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2015 Fall TV Preview

Tonight is the annual Emmy awards show, where actors and shows from the previous television year are recognized for excellence, or because they air on a network and have flumped their way to broadcasting a level of pablum that is an achievement in itself. It also marks the start of the new fall TV season, so this guide to the new network shows is just in time to let you know which shows are worth your time. My selflessness knows no ends.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
CBS 8:30/7:30 Life in Pieces This is one of those multi-family shows, in the vein of ABC’s Modern Family, except no one is gay, and they’ve found a new way to make bodily function jokes. Also, Jordan Peele (from Comedy Central’s Key and Peele) shows up for what I hope is more than just a cameo.
8/7 (Nov. 1) Supergirl Remember the CW show Smallville, which was about Superman when he was a teenager, but played by a 30-year old? This is the story about his cousin, who like Superman, was jettisoned by her parents from a dying Krypton (too bad that family didn’t bother sharing their child-saving technology with anybody else, huh?), and like Superman protects her identity by wearing glasses and living in the most densely populated city in the U.S. Importantly, the trailer for the show manages to include both a woman providing an excuse for the sexist title (why not Superwoman?), and a male co-star who mansplains to Supergirl how to be a hero. Good times!
ABC ABC is airing no new shows on Monday, preferring instead to take their counterprogramming chances with the 83rd iteration of Dancing with the Stars.
FOX 9/8 Minority Report Remember the 2002 movie by the same name, which starred Tom Cruise, and had the same dissatisfying ending of every Philip K. Dick story ever? Now you can experience that dissatisfaction every week! This is Fox’s latest failed Sci-fi drama, following last year’s Almost Human, 2012’s Alcatraz, 2011’s Terra Nova, and 2010’s Dollhouse (I had to look up that last one).
NBC 10/9 Blind Spot OK, so tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A duffel bag shows up in the middle of an empty Times Square. Inside is a naked woman, covered with tattoos. Turns out, she’s an amnesic super spy whose tattoos are a cryptic message about her past, or maybe something having to do with the future, or perhaps a lasagna recipe. This show is apparently an attempt to capitalize on the wildly popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novel by Stieg Larsson, with the hope that audiences will remember nothing about it except that it featured a girl, with a tattoo.
CW 8/7 My Crazy Ex-girlfriend This show was originally a racy, foul-mouthed half-hour comedy on Showtime, but is now an hour-long comedy on the CW, because sure, why not?


