My Mother

Today is October 27th. A day some sons would remember, if it was the day their mother died, but I’ll probably forget in time. I don’t remember the date that my father died. I didn’t really mourn their deaths. It’s different situation when you say goodbye to family members who don’t remember who you are. You tend to reach deep into your memory, and think of them as they were 10 years ago, when they knew your name.

Both my parents suffered similar memory loss around the same time, which rare I’m told, but makes perfect sense if the loss was triggered by environment. I suspect something like the aluminum pot my mother cooked Sausage casserole in, or some similar case. The doctors use all sorts of words to avoid saying Alzheimer’s. Officially it is some sort of dementia.

In any case, I said goodbye a long time ago to both, so m mothers death last night comes more as a relief for her, and for the family. I won’t turn this into a political blog about the right to die on your own terms. She lived a long and happy life, and despite not remembering much from each day, she still managed to smile and make others smile with stories from her past. In the final years, the stories were completely fictional, and sometimes outrageous, but she always told them with a smile, and made others smile.

I have my own stories too. I started a list of mom memories a few years back, just as I did for my father. As you get older, you tend to tell the same few stories over and over, and both my parents had their favourites. As I recall each one from here till my death, they’ll make me smile and remember them. They both lived to be over 85, older than the memories of my Grandfather ad Grandmother before them. A good life I suppose, and although we were a close family in many ways, I never really knew much about my parents, beyond how they related to me. They were superheroes for my early life, and then, as happens to most of us, I began to grow older myself, and discovered that my parents were just people, with flaws like anyone else. My mother was not a superhero, and in fact, suffered from depression and self esteem issues much like I do. She saw the negative in life rather than the positive, and often told the sad side of any story.

019 100_0206 100_0248 100_0252 IMG_0010 IMG_0076 IMG_0096 mom 3 Christmas 2013  momthinner tuckers with mom 000_0005 004 012 013 (2) 015 018 (2)

Still she was my mother. The prettiest of all mothers, and the coolest. She was a teacher, and a theatre performer. Our house parties were great, always attended by other actors from Georgetown playing games and telling stories.

I saw little hate, or anger, or prejudice in my mother. She was supportive of me, even before anybody knew what attention deficit disorder was. I feel she was always a little sad that everyone told her I wasn’t living up to my potential, which was what they said about smart A.D.D kids that couldn’t sit still enough to read a book or finish a report. I didn’t do very well in school, but everyone agreed I was smart.

I got into computers at an early age in a time when adults didn’t, and although she tried her hardest to understand them, so we’d have something to share, it was clear she did it for me. She never really understood what I did for a living, and bragging about me was harder than it was for the other neighborhood kids who were doing well in school or sports… but I know she loved me.

My mother had a great sense of humour, and we shared that, often at the expense of my father, who tried – but didn’t. Perhaps his upbringing ina a foreign culture just made it harder to understand our humour, but Mom and me would make jokes al the time.

Although I was the youngest of 3, both my sisters were a generation older and moved out of the house fairly early. For much of my youth, I was like an only child. A full 7 and 9 years younger than my two sisters, I was the baby. I was perfect. I was over protected I suppose. My sisters were often in trouble or in the hospital. I wasn’t.

My own memory isn’t as stable with regards to emotions and family. I have huge blank spots for most of my childhood. I remember a lot of yelling coming from my Dad and crying coming from my Mom. He’d call her stupid and other such insults in anger. I’m sad I remember less of the good times, because I know there were many. We’d play games, and even though I almost never won any, it was still quality time.

I’ve lived away from Mom for the last ten years or so, as my sisters took care of her in BC. I visited once, and was frustrated to see her get old. I prefer my memories of pretty – reasonably happy Mom. It’s how I’ll remember her.

Holy Crap science

It’s Thanksgiving Monday as I write this, and I’ve taken it as a day off from work, so I am treating it like a Sunday. Typically Sunday has been the day if the week I watch some TV. I try my best to keep a balanced diet of television variety, which includes hour long dramas, but also non fiction shows from the higher network channels. Documentaries and science shows. Knowledge shows that educate or inform me I was the Internet doesn’t.

Today I am watching a narrated show on discovery science about weird inventions, and their first story segment was so mind boggling, that I had to pauseandblog. It was such a cool and wonderful advancement in science that I was a little shocked I’d never heard of it before. It seems the perfect story for a viral spreading.

