Scary Time of Year

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This is the scariest time of year.

 

Yes I know we have Halloween, but that is not the scariest part.

 

Welcome to the Election Day nightmare.

 

It builds up for months then on the first Tuesday of November it explodes.

 

We suffer for months with endless ads from candidates and enemies of candidates on why to vote for or not vote for a certain person.  Add to this any referendum question and you have a full day of endless entertainment.

 

However it is not entertaining at all.  In fact, it is downright annoying.

 

Of course all these ads create great conversation sometimes not for the better as recently I found out by posting information about a candidate that I read somewhere else weeks earlier.  What happened at that point were a couple of vile and offensive remarks directed at me personally.

 

The bad thing about all this is that these people are friends of a friend (not my friends).  These people have never met me and have absolutely no reason to make the obscene comments that were made.  I was so angry that I called these people idiots and that is where the conversation ended.

 

Ironically, a couple of days later I read in a local free paper almost exactly the same things that I had written about a few days earlier.  Sadly I never got an apology from any of the offending people nor did I expect one as these people are completely ignorant in their views.  These are the type of people who go voting blind and cause the rest of us with results we don’t care about.

 

This is the reason why Maine is now the butt of everybody’s joke with our dumb governor Paul LePage.

 

So now I am going to try to enlighten those in the Maine area with what I think people should vote for and some unfortunate real results we will see.

 

Let me start with the governor’s race.  Here we have Republican LePage, running against Democrat Mike Michaud (current House member) and independent Eliot Cutler (running for a second time).  My choice for the second time is Cutler as I voted for him before and I like his brute honesty about himself.  The other 2 are in a dead heat, but both are angry politicians with views that would destroy the state.  Instead of the slogan “Open for Business”, maybe we should have “Closed for Demolition” as our new slogan as we slide into economic oblivion.

 

So now who is going to win?  Unfortunately, it won’t be Cutler unless somebody eliminates the other 2 in some dark alley.  We are in for 4 more years of hell given no matter who wins.

 

Now in the second district seat (not where I live, thankfully), we have the extremist Democrat, the criminal Republican and the NRA card-carrying constitution hugging independent.  While I won’t mention any of these candidates by name, let me say that my choice is none of the above.  I don’t think that any of them should represent this state on any ground whatsoever.

 

The other 2 races for Senate and U.S. House member is so far lopsided, they are not even worth mentioning here.

 

What is however worth mentioning here is referendum question 1 which would ban bear-baiting in the state.  I recommend a yes vote only because the bears are being treated in a cruel manner for the big kill.  Let us not forget that we built on their land, which is why they are entering many of our neighborhoods.  It is time we arm the bears to even the score.  I would definitely support that idea.

 

The rest of the referendums are to spend millions of dollars for various health related projects, most for locations to be determined in the future.  This is the problem with this whole idea:  just setting money aside for some random location with no solid plans is a waste of taxpayer money.  We should not pay for somebody’s random placement of some facility which may or may not ever pay off.  So I recommend a no vote on all these questions except for the sewer issue which corrects ongoing problems and comes up every year.

 

Finally in the city of South Portland where I live, there is a referendum to legalize small amounts of marijuana for those over 21.  I don’t recommend this one either as I have never seen any proof that marijuana is good for anybody, medical or recreational despite some claims made by voodoo doctors.  It should be banned period.  Of course this comes just a few months after the city didn’t want to build smokestacks to support tar sands in the city.  Am i the only one who doesn’t see the irony here?  I expect that this one might pass just because of the ignorance of its citizens despite the city council and police chief stating their desire to defeat this issue.

 

Overall, I expect that I won’t be happy with the results of this election cycle.  I also expect that these same feelings will be shared by thousands of others whose results were not as desired around the country in their own political battlegrounds.   However if you don’t vote you can’t complain.

 

So my recommendation is to vote early and vote often.  Only by voting can change happen everywhere that needs to happen.

 

More Problems with Last TWC Update

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This week’s post is going to be pretty short for this holiday week.

 

Last time I discussed the many changes (and not good ones at that) with the latest Time Warner Cable Navigator update.  However, 2 other changes happened as well which I noticed over the past week or so.

 

Both of these changes are noticeable if you go into the guide and select a show.  Scroll down to the “All Showings” item and hit select.  At this point, you should see a listing of multiple showings for that particular title if available.

