Tag: tv


I sometimes wonder about things in idle moments. These things have absolutely no value other than curiosity. On and off again, I have wondered, for instance, how many episodes there are to a long-running soap opera. I always forget about it after a moment and never think to look it up.

Today, I remembered.

I looked up the number of episodes of the popular soap opera General Hospital (the only one I knew by name). It turns out that since it’s birth in 1963 there have been 11,326 episodes through June 18, 2007. That’s incredible of you consider that between April 1, 1963 and June 18, 2007 there have been 16,149 days. The show does not air on weekends, so if you subtract weekends out of that figure, there have been 11,535 possible days that the show could have aired. In all that time, it missed 209 possible slots for one reason or another. Percentage-wise, General Hospital has aired a new episode 98.2% of non-weekend days in the last 44 years.

I guess you get pretty good a memorizing scripts in that line of work.

Unsettled dreams

I was in bed just before 8 PM last night. It was still light out, but I am trying desperately to get onto a consistent schedule and I figured if I got into bed, I wouldn’t be distracted by TV; I could sit quietly and read for 30 minutes or so, which is exactly what I did.

It has been getting pretty cool at night–the temperature last night dipped to 37 degrees. I had the central heat turned off in the house, but turned on my trusty space-heater in the bedroom. I woke up at about 2:30 AM and it was cold in the room. My trusty space-heater of nearly 5 years had apparently died. (Fortunately, I have a newer space-heater that I keep as a backup in the closet and was able to pull it out on a moments notice and before long, the room had warmed up again.)

Thereafter, my night was thrown into unsettled dreams. Not nightmares, you understand, just short, strange dreams:

Earlier in the day, I sent mabfan an email asking him for some advice on author bios. I had a dream last night that he wrote me back an email message which I was certain contained the key to the perfect author bio, but whose letters were so garbled that no matter how I tried, I couldn’t read the message. (Fortunately, this morning, while brushing my teeth, I found a reply from mabfan with simple and excellent advice on this subject.

I turned on the Yankee game at 7 PM, having discovered it was on ESPN and watched the first three innings before deciding to call it quits and head off to bed. Shortly before or after (I can’t remember), I caught a few minutes of Mr. & Mrs Smith on HBO. I had another dream last night that Angelina Jolie and I had some kind of fight in a parking garage stairwell. I have no idea what the fight was about, or why we were in the parking garage stairwell in the first place (though I’m sure that strausmouse will have ideas enough for both of us). The dream lasted five minutes and was unusual in the sense that I almost never dream about movie stars.

When I turned out the light to go to sleep last night, I knew only that the Yankees and Mariners were tied. Just before going to bed, however, I got a text message from jkashlock telling me he was attending his first Yankees game (he’s a Mariner’s fan). I had a short dream last night that both jkashlock and strausmouse were spamming me with email about how “their team” won, neener-neener-nee-ner. When I woke up this morning I had no idea whether or not the Yanks had won or lost. I forgot to check before leaving the house, but discovered a short time ago that they lost 3-2 in a blown save by Kyle Farnsworth.

Those are the unsettled dreams that I remember. There may have been more that I don’t. Needless to say, I got 8 hours of sleep and when my alarm went off at 4:25 AM, I decided to take another hour or so, and skip the gym. It was a bad decision on my part, but something that I’ve been doing all too frequently. Sigh!

Relaxing evening

I’m looking forward to getting into bed, reading more of In Memory Yet Green and perhaps watching an episode or two of the Magnum, P.I. DVDs that strausmouse and rmstraus got me for my birthday.

And I’m looking forward to being able to sleep in a bit tomorrow.

Regular readers may have noticed I haven’t posted a workout since Wednesday. That’s because I haven’t been to the gym since Wednesday. I hit these stumbling points every now and then, but I’ll be back on the wagon, so to speak, Monday, if not sooner.

Restful evening

I headed home at 4 PM as usual and started In Memory Yet Green on the train, which is a pleasure as always. I love starting the these two volumes of Asimov’s autobiography because they total some 1500 pages and 650,000 words and I enjoy them immensely. I am always wistfully sad when I finish.

I watched 24, which I had TiVo’d last night. I also wrote a brief note to Trevor and thepopeswife because they recently moved and because I owed them a letter but haven’t had time to sit down and write one at length. And would you know it, while I was writing the note, I got a call from Trevor. He was at a Minnesota Twins game and the Twins happened to be playing the Orioles. How crazy is that!

I did a few chores. No mail of significance this evening. In fact, it was all junk. Now I’m off to bed. I’m going to read for an hour or so, and I have a tall glass of chocolate milk sitting here beside me. I feel guilty for not going to the gym today, but I simply couldn’t resist the gorgeous weather we had. The rest of the week is going to cool off dramatically (below freezing at night!) and so I think it was worthwhile.

Back to the grind tomorrow…

Why House is the most educational show on TV

If you didn’t catch last night’s episode of House, “Top Secret”, you should. It proves why House is the most educational show on TV. In an era when shows like Medium and Supernatural and Psychic Detectives are big hits, what a relief to have a show that sticks to pure rationality and reason for solutions to problems.