Science has found a way to grow a man’s severed and lost fingertip back. In four weeks, with a powder sprinkling of crushed pigs bladder, a man who chopped his finger off, had a new one, nearly perfect, complete with matching finger prints and all. Like a slow magic trick, it just grew back, exactly like the body thought it was supposed to. He fooled the damaged hand to act like a salamander.

The show talked about military implications right away, I suppose because our soldiers lose limbs with far more occurrences than everyday life, but they also hinted that this was just the successful beginning, and eventually they may have to worry about the moral issues if they discover the same concepts can be used to regrow any parts, or in fact, a whole new body.

They broke on that dramatic chord and went to commercial. This segment leaves me with a mind of wonder. Instead if scarring, we could be trained to regrow our failing, I’ll, or missing internal organs, it would change everything. If replacing your failing liver was as simple as putting a cast on a fractured arm, a lot of people would be very happy.

The negative side of my brain recalls the evil villain scenarios, but art from the wrong people getting rich to save lives, we’d still be saving lives.

One hilarious side effect might be that all cosmetic surgery is treated by our bodies as injury, and all of the beautiful people revert. That reason alone may be why I don’t k ow about this. I hope it all turns out the be true.

The best reason to stay alive, is curiosity. I love the future. So much potential.



Prime Time Crime School

csiOne of the things I noticed about the CSI series of TV shows, was how they like to use situations from the news, and mix their murder mysteries into new and creative stories. Quite frequently, I find myself wondering how this effects the real crime world. They’ve touched on a few stories I’m sure some people would be much happier if they had not. Revealing secrets better kept secret of the crimes, the criminals, and the way the world works.

A past story once discussed a reasonably secret and evil drug (scopolamine) from South America that really should stay a secret. I was sad when I saw it used as a plot for an episode. A very evil drug that can be dosed to a stranger that removes their free will and turns them into an emotionless zombie slave, easily convinced to do just about anything with no resistance, and then have no memory of it the next day. It seems to good to be true for criminals. I was shocked that CSI decided it needed publicity. It introduced the idea to many people that would otherwise not know about it.

In this week’s episode, the mystery killing happened inside a legal medical marijuana dispensary. From the script writers point of view, this is a topical news item that almost begs to be used for a murder scene. It’s an underworld setting that few know about from first hand experience, but many are curious about. Pandering to a wide market of the weed smoking demographic, advertisers probably enjoyed a bump in viewership.

I decided to pauseandblog when the script educated me that such a dispensary is a prime target for a robbery. They explained to us that banks have a fear of the government seizing funds, so places like this are forced to deal in cash, just like regular drug dealers – except they have a building base we all know where they are, and the hours they keep. In this episode, the dispensary had over $300,000 cash on hand, and we are lead to believe this is common.  They even made the reference that anybody who knew how much money was involved, might be suspects. They’re almost saying; “We don’t know why we don’t get robed every day.” 

In my head, I instantly thought about the poor dispensary owners and employees in the real world, working a typical night shift in their stores. Network prime time TV just told the world these places have huge quantities of cash on hand. In this episode, the place had a stereotypically fat and slow security guard who almost didn’t notice the crime taking place.

Weed smokers get high, maybe even while watching this show. Some may play out their fantasies of a quick path to riches and actually try something like this. Robbing a store seems safer that ripping off a drug dealer, doesn’t it?

Shows like this often feed the criminals information they probably shouldn’t. Although much of this style of TV isn’t based in reality, they still explain a lot of things that are real. They may always show the criminals getting caught each week, and try their best to imply this is the norm, but real criminals know a lot of theft and killing happens without getting caught, and shows like this are helping to educate the bad guys and make them smarter criminals.

I’ve heard CSI often describe the crimes they’re having trouble solving as “almost perfect crimes”. In order to make the shows interesting, the plots are incredibly creative.  Many of their stories show pretty great ideas that could be tweaked and used in the real world. I wonder how often we see crimes that mimic TV shows. 

Tonight’s episode showed me a few tips for my criminal mastermind ideas.  First, find a stranger with cancer that uses a special drug that causes them to lose their fingerprints. I checked Google. It’s real.

Next, kidnap her kids are force her to do my crimes. Always use the victims phones. All good tips.

I am a nice guy. I don’t do crimes beyond speeding on the highway, but I do like to daydream.



