in to two movies when one would suffice(cough, Twilight) in order to wring some more money out of the fans. Again, a creative industry driven by money, not creativity.

Alas, the same happens with books. Usually, with books it is the problem of a series going on too long. I’m not sure I need another Stephanie Plum or Alex Cross adventure, though I admit I am part of the problem because I keep reading them.  If you can keep the stories fresh, a long series is fine. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Connelly’s Bosch series and Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike are some examples of that. The worst offenders in the “stop already” book series are the “the author keeps writing after they are dead” series. I get the desire to finish a book if the author was close to done upon their death, but that’s about it. We don’t need more Vince Flynn books if they aren’t written by Vince Flynn. Terry Pratchett had the right idea when he directed “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all” to stop people from writing “Pratchett novels” after he was gone. More authors should go this route.

Every story has to end. Please let them end naturally.

 

Watching Until the End

I came really close to not doing day 10 of the Month of Tater. I feel weird doing the blogging thing when people are around. My family does not understand why I do it and look at me weird when I say I am writing a blog post. I’ve not been alone all day, so I was leaning toward not doing it. I did, however, say I was doing this every day this month, so here it goes. I had two thoughts on what to write today. A very shallow post about long running TV shows I’ve watched beginning to end or a deep, introspective post inspired by a line of dialogue on one of those shows. I’m going shallow.

There are a handful of long running shows I’ve watched from the first episode to the series finale. I’ve given up on a lot of shows because I lost interest. A lot of shows get canceled early. These shows lasted a long time and held my interest for the entire run. I’m probably forgetting about some older shows, but these are my memorable ones.

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I remember when they announced that Joss Whedon was doing a TV version of the movie. I was very excited and people thought I was weird(I am) for being excited about a TV show based on a mediocre movie. Turns out I was right to be excited. It is still one of my favorite shows ever, even though the Riley and the Initiative storyline was terrible. I also watched the entire run of Angel, but it was a shorter run. I’m sad that I can’t get my kid to watch it.
  2. ER – This is one that almost lost me. As time went by, most of the original cast was gone and they finally hit a season that inspired me to write a blog post that ER was crashing, but I kept watching. Every medical show I’ve watched since has been compared to ER and have come up short. I’m not sure anyone will ever do one as good.
  3. Gilmore Girls – I almost didn’t include this one because I wasn’t sure I watched from the beginning. I realized, though, that I had to have started from day one because I didn’t have access to old episodes easily back then. I have always unapologetically loved this show that most men wouldn’t admit watching. The dialogue was great. I loved the characters(until they destroyed Rory in the Netflix revival). It was a great show.
  4. Santa Barbara – I watched soaps with my mom. I loved Days of Our Lives, but Santa Barbara was my favorite. I watched the first episode and the last episode and most of the ones in between. I doubt I got all of them as I went to college in the middle of the run. I did, however, find other Santa Barbara fan in my dorm and we watched together whenever we could.
  5. Grey’s Anatomy – The show that inspired this post. I was watching the 300th episode this morning and thought about other shows that I’ve watched from the beginning. I love that they still have 4 of the original characters on the show after 300 episodes. I like a lot of the new characters. I hope it’s true that this season will be lighter and funnier. I think it is a better show that way. I don’t plan to stop watching any time soon.

Do you have any shows you started on day one and watched to the bitter end?

Some Random Friday Thoughts

Just a quick post with some random thoughts that are not interesting enough to warrant an individual blog post:

Twitter – I’m not good at Twitter. I mainly use it to follow sports and news feeds. I don’t post a lot, so of course I am qualified to talk about Twitter use. Twitter was created with a limit of 140 characters. It wa nice and short and easy.  Now they have expanded that to 280 characters. Before that the dreaded Twitter thread had become the norm. So many times I am on Twitter and I see a post that says it is the start of a thread and then the person proceeds to write an essay 140 characters at a time. Twitter was not meant for long form writing. If you want to write an essay, start a blog. I am proof that they will allow any untalented hack have one.

How Do You Like Me Now – The Toby Keith song is stuck in my head this morning and I have to admit that I always wanted to have a “How do you like me now” moment. I wanted something that would allow me to show the people who doubted me that they were wrong. I’ve never had that moment. I didn’t achieve fame. I don’t have an impressive job. I’m just a boring, normal person. Part of me still longs for one of those moments even though I know it is not going to happen. Boring, unattractive, middle aged librarians don’t generally get that type of thing.

TV – I ddn’t do my normal “What’s on TV” posts this year because I was out of the country when the new season started. I’ve watched several of the new shows this year and I have to say that I’m not impressed. The military shows all seem like the same show. The comedies were OK, but not good enough that I kept watching. So far the only new shows we watch regularly are The Orville and Ghosted. We like The Gifted, but it is still on the bottom of the list when we are scanning the DVR. Maybe the midseason shows will be better.

I probably have more, but it is time for me to get ready to head out to work.

They are All in a Snow Globe

I saw an article yesterday that a character from the canceled Chicago Justice television show will move to Law and Order SVU. I knew that the Chicago Fire universe had already crossed over in to the Law and Order universe. This was just a reminder and made me think about how many shows are now connected.

Chicago Fire, PD and Med are all obviously connected, so that means they are all in the same universe as the Law and Order shows. Law and Order is connected to Homicide Life on the Streets via the character of John Munch.  When Homicide ended, the character moved over to the Law and Order universe. So, now we have connected the Chicago shows to Law and Order and Homicide. Munch ties them in to a lot of other shows. He was everywhere. He appeared in one episode of the X-Files, an episode of The Wire and was mentioned by Luther in the BBC show Luther(all according to Wikipedia.

So now we have Chicago Fire connected to the X-Files, The Wire and Luther. I guess that means of they wanted they could add some X-Files weirdness to a storyline or have Luther visit from the UK.

The connection to Homicide leads us to the Snow Globe. Two characters from St Elsewhere once crossed over to Homicide. That means all of the above mentioned shows are connected to the St Elsewhere universe. In the St Elsewhere finale, it is revealed that everything in the show is a figment of the imagination of an autistic boy looking at a snow globe with the hospital building inside it.

So, next time you watch a show in the Chicago franchise, remember that everyone there is just an imaginary person living in a snow globe.