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
CBS 10/9 Limitless It seems most of the TV shows this season started with the pitch, “Hey, remember that time when there was that show/movie/idea…” This show is no exception, capitalizing on the somewhat popular 2011 movie by the same name, which starred Bradley Cooper as a drug-fueled supergenius. Cooper makes a return in the pilot, but only sticks around long enough to get a new guy hooked on whatever he was using. A strong, family message for the kids, really.
NBC 9/8 Heartbreaker Quick: what do you expect a show called Heartbreaker to be about? A supercute guy or gal who’s constantly disappointing would-be paramours? A horrible cardiac surgeon, perhaps? Two flatulent mice sharing a flat in Budapest? Well, the second choice would’ve been the closest, as it’s actually about a heart transplant surgeon. This show will be replaced at the start of the TV season by Chicago Med (wonder what that one will be about?), while the lead in Heartbreaker takes leave to have a child.
10/9 Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris The title of the show is somewhat confusing, as it’s not clear to me whether this is, in fact, the best time you could ever, ever have, or merely the best time you could ever have with Neil Patrick Harris. But I digress. As does the show, apparently, consisting of a hodgepodge of skits, pranks, games, celebrity appearances, and amateur performances. If the opening credits don’t show someone throwing spaghetti at a wall, I’ll be disappointed.
ABC 8/7 the muppets No one will ever voice Kermit the Frog exactly the way Jim Henson did. No one else can seem to quite capture the spirit of his creations either, but we’ll watch this show anyway, in the hope it won’t be as bad as past resurrections, and for the can’t-miss doses of Statler & Waldorf in the balcony.
10/9 Quantico How often you must’ve found yourself wondering, “What do young FBI recruits look like when stepping out of the swimming pool?” Finally, here comes a show that can answer the question. Other secrets from the FBI’s training program are also revealed, such as, how to look sultry to your co-workers, and hey, one of us is a terrorist?
FOX 8/7 Grandfathered John Stamos, who played the hilarious Uncle Jessie in the iconic sitcom Full House, plays the hilarious role of a Greek restaurateur who irresponsibly fathered a child he didn’t know about for a couple/few decades, and that child also just became a father, so now John Stamos is a grandfather. Therefore, he’s not really “grandfathered” into anything, but he’s joined in the cast by Paget Brewster who played the hilarious serial-killer hunting Emily Prentiss on CBS’ Criminal Minds. It’s unclear at this time what could possibly go wrong with this show.
8:30/7:30 The Grinder Oh, I sure hope this is a show about a baked sub-style sandwich! Let me check the previews. Nope. Not about sandwiches at all. Turns out this is an Odd Couple-type story where Rob Lowe plays a character who played a lawyer on TV, and is brother to Fred Savage, who plays an actual lawyer. William Devane also stars as their father. It’s not explicitly stated in the advance materials, but I’m guessing he fathered them with two different women. After the end of an eight-year run for his show where he played the most popular lawyer on TV, Lowe’s character moves back to Boise, ID, as most TV stars do, and busies himself by meddling in his brother’s life. This is a comedy.
9/8 Scream Queens I’m a little nervous to out-and-out guess what this one might be about, so let me do some research first. Ah, I see. It’s a black comedy/satire type show that centers on Kappa House, a popular, elitist sorority that’s forced to change its ways and accommodate all comers, even though there’s a bunch of murders that happen, or something. The show is executive produced by the team that brought us Glee, and stars Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis (who plays the Jane Lynch-type role of antagonist/disciplinarian). The color of Curtis’ track suit was not revealed.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC ABC has no new shows scheduled for Wednesdays.
CBS 10/9 Code Black If you’ve missed a high-stress, fast-paced hospital drama in your TV life, this is the show for you. Well, either this one or Chicago Med on NBC Tuesdays. You make the call. This one has the advantage of taking its name from a situation where there are more patients than resources available to help them. Look for its spinoff next year, Governmental Allocations and City Planning.
NBC NBC has no new shows scheduled for Wednesdays, because – incredibly – they couldn’t come up with anything better than Mysteries of Laura.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC ABC has no new shows scheduled for Thursdays. Does ABC know they’re allowed to have new shows? This is confusing.
CBS CBS has no new shows immediately scheduled for Thursdays, as they will be airing an NFL game, and laughing at the other networks for showing anything other than reruns.
8:30/7:30 Angel from Hell Probably the fall’s most promising comedy (although, if you’ve been reading all of these previews, that’s not a tall hurdle to clear), it stars Jane Lynch (not in a tracksuit) as the guardian angel/weird friend to dermatologist Maggie Lawson. Can a woman of science accept a spiritual being in her life? Or will it turn out that Lynch’s character isn’t an angel after all? Or will fellow co-star Kevin Pollack lose his mind and just start doing Sinatra impressions out of nowhere and the director shrugs and says, “What the hell, let’s see where this goes?”
FOX Fox has no new shows scheduled for Thursdays. They know Bones and Sleepy Hollow aren’t beating the NFL. Way to give up, fellas.
NBC 8/7 Heroes Reborn Another deceiving title for a show that is not about sub-type sandwiches. Someone lost a bet with this one; that’s the only way to explain it. (Probably the bet was with Greg Grunberg.) The original Heroes show from a few years ago had about 2.5 good episodes, but stumbled badly after that, like someone who trips over the threshold while walking into a room and clumsily attempts to regain his balance all the way across it, only to fall into the fireplace. That was the original Heroes. How this one will differ from that one, I don’t know. My suggestion is to turn it into a cooking show that demonstrates how to make great sandwiches.
10/9 The Player You probably think this one will be about a card player, or maybe some suave dude who picks up women all the time, or a suave card player, right? Well, it is set in Las Vegas, but it’s not clear why. The gambling that takes place is about crime, which presumably could happen anywhere. The important thing isn’t the ridiculous, outright laughably bad premise, it’s that it stars Wesley Snipes.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC 8:30/7:30 Dr. Ken There you go, ABC! Way to get off the Schneid. I knew you had to have at least one more show in you. If you’re a fan of Ken Jeong, this is the show you’ve been waiting for, as he plays the eponymous character. If you’re a fan of unimaginative, thinly drawn, poorly written comedies, I’m pretty sure they’ve got you covered here as well.
NBC 8:30/7:30 Truth Be Told This show was originally going to be called People Are Talking, but apparently no one could come up with what it was they should be talking about. A more common problem than you’d think. Instead, we have a show about, um, two couples who hire a babysitter that they think might have done porn. Well. That certainly seems like something to talk about. I bet it turns out the babysitter has a twin sister. No wonder ABC felt safe putting a new show up against this one.
CBS Instead of coming up with new shows for Fridays, CBS and Fox looked at the two above, then gave each other a high five.