 

The problem is that now if you scroll down this list looking for a particular episode by its title (assuming it is a series that you have selected), the titles no longer show up in the little window in the upper left corner as you scroll down the list of airdates.  So this feature now is of absolutely no use anymore whatsoever.

 

To make matters worse with this feature is that if you scroll to an item that is listed as having a calendar date say “10/6” as opposed to a day such as “Tuesday”, and you hit select to set that item up for a recording, you will find that not only can you not do it but the box will LOCK UP!  Of course, you can just hit the EXIT key and after 2 or 3 presses you will exit the guide completely meaning you have to start all over again.  I have noticed, however, there are times that the “C: key does the same thing as well.

 

I believe in both cases that these are bugs in the current update and should be addressed immediately.  It is sad that TWC uses many of its markets to test its software before rolling it out nationally.  We subscribers are NOT beta testers.  It is unfortunate that TWC believes that its software doesn’t have any bugs.  Either they are really stupid or just ignorant.  Don’t ever bother calling customer service for any of any issues with the Navigator software as they know nothing and they never offer any real solutions, not even their technical people can help.  Yes, it really is that bad.

 

Hopefully, I will report soon on a new update before I pull out the rest of my hair from my balding head.  I don’t have much left anymore.

Time Warner Cable — Another Step or Two Backward

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It has been nearly 5 months to the day since the last time I wrote about a Time Warner Cable so-called upgrade.

 

On early Tuesday morning of this week at 3am, all our DVRs had started the long process of downloading new software to its boxes.  Unlike past upgrades that lasted approximately 1 hour, this update took a mind-numbing 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete.  This is certainly the longest update time that I have seen since the major upgrade last year, but even that wasn’t even that long.

 

So, now after the upgrade the ODN version is currently at 7.3.0_29.  Your version on your machines may be later or older than this depending where your area is in the upgrade cycle.  I will discuss my experiences with the above mentioned version.

 

The first thing I noticed when turning on half of my boxes after the upgrade was that all of the channels were blocked because apparently these boxes had the rating block enabled of “Not Rated”, “TV-Y”, and “TV-G”.  I did not have these set but somehow they got enabled after the update.

 

After fixing this issue, the next thing that one will notice is the fonts have changed.  The new font appears to be the same style and size font used when the menus and guide are set to their high-definition equivalent.  While it may save some space in the operating system by using the same font, the end result is that on the standard definition screens such as the guide, the font looks way too big and too thin to actually be readable.

 

What is worse about this is that this font makes letters and numbers sometimes run together with the poor spacing that this font has.  Certainly in the guide, titles and descriptions are cut off or require multiple pages to view properly.  Why they changed the font is beyond me when the old font was fairly easy to read except for being white or blue on black.  This newer thinner font is just worse for my old eyes.

 

Next thing is with the guide.  When you set up a recording of a show, the old “REC” is no longer next to the show’s title and is no longer highlighted in red  instead  a set of red dots show up next to the show’s title.  The title is no longer highlighted so it makes it more difficult to tell if a show is set to be recorded or not.  However, the reminder for a show is still shown in purple across the show’s block like it has previously done.  It seems that this was either an oversight or a change for the next upgrade.  Certainly, they are making it more difficult to know what is being recorded,

 

When pressing the guide a second time to exit, there are now 2 columns of how arrange guide channels.  The previous 5 options are still there with the new ones of “Movie Channels”, “Sports Channels”, “Kids Channels”, “News & Info Channels”, and “Latino Channels”.  While these lists seem exhaustive, the latter one only lists 2 channels in my area!  For now it seems that while convenient to have these categories, right now some are just useless in their current format.

 

Nothing has changed when pressing the “A” button on the remote control; however the “B” button has made significant changes.  No longer when pressing the “B” button are you greeted with 3 or 4 options as you were previously.  Gone are the “What’s Hot” and “Genres” options along with the “In-Progress” option if you were watching an On-Demand show on DVR and wanted to continue it on that unit or another in your house.  The only option available now is the search option with the same keyboard layout as previously available.   The biggest change with this option is that as you enter characters it tells you how many things match what you have typed thus far.  Of course, this is inaccurate as just entering one character gives just a small handful of results.  Whether this was used just for internal testing or nor is hard to determine, but like Google search which says it finds millions of matches to your search request, this result number is just an arbitrary number and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

 

The only plus to the search is that little dollar signs “$” show up when a show is a pay-per-view show that requires a purchase.  This is handy to know what not to pick in my searches.