Last night’s show was interesting because House had a dream about a marine, who he’d never seen before, and who suddenly turned up as his patient the next day. And yet House stuck to his guns, did not leap toward supernatural explanations, and in addition to figuring out what was wrong with his patient, he also figured out how he could have had a dream about a patient before he met the patient. And it was all through reason.

I’m skeptical about some of the medicine on House. Granted, I don’t know enough about medicine to be sure, but I suspect like in any TV show, things are dumbed down, glazed over, and literary license is used. Setting that aside, the main focus of the show is not on the medical mysteries but on the methods used to solve them. Deduction, induction, reasoning, ruling out, ruling in, these are the way problems get solved, not by a crystal ball, lines in the palm of your hand, or Tarot cards.

Last night’s episode reminded me of one of my favorite Isaac Asimov Black Widower mysteries, “The Obvious Factor”. A mystery is presented at the gathering whereby it seems totally and completely impossible that there is any rational explanation. The guest tells a story and has his hosts completely perplexed. But not Henry the waiter. Henry points out that there is one obvious factor that has been overlooked by everyone else: that the guest is lying. And that, in fact, was the case. The guest made up the impossible events, and after ruling everything else out, the only rational explanation left was that he was lying. How many people would have liked to believe that the events described in the story could only be explained by supernatural forces, when an obvious factor still remained?

Gregory House may be an arrogant ass and have the bedside manner of foley catheter. But he’s one of my heroes because he doesn’t give into flim flam and nonsense. He keeps looking for rational explanations even when everyone else has given up.

Late night

I had a rare late night for a “school” night last night. (I still think of Monday nights as school nights even though I’ve been out of school for nearly 13 years now.) When I got home, I watched Battlestar Galactica and then I watched The Road To Bali. While doing that, I was chatting via IM with kruppenheimer for a while, keeping her from doing her work.

Then I was on the phone with Andy for a while. Then a short video chat with rubysnina. Then I had to pack my lunch. By the time I was finished with everything, it was 9:30, an hour later than I normally get to bed. But I wasn’t ready to go to sleep. I put on some music and played Solitaire for a while and before I knew it, it was 10:30. I tried sleeping at that point, but just tossed and turned until sometime after 11.

Nights like that are annoying because the later it gets, the more I think to myself, okay, less than five hours of sleep, and now less than four hours of sleep. I toss and turn.

I woke up at 4:24 this morning, less than a minute before my alarm goes off and I hate that. (Usually I wake up about 5 minutes before my alarm goes off.) I hate hearing the sound of my alarm and I had to rush to shut it off before it went off. I pulled myself out of bed wishing it was already Wednesday.

Lazy evening, busy day

I had a really lazy evening last night, sitting around catching up on various episodes of TV shows, when I could have been finishing up a final draft or working on one of the 4 other stories I’ve got going. The kitchen could use some cleaning too, but I chose to be lazy instead.

I did spend some time IM’ing with kruppenheimer, who has complained that she doesn’t get enough mention on my blog. But other than that, I was as lazy as can be.

One nice thing about last night: it rained for the first time in a while and at times, it rained pretty hard. It was nice to hear the sound of the rain on the roof as I was drifting off last night. It reminded me that spring is only a month away.

I have to get in touch with my new tax preparer this week. I got her name through a coworker. The guy that I used for years retired two years ago and last year I used H&R Block and really didn’t like their service. I’m estimating that I will owe about $3,000 for Federal taxes. I usually get a few hundred back from the state. Next year my taxes may be slightly more complicated, especially if I sell any more stories (optimist that I am) and hopefully this new tax person can answer questions about that.

These next three days at work are going to be busy. I have two projects that are rapidly heading to conclusion and one project on which a prototype is required by Friday. I am really looking forward to the 4-day break I will have for Norm and Vicky’s wedding beginning one month from today.

Goodbye Studio 60

I just finished watching Monday night’s episode of Studio 60 after having found out last week that the show is going on indefinite hiatus this week because of low ratings.

The problem here is that the writing is too smart for the average television viewer and that’s a shame, because the writing is brilliant. In some ways, this was the same problem that The West Wing faced. What really irks me about this is that CSI: Miami had a better share last night. I’ve seen episodes of CSI Miami with vickyandnorm. We make fun of them. The writing is terrible. David Caruso couldn’t act himself out of a wet paper bag with a chainsaw and a flamethrower. And yet it’s Studio 60 that’s going to ultimately get the axe.

What does this say to writers (or those of us who aspire to be writers)–of any medium? Good writing does not appeal to the masses. People want to be entertained and do not want to have to think about what is entertaining them. Ultimately, we write because we enjoy to write and create stories, even if no one else enjoys what we do. Good writing lends an extra dimension to that. It is clear to me that the major networks don’t care much about the writing, just what gets the most viewers, and by definition, that has to be something that is “dumbed down”.

On a positive note, however, Battlestar Galactica, which is on a smaller network, but which also manages to have very good writing has already been renewed for a fourth season.