Nobody watches TV on Saturday nights. Probably why no new shows are scheduled.


Network Time (Eastern/Central) Show Why should you watch?
ABC 9/8 Blood & Oil ABC is the only network to offer new shows on Sunday, as Fox already has a solid lineup of comedies, NBC has football, and CBS just hopes CSI: Cyber and Madam Secretary don’t end up poisoning The Good Wife.

This half-baked monstrosity sees Don Johnson (occasionally) faking a southern accent, while acting as a patriarch eking out the living of a hardscrabble Texas oil tycoon. Some other characters are also present, but whether they’re supposed to prove more entertaining than Johnson and his accent, I can’t tell.

10/9 Of Kings & Prophets Finally! Another biblical drama. This one covers King Saul, Samuel the prophet, and David. It’s for the Game of Thrones crowd that doesn’t want to have to pay for HBO, I guess. Expect plenty of palace intrigue and politicking, bronze-age warfare, and sexytimes with people who have no access to indoor plumbing.

A Guide to Being an Author

Self-publishing authors are all the rage these days. With the advent of technology like ebooks, and platforms such as Kickstarter and Go Fund Me to help defray (if not outright cover) the costs of physical publishing, people today are able to bring their ideas to fruition easier than ever. No more vetting by monolithic publishing companies, or meddlesome editors interfering with your effort to bring to light your thoughts on the next earth-shattering idea. You, too, can be the next Malcom Gladwell, Amy Tan, or David Sedaris.

The only question, really, is what to write about to drive an audience to your Next Great American Novel? If you’ve perused lately, you’ll see that the adage “There’s no accounting for taste” is alive & kicking. But what can you write about that both hasn’t been covered, and will prove to be popular? One way to solve such a dilemma is to engage in an exercise where you come up with a list of book topics that almost certainly won’t generate any interest from the public, then write something that is the opposite of that. What follows is a list of titles I have handily compiled, to help you know what books NOT to write. All you have to do is figure out the book that is not one of these, and then write it, and publish it. Profits soon to follow. You’re welcome.

  1. The Technology of Babies
  2. A Sojourn with Monkeys: My Visit to the Topeka Zoo
  3. The Paradox of Black Light Candles: Understanding the World through the Prism of Impossible Dreaming
  4. Making Friends at the Mall
  5. A History of Church Picnic Menus
  6. Aloha Olaf: A Guide to Cabana Wear for Norwegian Beaches
  7. Learn Anything in About 20 Minutes: A Specific Guide to Being Terrible at Everything
  8. The Trouble with Overweight Giraffes
  9. A Restaurateur’s Guide to Dining at 3:15 p.m.
  10. The Curious Case of Diaper Disposal Systems around the World
  11. The Hamburger that Talked (About Politics in New Guinea)
  12. Mistakes Were Made: Why Pinatas Don’t belong at Funerals
  13. The Price of Misjudgment, or How I Spent 40 Years without Beets
  14. Why I Named My Cat Franklin Pierce
  15. Silent but Deadly: How Shrimp Flatulence Threatens the World’s Oceans
  16. A Pawn in the Game of Scrabble: Introducing Disruptive Innovation to Your Family Game Night
  17. The Day I Loaded a Dishwater on an Airplane: A Critique of Contemporary Law Enforcement Training at Airports
  18. The Armadillo Who Thought He Was a Bicycle
  19. Shrugging Your Shoulders at the World: A Self-Help Guide for Kindergartners
  20. Measuring Boiling Noodles in a Pot, and Other Bad Ideas

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

“Hi, honey, how was the bar?”