 

The most missed option when pressing the “B” key is the “In Progress” option.  Where it was just a simple one key press is no longer that simple, one must go the On-Demand portal channel and get to that option there.  Inconvenient and undesirable is the way I seen that change.

 

Overall, this new update was one step forward and three steps backward.  The new font looks awful in standard definition.  The search mechanism no longer as good as it was.  The guide has just little dots to indicate what is going to be recorded.  These changes alone make this guy one disappointed customer.  I have not been happy since the new interface was implemented and now it is just getting worse and not better.

 

I am still waiting for that free whole house DVR setup that was promised 4 years ago and I think we are all waiting for cloud DVR recording to save space locally on the units which are severely limited with space anyway.  It is time to get real updates not these previously discussed downgrades.  Once again shame on TWC for a job poorly done.

 

My score:  4

 

Summary:  Too much needs improving at this point.  TWC Navigator has back pedaled a lot of previous features and made things unreadable and just more difficult overall.

 

 

Unlucky 13th Millionaire Season?

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This week premiered the 13th season of the show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

 

Judging from how this season looks, it should be its last.

 

First off, Cedric the Entertainer is out as host.  In a way, this is a plus because he really wasn’t that good on the show anyway.

 

Now enter Terry Crews.  If you have never heard of him, he was a former football player, but he is probably best known as the guy from the Old Spice ads.  He is also a movie and TV actor.

 

Now he can add game show host to that resume, but this is not something he should be proud of.

 

After watching the first 6 episodes (it is being double run locally with 2 ½ hours between the shows), I have realized that this guy is noisy, very loud and noisy at that.  Every time the guy says “Let’s Play Millionaire”, the camera zooms in on him as he yells out that phrase.  Honestly, this gets more than annoying especially after every commercial and every new player is introduced.

 

As far as the game itself goes, gone is the long table from last year that both Cedric and the player stood at.  I expect that it is used as a lunch table again.  Now the contestant and host stand at podiums facing each other.  Even though they look like they would have monitors on them, it appears that either they are not used as such or going to be used later as those.  For now, the questions appear as they always have on a large screen between 2 sections of the audience.  I wish they would go back to the chairs back in the Regis Philbin days but I don’t expect that to happen at all.  As far as the rest of the set goes, it is still the same look that has been there since the show’s inception on network television.

 

The only major change to the show is in the lifelines of the show.  Gone is one of the “Jump the Question” and in its place is a new “+1” lifeline.  This lifeline allows the contestant to bring down to the stage a person that the contestant brought with them.  This is great as long as the person has someone brought somebody with them as some people have no audience member with them.

 

Also gone from the show, are the category names for the first round of questions.  They were sort of stupid and added nothing  to game play value.  To me, this was the only positive change to the show.

 

Now finally, back to Mr. Crews and his wardrobe.  On one recent show, he wore a white shirt that had a red collar and matching red pants.  This looked absolutely horrible unless you are a clown.  I seriously expected him to pull out a big red nose and giant shoes to horrific.

 

The worst thing overall is that this show is being double run in many parts of the country.  Some places are running the episodes back-to-back while others like locally are running them with a break in-between.    Either way, once a day is more than enough of this annoying host.

 

If this show expects to make it to a 14th year, here are my recommendations:

  • Scrap the tired set. It really needs a refreshing.  Certainly with all the money saved by not giving away the million dollars could be used to make a new set.
  • Start a completely new game format. Yes, this is what the game is known for, but it can be tweaked to a completely level.
  • Polish the host to not being annoying. There are certainly plenty of game show hosts that are unemployed who could use the work or return from retirement.  It is time to get somebody who can make this show be like those of game show heyday of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  If you remember those days, you will appreciate what I am saying here.

 

When I wrote this review last year of this show, I complained that the contestants were mostly black players.  This is not the case this year as there has been a fairly good mix of race and sexes of the contestants.  If there was one shining point to this season, this would be it.

 

Last year, I gave the show a score of 5.  My score this year has dropped because of the above mentioned complaints.  This show has much room for improvement since it has taken a couple of steps backward this year.

 

My score: 3

 

 

 

What We Can Learn From Robin WIlliams Death

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It has been about 2 weeks since Robin Williams died.

 

The way he was treated in the media one would think that he was some sort of God.

 

Well, in a way, he was.

 

He was able to do it all.

 

He did comedy, drama, singing, dancing, everything that one could ever imagine and then some.