The Gift of No Gifts

One of the issues I’ve had as an obsessive mind that overthinks every scenario of life, is regarding the idea of receiving gifts. I have very few memories of receiving gifts, where I enjoyed the process. That is one serious imaginary memory deficit. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy getting gifts, but I always hate the way I react. It stresses me to receive gifts, because a gift is somebody else’s idea of what I’d like, and seldom live up to hopes and expectation.

My mind pre-imagines all the things I want, but I never tell anyone my preferrences. I don’t like to ask.

Invariably the gifts received don’t live up to my hopes, in many cases, because my expectations were far from reasonable.  Because my sisters were so much older than me, I lived much of my youth almost like an only child with no cousins. My circle of gifts was smaller than almost anyone I knew.  My friends had more siblings, or more wealth, and I always compared my gifts to theirs with disappointment. As an adult remembering back, the reality is that I did quite well. It’s only my memory that retained the negative stories. I’m working on that.

For similar reasons, I don’t like to give gifts wither, and especially hate any situations where we might exchange gifts. The pressure of my obsessions is taxing. I can be in a foul mood for weeks in advance, or even the entire December gift season. As much as I hate the feeling or a bad reaction to a gift given, I don’t like the feeling of passing that on to others. Getting a gift you don’t like — or love, is stressful, because you’re forced to fake happiness and be polite. Giving the wrong gift is a horrible deal for both parties. It’s a failure. I hate failure.

Gift exchanges are even worse, because there is the possible cost differential to add to the uncomfortable feelings. You may have bought a cheap gift, or worse – a gift card or lottery ticket for a few bucks, and the other party spent weeks searching for a perfect present and spent more. When this happens, not only do you have the bad feeling of the wrong gift, but you have to cope with an obvious unbalance of cost. It can effect friendships if I let it. It can cause feelings that linger for years, generating additional obligations to make it up on the next annual birthday or party.

I have somehow managed to work my reputation into that of a guy who doesn’t do gifts. At all. I’m not sure how. It just happened. I don’t give birthday gifts, Christmas gifts or anything. In return, nobody gifts me. I say that I am happier with this arrangement, but I know I’m missing out on the joy and surprise of a good gift. It’s a brain thing. My gift is to not have to worry about gifts.

Now let me be clear; there is a huge part of me that loves getting free stuff. Any gift is at minimum, a surprise, a story, and a memory.  Great gifts are memories all by themselves. I have several ornamental gifts decorating my home, and each time I look at them, I am reminded of the person or event related to that gift. A good gift can be precious.

I suppose I’m not against the idea gifts itself, as much as I am afraid of receiving them in front of the giver. It’s the fact that I have to react live, and show happiness regardless of the gift.  My unhappy and stressful gift memories are of the bad and hurtful reactions. I find it hard to hide my disappointment, or fake it. On the other side of the coin, I can’t stop going on and on with gleeful excitement when I get a good gift. 

I wrote this with my birthday just over two weeks away. I know I will probably not get any gifts on my birthday. I am an adult. Not getting birthday presents is a normal fact of life for single adults. In one way I’ll be relieved, and in another way I’ll be sad.

Maybe it’s time to change my position, and reputation.


Two Minute Warning

Your soup is ready… but it’s not.

The microwave Macaroni and Cheese you can smell just beeped – but wait.

I am blogging about this exact situation while I am forced to wait that extra two minutes after my food has taunted me. It’s beeped the ready warning bell, but the box says no. I must not eat it yet. I must wait. I hate that wait.

It’s not that I can’t wait an extra two minutes for that cheesy goodness, but the problem is – I am far from the timer, so I must guess at how long two minutes is. It’s not that my obsessive personality feels the need to wait EXACTLOY two minutes… that isn’t the problem either.

The problem is, that with A.D.D I inevitably end up forgetting about the mac and cheese altogether within that two minutes, as something far more fascinating grabs my attention – for example, blogging about the two minute delay.

2014-10-03 16.19.09Have I waited long enough? I don’t think so. I type pretty fast for a guy who uses two fingers, but don’t get me started blogging about how shocked I am that the schools no longer offer typing as a class, despite the obvious fact that now, more than ever before in history, everyone needs to type. That is a blog for another day, when I don’t have cheese waiting.

MmmMmM. Glorious cheese.

Actually, to be honest – I don’t know if this cheese will be glorious. I’m trying a brand new type of Macaroni and Cheese. The President’s choice brand, although I suspect few presidents, be it of country or company would buy microwave Mac and Cheese, an even if they did, they’d probably buy the premium brand, not the cheap store brand. I know I usually do.