I liked last night’s episode of Studio 60 and I think the show was getting better and better. One thing that made me laugh was the lawyer from “Cage Whitney”. Fans of The West Wing will recognize that as the same (fictional?) law firm that Sam Seaborn used to work for.

Next week the show is being replaced by The Black Donnely’s. Goodbye Studio 60.

Back in the driveway!

When I got home from work this evening, the warm, 50 degree weather had melted enough of the ice in front of the driveway that I was actually able to park my car in the driveway tonight for the first time in almost one week!

I finished SF AGE Volume 1, Issue 6, which completes the first full year of the magazine. I’ll be posting my thoughts later this evening.

Got my Amtrak GuestRewards Select membership kit for 2007 in the mail today. I number of free first class upgrades and free use of Club Acela. Ironically, it’s been so much cheaper to fly to NYC than to take the train that I’ve flown the last three times I’ve gone, so who knows if I’ll ever even get to use these benefits. Also got the latest issue of AOPA Pilot in the mail.

I’m going to relax for a while. I’ve got Heroes, Studio 60 and 24 TiVo’d and I’ll probably watch those. Then I’ve got the final draft of “The Folly of Man” to complete as well.

Babylon 5

I downloaded the pilot episode of Babylon 5 last night from the iTunes store. I read a review of the show in the premier issue of SF AGE and it sounded interesting, and I also received some additional recommendations for the show from other folks.

I watched it this afternoon and it was a pretty good show. I liked the pilot episode because it was essentially a mystery disguised as science fiction and that is always fun. The special effects were impressive, considering the pilot aired 14 years ago. All-in-all, I enjoyed it and will eventually get around to watching more episodes.

I have to say, however, that the best line in the show, in my opinion, came at the very end of the episode when the commander is trying to explain what poetry is to one of the alien ambassadors. “Poetry,” he said, “a story told in meter and rhyme.”

A look of realization comes over the ambassador’s face. “Ah,” she said, “‘There once was a man from Nantucket.'”

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

Saturday wrapup

Today was a lazy day for me. For one thing, I did not end up going to the gym today. For another, I slept a lot. I didn’t get up until 9 AM, which is late for me. After breakfast, I lazed around, watching TV until just after noon, when I decided to read. That lasted all of a few minutes. I dozed off on the couch for almost 2 hours, during which time I had those kinds of dreams where you dream you are asleep on the couch but can’t quite wake up.

In the late afternoon, instead of going to the gym, I headed over to the Outback Steakhouse, where I ordered the Aussie Cheese Fries (sans bacon) and watched two episodes of The Office on my iPod.

Incidentally, my video iPod has become the second biggest conversation-started, second only to my New York Yankees jacket. I tend to watch stuff on my video iPod when I’m at restaurants by myself. Lately, I’ve had a number of people (often the restaurant employees) come by and ask me what it is I’m watching, and telling me that they didn’t know you could watch TV shows and movies on an iPod. And if they don’t ask about the iPod, then some Red Sox fan will comment on my Yankees jacket.

I finally got a bit more productive later in the day. I completed by second recap of SF AGE. I completed the first draft of my story, “4005 B.C.” I made good progress reading through issue 3 of SF AGE. I spoke to Dad and Jen and Doug on the phone. I sent out some reminder email that I needed to send. I booked my flight into NYC the weekend of March 10-11 (I am taking a bunch of friends to the Rainbow Room Grill at the top of Rockefeller Center for my birthday, just as I did last year.)

I watched the latest episodes of 24 and Scrubs. And I downloaded the pilot episode of Babylon 5, after mabfan gave it a strong recommendation.

When all is said and done, it sounds like a busy day, but I still feel like I was pretty lazy today.

And eerily, I’m having a jkashlock moment: already I’m thinking about and looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning.


Earlier in the week, I talked about my writing habits and pointed out that one of the difficulties for me was not a dearth of ideas, but rather a lack of time. So beginning this week I am going to try and combat that somewhat by regaining some lost time. How?

No TV after work.

It’s that simple. I am going to forgo TV after work and allow TiVo to do it’s job. Assuming I get home at 5 PM, that gives me three and a half hours to pack lunch, eat dinner and do some chores. The rest of the time is my own. I can, for instance, spend an hour or so reading. But at the very least, I am trying to reserve the 7-8 PM hour to write. I get too easily sucked into TV and perhaps this will help reclaim some time.

So when will I watch all of the accumulated TV? Sunday’s, of course, my free-day. With the shows that I TiVo, I expect that I’d be able to get them all watched on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Now you might be thinking that I am really not gaining any time. You are wrong on two counts. First, I can skip the commercials of the TiVo’d shows, so I gain 20 minutes per hour (sad, but true). Second, while I could spending my Sunday afternoons writing for 5 hours, that’s impractical for me. If I sit down to write for an hour in the evening, I can usually get something done, and feel accomplished at the same time. (Sometimes, I may even write longer.) It doesn’t work the same to block out five hours on a Sunday and then try and write that whole time. With rare exceptions, I just can’t sustain that and I’d come away feeling like I didn’t meet my goal.

So I’m giving it a shot. No TV after work, which essentially means no TV until next Sunday. I’ll let you know how it goes.