 

So it was so sad when it was announced that he had died.

 

At first, many people on social media sites thought that it was some sort of hoax.

 

However, that was quickly replaced with the sad fact that it was true.

 

It was almost immediate about the speculation on how he died.

 

However, when it was announced that he committed suicide, questions were raised on the reason or reasons why.

 

What got me angry was when it was released a basic step-by-step way of how he committed suicide.  Certainly this should never have been detailed because it would make some people think it was the “right way” to die.

 

After what seemed like endless celebrities and endless coverage of almost every movie and every show he ever was featured in, social media sites like Twitter was cyberbullying Williams’ daughter.

 

This led to Twitter to making changes to its policies on what can be posted.  Apparently it takes a celebrity death to change its bullying policy after thousands have been bullied by social media sites like Twitter.  However, I heard of no policy changes in Facebook.

 

And just when things started to quiet down, we get news that Williams was suffering early stages of Parkinson’s.  This is the same disease that Michael J. Fox has had for many years and has maintained a fairly good life despite the day-to-day struggles with the disease.

 

Of course this brings up the whole idea that suicide was a path of hopelessness while struggling with the earliest signs of the disease.

 

It seems apparent that Williams could not handle the possibility of not having proper use of his arms, legs, voice, head and all his other vital parts that he uses so prominently in his acts.  More than likely he felt that the disease was more of a death sentence and didn’t want to spend the rest of his life struggling with it.

 

This makes it seem that anybody who has any disease no matter what it is should commit suicide as the only way out is ending it all.  I know that Williams struggled with drugs and alcohol over the years which make me wonder if he was really in his right mind at the time of his suicide.

 

After knowing a couple of people who have committed suicide, I can say first hand that some people do feel a moment of desperation even when there are better answers out there.  It is sad that sometimes these people never reach out for help or sometimes just don’t feel they really need the help.

 

I don’t really consider this a wrong thing, but a stupid one that leaves those that cared about them wondering if they were part of the problem.  Again, I know this first hand and I think about my loss frequently even though it was over 20 years ago.

 

Overall, the world has lost a wonderful talented person with so many movies, TV shows, specials and other endeavors that he did have a very complete life.

 

It is unfortunate that Lauren Bacall who died just a couple of days later barely even got mentioned in the media who had a much longer career and was very popular years ago.  But then again, that is the problem.  She just didn’t connect with people of the current generation as Williams connected with the last 2 or 3 generations.

 

So now the big question that is probably on everybody’s mind at this point is:

What is my favorite Robin Williams’ show, movie, etc.?

 

Well, you may be surprised that it is one that I never saw discussed in any of the tributes of him, but is probably considered one of his least known or liked by the general public.

 

My movie of choice of his is “RV”.  I think this was a very funny movie and I highly recommend it.  It is a quirky movie, but it is a great family movie.

 

Now, Robin can make that road trip forever in his legacy of great shows (and the not so great ones).

 

 

Nick and Disney and the Mostly Bummer Summer Thus Far

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Well, it was bound to happen.

 

Just it wasn’t expected to be this soon however.

 

“Sam & Cat” is officially dead.

 

I wasn’t really surprised that this happened, but given the facts it is pretty easy to understand why.

 

Many of the problems as far as I can tell revolved around actress Jennette McCurdy.  Between the racy lingerie pics to her not showing up for the Kids Choice Awards earlier this year, it was apparent, she was not happy.

 

In the last week or so, she has even written that she is “not a role model” and that she thought the real reason for the show’s cancellation was that she was not happy how adults were portrayed on the show, mostly as stupid people.

 

As if this was really the case that caused the show to be cancelled.

 

I believe that between her costar Arianna Grande’s music career taking off and Jennette’s career otherwise being stagnant, Jennette felt she was going nowhere fast.  While I can understand her pain, it certainly was not a great idea to sabotage the show like she did.

 

My thought is that Jennette wants to get out of working for Nickelodeon once and for all and possibly even out of kids shows as well.

 

So what does she think her future lie?  Here are my ideas (in order from best to worst):

 

  • Bring back her country music career. She has already released one EP last year.  Maybe it is time to get to the studio to start recording again.
  • Get a new show on a non-kid’s network possibly like ABC Family. She really is not standard network material yet.
  • Follow in the career path of people like Lindsay Lohan by doing a Playboy and adult films like “The Canyons”. She has already proven she has a body and likes to show it off so maybe this is what she really wants to inspire to do.  Of course, this only works if she goes on drugs and starts drinking and partying.  Certainly, not the ideal career choice if she wants to have any fans left.