I am trying this brand for the first time with low expectations, but every now and then, store brands are good. Not often, but now and then, and if any product symbolizes poverty better than Mac and Cheese on a Friday night, I don’t know what… so if there were a product to make great and tasty, I think it’s be this one.  That’s forced optimism while I wait for the true taste test.

That has certainly been two minutes… I think. Time is hard to comprehend when you’re in a creative typing binge.

~~~ < symbolization the passage of time.

Mother would be proud. I tried something new, but if I am truly honest, I only did so because it was all I could find in the house, and it’s raining. I bought this thing maybe a year ago, and never really wanted to try it because I suspected it would be bad.

It was.

Not horrible, and not enough to make me gag, or not finish it, but it wasn’t good. It was a glorious Mac and Cheese dinner as I was looking forward to. The texture was good, and I actually quite like the MAC part, and the cheese was a nice orange and flowed with just the right thickness… but I couldn’t actually taste cheese. Sometimes the brain is good at filling in flavor. You can drink orange coloured drink and think it tastes like orange, but cheese that doesn’t taste like cheese is a disappointment. It was too much for my brain to make up.

I finished it, and for now – I’m not hungry… but I’m also not satisfied.



Infinity +2

I am about to watch the third episode of Forever.

Before I start with the traditional dead body reveal scene, I wanted to acknowledge the overall change I’m witnessing in the new series television dramas this year.  At least in the few I’ve watched so far, they seem to be throwing us the character back stories right away. They feel rushed to get it all out in the first two episodes.

 henryMorganWhen you watch any new 90-ish minute long superhero reboot movie like Batman or Spiderman or Superman, they always struggle with having to bother with an origin storyline, and that can take up half the first movie, or more. Nobody seems to want to just start in the middle of the story, despite the fact that everyone knows who Superman is by now. In a TV series however, we don’t know who everyone is in the pilot episode, but we’re usually content to learn more about them over the first year. Sometimes they keep us watching specifically because we don’t learn the secrets of the characters till seasons 2 or 3.

Before settling in to watch this week’s Forever, I had watched episode 2 of Scorpion. It’s an ensemble cast of a bunch of nerds, and I expected to see character development last a few weeks at least, but it seems they feel the need to rush this process now.  TV has become so competitive, and cancelations so swift, many shows each fall don’t even get a second episode.  If not enough people love a show, it’s gone. Somebody must feel we can’t love a show unless we know the cast better, so they reveal everything as soon as they can.

As is often the case when I start thinking – my mind wanders to deeper meaning, and I start to evaluate the entire concept of the fall season of pilots and premiers. So many things to watch all at once, it’s almost like a Television festival in our living rooms. An epic event. Must-see TV.

I know that many pilots are reviewed and evaluated by the studios, and some make it to the fall lineup. Others are reserved for a later release, or to fill in the holes made by cancelations. It’s a science that has changed over the years, thanks to competition from cable channels and the Internet, but the big fall season is still a big deal. It’s the network new-years eve party.

It’s tougher to get a show on TV these days than acquiring valued shelf space in a supermarket for your new soft drink.  I imagine a lot of personal favours are being called in, as business dealings are made.  When you consider all this, you have to question why so much absolute junk makes the cut. As is often the case when I daydream like this, I come up with a conspiracy.  I consider that many junk shows are produced for three base reasons.  Firstly, some bad pilot shows come to air because of contract obligations.  Second, some bad shows are only bad in my mind, and turn out to be great hits. I could never have predicted the success of that horrible alien sitcom The Neighbors. Network executives have a better understanding of what America likes than I do. I give the masses more credit than they deserve apparently. Married with Children ran for decades.  asdsadsI think however the third reason is more at play too. In order to keep TV an active participant in the entertainment wars, they need September to be a big gala event, with loads and loads of shows. Each season is filled with more shows and things to watch than they could possibly support. I think a lot of pilots are made, just to showcase a single talent or concept, but with the idea that it will fail. It’s padding. We want a lot of new stuff to premier, and they deliver. 

Perhaps HUNDREDS of new shows premier, and just like the first week of American Idol, we even enjoy the clunkers. Then, week two they have even more new shows. They fight via ratings for the single Tuesday night spot available. It’s almost an interactive game viewers get to play with their public opinion. The shows the majority likes stay, and the shows we hate, vanish… with the exception of Fox science fiction shows of course. They vanish no matter how much nerds love them. It’s a mean tease Fox seems to play, giving us great shows like Firefly and Almost Human and then taking them away after only a few episodes. 