Oh, it was OK. I ran into Larry.

“How’s Larry doing?”

Well, unfortunately, he and Susan recently divorced.

“Oh, that’s too bad. I’m really sorry to hear it. Money troubles?”

No, she wanted him to learn the names of the fish.

Hands and a Foot

My wife and I marked our 10-year wedding anniversary this week, so I wanted to put up this post. It’s about a new toenail fungal medicine called Jublia. More specifically, it’s about this commercial for Jublia:

Jublia Commercial

If you didn’t click the link, the commercial shows an animated foot playing tennis against the words “Toenail Fungus” in block letters. Let’s review all of the problems I have with this commercial:

  • First, why does the foot have hands? “To grip the racket, you big dummy!” is what you’re probably thinking. But its Toenail Fungus opponent doesn’t have hands. Why does only the foot have hands? If Toenail Fungus doesn’t need hands to play tennis, what special qualities does the foot lack that require it to have two floating, disembodied hands? And why are the hands wearing purple rubber gloves? Is that allowed in tennis? Maybe only on the pro-am circuit?
  • Second, what sort of game is this they’re playing? At no point does the foot ever follow the rules of tennis. It starts by serving the ball not at the opposite side of the court, but rather directly at its opponent. It hits Toenail Fungus square in the gut! This is followed by a volley in which the foot repeatedly hammers the ball against the opponent. Were this tactic to be used on an actual tennis court, it would not result in a victory. Why not show the foot beating Toenail Fungus per the game of tennis?
  • Next, the foot is giddy and smiling throughout the commercial. (The big toe has a face.) Does it not know that it has no idea how to play tennis? Or is it taking some kind of sadistic pleasure in purposefully breaking the rules, just to physically damage its opponent? Does this indicate that you should also take a Xanax with Jublia?
  • Additionally to the point of the foot’s humanistic depiction, why is it wearing a visor? Did the ad agency think we wouldn’t take the foot seriously as a tennis player if it merely had the face, hands and racket involved?
  • The stadium is shown as being packed with lively fans. I’m going to assume the people there had no idea about the match they were about to see. I mean, if someone told those folks, “Hey, let’s go watch a tennis match!” and then they asked who was playing, and were told, “Just a disembodied foot versus some toenail fungus,” and they still showed up in droves? I am really not OK with that kind of world. On the other hand, if they didn’t know who was playing ahead of time, but still stayed to watch a foot versus a fungus, I’m probably even less comfortable with that.
  • Finally, considering that the foot is depicted as being infected with toenail fungus itself in the commercial, why not show it being gradually cured over the course of the ad? The foot looks just as bad at the end as it does at the beginning!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of these seeming discrepancies and confusing plot points in this commercial. After all, if you can’t trust a drug maker to make an accurate cartoon about an anthropomorphic foot playing tennis, how is it supposed to cure whatever it is that ails you? Also, Happy Anniversary, honey!

Capturing an iPad app via Adobe Captivate

I’m hoping this blog post finds an audience to help me solve a problem I’m facing in capturing an iPad app with Adobe Captivate. Here’s some background on the project, since you might be wondering why I’m trying to create eLearning for an app because aren’t all apps supposed to be intuitive and easy to use?

The app works in conjunction with a desktop/laptop application. The desktop application pushes data to the iPad app, basically. Therefore, the eLearning needs to not only show how to use the app, but also how to use the desktop application to push data to it.