 

Beyond Jennette’s problems, this show was full of problems of having lousy storylines and a couple of stunt castings.  It also had many jokes that would go over the heads of most of their audience only to be appreciated by older viewers.

 

The blame for that lies strictly on creator Dan Schneider, who seems to be in burnout mode as his latest creation of “Henry Danger” was not so great.  It was a lousy superhero movie (it was less than an hour, which I don’t call a movie, by the way) that lacked anything close to being either funny or dangerous.  This show reminded me of the 1960’s Batman series, just not nearly as entertaining and certainly not memorable.  My grade after the premiere episode is a 2.  I will report back later if I feel if it gets better or worse.

 

Speaking of movies, both Disney and Nickelodeon aired lousy movies in the last few weeks.  “Zapped” (Disney)  and “Terry the Tomboy” (Nickelodeon)  were both forgettable movies and both were pretty bad.  Both were 90 minutes of torture and neither was enjoyable.  My score on both is a 3 and I would rather watch anything for 90 minutes than either of these clunkers.

 

All has not been totally bad this summer on the kids show front.

 

There is one shining knight in a sea of junk.

 

And that shining light is “Boy Meets World—The Next Generation”.

 

Oops, that is not the title.  Its real title is “Girl Meets World” and it has joined the Disney Channel lineup.

 

For those people who loved the show in the 1990’s with Cory and Topanga will be happy that they are happily married with 2 kids.  This new series focuses upon their daughter and her best friend and their everyday struggles just like the original series did 20 years ago.  I loved the original and I love this new series as well.  The only downside to this series is that it is running on Disney Channel and may get an early end given that Disney has a policy of cancelling shows when they reach a certain number of episodes regardless of how well the show is doing.

 

My suggestion would be to move this show to its sister station of ABC and put it on Friday nights just like the original show was.  The memories that this placement would create and possibly even last longer than the original.  I highly recommend this show and give it a grade of 9.

 

Overall, we have one more official month of summer and only one winner in a crowded field of wannabes.  This week Nickelodeon is running a new live-action “Odd Family” movie.  My hope is that it is equal to the previous one and not be more summer garbage.

 

My fingers are crossed for a better August. Of course, we always have the fall to look forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half-Year Reflection

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Please note:  This week’s writing is being posted in all my blogs as it is important to all of my published blogs.

 

You may have noticed that there has not been a blog post in any of my blogs for the last couple of weeks.  There are a few reasons for that.

 

Among the most important reasons are the following:

  • Weather plays havoc with my equipment so I remain offline and disconnected when the heat is high.
  • My brain had run out of ideas to write about for a while.
  • I was evaluating the stats to determine the future of my blogs.

 

Certainly anybody who has been reading my blogs recently will realize that I have had a difficult last couple of months.  While I tried to put as much of a positive spin on what was happening around me, it seemed that I failed with that attempt.  I don’t feel that I really did anything wrong, I was just misinterpreted.

 

As I mentioned in the past, I am always open to topic ideas in any of my blogs.  So far, I have received only 1 idea which I plan on discussing in the next month or so.  I am also open to guest bloggers who want to step up and write articles for any of my blogs.  Since this has been a one-person operation, sometimes my quality seems to have waned at times.  If anybody is interested in submitting ideas or wants to be a guest writer, feel free to email me at the address at the right.  Please note that I accept both anonymous and named submissions, if you want the credit for it.

 

My other thing I have been doing is re-evaluating how frequently I post to my blogs.  Usually, my writings have been on Wednesdays allowing me to judge the acceptance on Thursdays.  Lately, it seems that the numbers have been fairly light and the lack of “likes” and comments make me wonder what the public really want and what they don’t.

 

So, effective immediately, I have decided that I will be publishing a lot less in the foreseeable future.  My plan is to update my blogs approximately twice a month per blog.  However, this number could go up or down depending on desire of topics and anything that I come across that I deem to be important to discuss. I also plan on staggering the posting of my blogs so that both are not posted in the same week, but that could change as well. This choice was not easy, but I felt that it was in everybody’s best interest including my own sanity.

 

Overall, I expect that both the “Staples” blog and the “Rants” blog will continue for a long time as long as I take it a little slower.  Hopefully, everyone will agree on that.

 

 

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