Knowing the shows have to battle and beat others, and as a nation, we seem to like characters we know, they seem to have started rushing character development, hoping we’ll tune in week after week and keep a show going.

The show Forever cheated the system a bit this year, by presenting a two night, two episode opening night. If viewers came back the second day, they had us. Then they can use math and put the show in the schedule, either Monday or Tuesday depending on the numbers.

Always about those numbers.

At least Forever also has the advantage that it can tell 50 or more origin stories through each episode of the series. They rushed to tell us his basic premise – he is immortal without explanation, but we can now watch each week as they show us some of his history. Unlike a normal TV character, this guy, who looks about 30, has over 200 years of history. Thinking that through, he’s had to move around a lot. I suspect he only has 10 or so years to live anywhere before his unchanged appearance will generate too many questions.  We can get a character development origin story, every week.

I’m back for episode 3.

I hope it sticks around.

The Scorpion and the Frogstar.

scorpI watched the series premier of Scorpion last week, and blogged about how I was concerned that the time may have passed for the nerd drama> Too much of the audience knows the tech is fake these days, and it spoils their enjoyment of the show when they do silly stuff.

In the week since then, I have returned to that thought a few times in retrospective. I revisit the idea that nothing all at on TV is very real. This site will reveal this topic even more. The prime time network dramas are filled with unrealistic technology and actions, but we all focus on the ones we know. On hospital dramas, I’m sure they make all sorts of errors that must infuriate doctors and nurses, and even orderlies.  On police dramas, there must be people from that world that watch those shows, constantly nitpicking, or else just laugh the inaccuracies off.  Even I know a DNA test can take a lot longer than 4 hours.

In nerd dramas like Scorpion they may try to be realist, but in the end, I think I change my verdict. I have decided it is not a deal breaker after all. I accept the break from reality and still find a way to enjoy the action and plot of the show.

I’ve just watched episode 2, and the writers did an excellent job at using up almost all the remaining nerd stereotypes that they didn’t get to last week.  All the cliche technology bits were used, like bouncing the bad guy’s IP all over the world. I suppose not every computer user knows that isn’t really how it works.

I found myself enjoying the show anyway. I realized that all the other shows I enjoy do equally impossible things ever week.  Fiction doesn’t need to be based in reality. Even the reality shows are not really that real either.  I may spend the next week taking note of how fake my TV playlist is. It may be fun to start paying attention to how silly the shows I still watch really are. Since I’m trying to blog daily – it may provide me some new topics as the rest of the reason returns, and the new pilots appear.

Earlier this year as part of my therapy and progress, I decided to to test the abilities of my newly medicated, less obsessive mind to cut way back on my TV addiction. I stopped watching a lot of shows.  This is premier week for Network shows. It’s my first September since I cut off almost 50% of the ones I watched cold turkey last June. 

Not since the first ATI All-in-Wonder graphics card I configured with Snapstream, have I ever bailed on a series I enjoyed, or missed an episode, or watched them out of sequence. Addiction may not be the right world, but it was an obsessive trait I only began to understand once it lessened. I was watching over 40 hours of TV a week.

One day I made the decision and cut Bones, Hawaii 5.0, Mythbusters, and more.

I felt actual loss. 

TV is back and I’m feeling a bit weird not recording some of them. Withdrawal symptoms.

I can try to watch less, but in the end watching TV is who I am.  I’m Frogstar.


The ABCS of Me

FaceShotOne of the popular things that happens on Facebook from time to time, is your friends start posting lists and forwarding them. They also try to force you to do the same.  I have a policy to not do anything on Facebook that a status post dared me or even asked me to do. However I do often enjoy these kind of list posting because it lets me get to know people a little better. Although I’ve met and shaken hands with almost everyone on my Facebook friends list – that doesn’t mean I know them. Sometimes an informational post is helpful when making better relationships.

The answers on this list can be used to get to know me. They can also be used to build my FBI profile, or steal my identity, and I have to decide whether sharing is worth the risk. I’ve never really been scared away by conspiracy theories. I readily admit that marketers online want as much information about me as they can get. They love building detailed databases, and these answers will help. If it lets you know about me, it lets anyone know about me, and for now – I’m OK with that. My income and wealth are low enough that anyone who stole my identity would actually end up owing more money than they do now.