The chief problem I’m having is capturing the actions in the iPad via Captivate. I’m using Captivate 8 on a Mac laptop, and I have an AirPlay application installed to mirror the iPad to the Mac screen. When I go to record in Captivate, it seems I have two options:

  1. Set it to record in video mode, which allows for all of the beautiful animation of the app to be recorded. Unfortunately, I can add only highlight boxes to this; I can’t include a mouse cursor or other objects or interactions to this. I can pan & zoom, but that’s it, right?
  2. Set it to record a software simulation, and manually click on the capture area on the laptop to mimic what is happening on the iPad. This allows for highlight boxes, etc., but leaves out some of the animation within the app.

Is there another option I’m missing? Any help is appreciated.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 8

This week, in light of last week’s debacle, I’m going to try something different. I’ll list the games, what I think the spread should be, and what the actual spread is.

Game My Line Actual Line Comment Pick Best Bet?
Minnesota at Tampa Bay Tampa Bay -3 Tampa Bay -2.5 It’s telling that Vegas doesn’t trust the home team with a full field goal here. Minnesota
Detroit at Atlanta Detroit -1 Detroit -3.5 While Atlanta is technically the home team, this game is being played in London. I think Atlanta will struggle to move the ball against the Lions defense. These are two teams moving in different directions. Detroit
Buffalo at NY Jets Buffalo -1 NY Jets -3 I know Buffalo is without Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. I know the Jets have played a tough schedule and have a defense that can hang with teams. But I know Geno Smith is not a good QB, and I think the Bills defense is plenty good enough to stop him. Buffalo
Chicago at New England New England -3 New England -6 Yikes. The Bears certainly haven’t looked great this year, but are they this bad? After all, they’re 3-1 on the road! I could see the Patriots winning by a touchdown, but I can also see Belichick doing just enough to get his team the win as they face an even bigger test next week against Denver. Chicago
Seattle at Carolina Seattle -3 Seattle -5.5 Seems like Vegas doesn’t want to let go of the story about the Seahawks being the defending Super Bowl champions. There’s little to recommend the Panthers here, and Seattle’s defense should be able to limit the Panthers. Seattle
Miami at Jacksonville Miami -6 Miami -6 Well, here’s one game I called correctly. Miami is just too hot right now. This might be the gift of the week. Miami Yes
Baltimore at Cincinnati Cincinnati -1 Baltimore -2 The Bengals certainly miss AJ Green, but more than the absence of their top player has to account for how wrong things have gone for them since their bye week. Baltimore, meanwhile, has looked mostly dominant this year. This is a revenge game for the Ravens, who lost to Cinci in week 1. Hard not to like a home dog, but the Ravens are the better team right now. Baltimore Yes
Houston at Tennessee Tennessee -1.5 Houston -3 Ryan Fitzpatrick is not an elite NFL QB. But neither is anyone the Titans are going to put on the field. Houston
St. Louis at Kansas City Kansas City -3.5 Kansas City -7 Another intrastate rivalry game for this week. The Chiefs are the better team, but St. Louis can compete St. Louis
Philadelphia at Arizona Arizona -3 Arizona -1.5 I think Philly will struggle to score against a defense as good as Arizona’s. Arizona
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh Indianapolis -5.5 Indianapolis -3.5 I’m not going to be fooled by Pittsburgh’s win over a beat-up Texans team on Monday night. Indianapolis Yes
Oakland at Cleveland Cleveland -3.5 Cleveland -7 I mean…what? The Browns by more than three again? Oakland is not a good team, but I don’t see them rolling over. I think Cleveland is one of those teams that plays up or down to their opponent. Oakland
Green Bay at New Orleans Green Bay -3.5 New Orleans -2.5 In the same way Vegas seems to not want to give up on the story of the dominant Seahawks, they also appear to be struggling with coming to grips over how bad Drew Brees and the Saints are this year. Green Bay
Washington at Dallas Dallas -6.5 Dallas -10 Wow. Wow. Yes, Washington is awful. And who knows if the QB who starts for them will finish the game as well. Dallas

NFL Lines 2014, Week 7 Recap

So, it occurred to me after I posted the Week 8 Thursday Night Game pick (thanks, Chargers!) that I never posted my week 7 recap. I went a miserable 5-9, bringing my overall record to 52-51-2. My best bets (why did I include the Browns in there!?!?) went 1-2, bringing that record to 6-4-2.