Having said that, here are the ABCs of Jeff Goebel.

A – Age: 50

B – Bed: Double size on steel stand and box springs. No frame or design. I prefer Queen size, but bought a smaller one two years ago when we couldn’t fit a Queen into my apartment.

C – Chore you hate: Dusting and Vacuum.

D – Dogs: No. I grew up with dogs, but since moving out at 18 have never had one. Barking bothers me.

E – Essential start to my day: Cereal and some news reading.

F – Favorite Color: ORANGE!

G – Gold or Silver: Neither. Not a Jewelry Person. I own no jewelry at all.

H – Height: 6′  No clue in Metric.

I – Instruments I play: I whistle. IN my head, I am quite god, but others may disagree.

J – Job:

K – Kids: None. Never wanted that stress and anxiety.

L – Living arrangement: Alone, although I prefer living with a roommate.

M – Music: All, as long as I can tap my foot to unchanged tempo.

N – Nicknames: I never had a nickname, but use Frogstar42 online

O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Not since I was 7.

P – Pet peeves: Loud Noises, Barking, Kids in my Jello Tree.

Q – Quote from a movie: “Wherever you go, there you are”

R – Right or left handed: right

S – Siblings: 3 – two sisters

T – Time you wake up: Around 6am with no alarm. Changes seasonally

U – Underwear: White Briefs

V – Vegetable you dislike: ONIONS and Squash

W – Workout Style: Walking weekends

X – X-rays you’ve had: Teeth, Shoulder

Y – Yummy food you make: Mac and Cheese

Z – The best place to visit: Back to Vegas! One day!

Memories of Dad

Every once in awhile when I’m watching a television show, and my mind thinks ahead and figures out how it’s going to end, it makes me remember my dad.

Picture 011My memories of him have pride attached. Like a good son, I looked up to him, and respected how smart he was, and how he could solve any problem with a home made solution. In retrospect, neither of my parents were really as smart or great as I always thought they were, but families have their own special kind of love blind. To me, they were both great, good looking parents.

All my life I’ve had a different way of looking at things, and thinking about things. My dad was a doer, and I was a dreamer.  He was more an engineer, and followed his ideas through to completion. I was more the dreamer that just liked coming up with the ideas. My mind has always been a bit obsessive, although I never had a diagnosis. I have always over thought things, and it effects the speed of my decision making process.

I’ve called myself a master of scenarios, while others have called me a devils advocate. When presented with a situation, I tend to create as many what if scenarios as I can. I always come up with possible situations that others didn’t think of. Sometimes that’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse.

This ability wasn’t always good at guessing the actual outcome that transpired, but it did generate a lot of ideas that frequently created fear and self doubt. Thinking up many possible outcomes for any given situation ended up being the main reason my life was filled with a lot of “No”.  If invited out, there would be enough scenarios with negative outcomes to tip the risk scale to my safe setting, and I would just say No. I would not attend. There was always a distinct possibility I wouldn’t enjoy myself at your party, or that movie, or that restaurant, or the spice.

On the positive side however, it was like a superpower when watching TV. My active mind always watches shows on two or three levels while I watch the storyline, I also evaluate the setting from the actors viewpoint, or the production side. I notice and remember plot points and inconsistencies. I am constantly thinking up scenarios about how the story will continue.

It gives me pleasure to watch a murder mystery, and solve the crime before the mid episode commercial break. I may revise and update my conclusions as the story unfolds, and I may imagine several possible conclusions. Because of this, I get to enjoy the equivalent of multiple new stories at once. The real show as it plays out, and the imagination versions I’ve created in my mind. Often my endings are totally different, but equally as satisfying as the real episode.

Sometimes I prefer my stories. My endings were better than the ones the show followed.

This is all fun and mind games until you watch with somebody else, and freely express your thought as the show plays live. It should come as no surprise that other spectators don’t share the same excitement when I guess who did it, how and why all before the the first 10 minutes have passed.  I can be the worst kind of spoiler dude, ruining shows live, with solutions that may or may not be right.

I’m worse that the person who you overheard in a line at the theatre talk about Darth Vader being Luke’s father, or that “the Judge is a Toon!!” even before you’ve entered the theatre. I’m even more irritating kid behind you in the theater that always whispers loudly to his friend before each plot point, unless he also keeps kicking your seat back, then he is the worst.

My father has a reputation within my memories of being loud. I don’t have too many visuals of anything other than him losing his temper. It is his defining character trait that trumps his genius in my memory vault. We always had to be careful not to upset him. 

However, in this one particular memory, I made him smile. Every time. Whenever I was able to guess the bad guy, way before he could comprehend it, he was always happy. Proud. 

I’d say; “It’s him. He did it” and he’d smile, and say; “How do you do that?”, emphasizing the second “do” in a tone I read aloud in my head as I write.

I have no memory of him ever getting upset at me spoiling the ending, even if I wasn’t right, which I usually was. I usually am. To be fair, TV shows are pretty easy to guess most of the time. It’s not rocket science, but to my father, it was a skill he didn’t process. His mind didn’t work that way.


A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the BBC series Sherlock off my Plex. A friend had recommended it, and was eager o re-watch it with me. I was given permission to talk aloud as we watched. Very early on, I paused and declared; I’d like to solve the puzzle Pat.

She didn’t know what I meant at first, so the joke fell flat, but I followed up with an explanation of how rest of the hour long show would play out. I got all the major plot and character elements right. She seemed a bit shaken by the experience. I could witness her face mould through a few variations before settling on a response. I’m sure she may have even thought about accusing me of having seen it before. I get that a lot.

Instead, she asked; “How did you do that?”

I smiled. It reminded me of my dad.

I told her this story.

Who Done Whodunnit?

whodunnitI found myself watching another episode of an old show I’m not proud to admit to; Whodunnit.

As is often the case, I find myself thinking about TV on two or more different levels. I can enjoy a show for it’s plot, or acting, or other ideas. I often explain my multi-level thinking to others, as if I am my own DVD commentary. I think about the actors and the direction, and the background players and the scenery. This show confused me a bit, because it’s one of the rare shows on TV that is so bad, it’s watchable. It’s a campy mixture of reality TV, role playing in a murder mystery house party.


I describe it as a home-style murder mystery party acted out each week, but the players are real people – not in any character. They play the role of detectives to try to figure out a crime.  Contestants of a reality show acting very poorly, trying to convince us the story is reality.  It’s an unusual mixture of reality and fiction, and real people find themselves “acting” to the death scenes they know are fake, but providing reactions as if it was real. It was that rare blend of watchable bad TV that made it entertaining on a few levels.

Each contestant must have been told the basics and were told to treat it as real. Like a bad movie or a house party plot, twelve random strangers gather together in a posh home, and presumably stay there for the duration of their “life” on the show. Each week, the loser of the solution competition is killed in some unusual way, and their murder is used as the plot for the following episode. The vote off is a common and easy to grasp formula for reality shows, but this was the first I know of where the contestants are treating the situation as if it was real.  They must fake shock and sadness when their competition are murdered, and they do it very poorly. The viewing audience isn’t treated to any additional information, so we can try to work out the solutions too.

A butler hosts, and I strongly suspect he will end up being the killer, not one of the guests.

While watching the current episode, it occurred to me that I was over thinking it. I’m sure each contestant was simply told to treat it as real. Much like we’re told to treat our own murder mystery parties. Once I accept the bad acting is real and sincere, but the rest of the game is more genuine, I can’t help but wonder why they are so dumb.  They don’t seem like dumb people, and I am hesitant to blame editing, because all the investigation the group does is solely narrated by the people. They know what I know, but wander around aimlessly drawing irrational conclusions. It’s very odd. They seem to ignore obvious clues with clear meanings. I’m not the kind of person that stands up and yells at the TV, but this show made me want to.

I think one of the reasons the show breaks from it’s half reality, half acting concept, and just seems bad, is because it’s also a content. We know the person who understands the clues, and is worst at crime solving will be the one that gets killed at the end of the episode.

If you were to ever find yourself really locked in a mansion with a killer, the group would probably be working together to save everyone. If you walk into a crime scene looking for clues, you share. On a TV show for cash, you act dumb, and share nothing. You covet the information for yourself, secretly hoping they kill off your competition. This explains why people don’t figure it out as quickly as we do as viewers, because we’re seeing it all, and they’re only seing pieces of the puzzle. People are not being helpful. In a twisted way, you want to be the last one standing. You win if you’re the murderer at the end of week 12.

It all makes sense now. I can continue to watch.