Such a Shame to Miss the First Man

It’s a shame that people missed First Man, because they were too busy being pissed about wanting bragging rights as the country that landed on the moon first.  This movie wasn’t about who got there first. Landing on the moon wasn’t kids racing in a school yard. It was so much bigger than that.  It was about humanity, at it’s core. It was about the man, not just the mission.  The movie was personal, and told the story of a man and a mission.  America did land on the moon first, but space exploration is something that has been accomplished by our world and our species. America accomplished that extraordinary feat in the name of our world.
Somewhere along the way, we were entrusted with being the leader of the free world. It wasn’t because that’s what we were. It’s because that was our promise to become.  We were to be a country of immigrants, and slaves who would be freed, and asylum seekers, and refugees, and native born people. We would show how a country of countries would be the example of a free and fair nation. We would be the standard, for the world, as to how people can have individual and collective sovereignty. Each person would be inherently equal.  Their rights would be unencumbered, insofar as no one person’s will would infringe upon the right of another’s.
This movie, brought us up into the atmosphere where the collective reached new heights, yet also brought us into the heart of family, of life and death, of love and sorrow. It brought to bear, bonds of friendship, community, and a collective bond between people who would seek to accomplish a mission bigger than one person. It would be out of many one. E pluribus unum.
Those who dissed this movie, for not bragging, also miss that this story was not the whole story of our collective country, during this moment in time. This idyllic snapshot did not include all of our people, nor all of our bonds. Just as they judged the movie by it’s preview, they also fail to see beyond the myopic view of what we accomplished. We cannot hope to reach our promise, if we do not see all of our past, as it bears on our current challenges. We will never make good on who we pledged to become, if we do not recognize, that the bonds many of our country’s citizens shared during this golden age of discovery, looked very different. Until we can recognize our collective truth, we cannot realize our overall mission. For us to achieve the next big leap for mankind, we must first see all of human kind. It is the bridge we must cross.  We must see each other, and all must be seen.
The paradox of this story, is the notion of what one person is and can be, as well as what people can accomplish in a collective bond. Too many of our country is still busy judging that some people should not form a collective bond, and it is antithetical to our nature as a species. The reasons are never more than superficial. Almost always, they are the color of our skin, skewed and distorted views of another’s beliefs, and they completely miss the point. The bond people can make, has the power and the energy and the fuel to create something more than any single people will ever achieve. The more we can bond together, in commonality and purpose, the more we can be as a whole.

It Wasn’t Meant to Be a Choose Your Own Adventure

I know people are up in arms about the Game of Thrones finale.  I am sure I will be flayed for my opinions.  The thing is, unless you wrote the story, it’s not really up for debate. The idea that people circulated and signed a petition to redo the last season is preposterous.  This isn’t a “Choose Your Own Adventure”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you missed out.  In the 80’s, there were these books that were “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. You would read for so many pages, and then you would get a choice. To choose that the character will do abc, go to page x, to choose that the character will do def, go to page y.

When we watch a big epic show like Game of Thrones, I think it’s a disservice to the 8 seasons, for fans to lament the ending. I think it’s fine to be disappointed in the ending, and I wished it had gone another way, but that doesn’t negate the amazing show we all got to enjoy for 8 seasons.  The cast, crew and creative team deserve more respect than that.  This story was massive, and it had so many intertwined stories, I think it’s arrogant for us to all assume we would have done it better.

With that being said, let me lay out where I thought it was going to go, at least in the abstract. I won’t say it would have been better, just different.

Going into the finale season, it really seemed to me that there was an over-arching theme.  These “children” had created the night king and the army of the dead. They also wanted to undo what they had done.

Centuries later, and we start off seeing these groups of parents and their kids.  The pattern we see is the mistakes the parents make, and their kids trying to do better than their parents.  It seemed to me, that there was a delineation between the kids who learned to do what is right and moral, who sought to do better than their parents, while others sought to repeat their parent’s “sins” and continue/perpetuate their craven and power hungry ways.

So we see that the Starks were good. So was Asha Yara Greyjoy, even if Theon wasn’t. He takes the long road there. So does Jaime Lannister, it seems. That’s the path I thought he was taking, and I didn’t think it was just so he could throw it away at the end to stand by his sister, who hadn’t learned anything. My thought was the council at the end, should have been all the kids who learned the lesson of their parents, and the ones who were gone, would be the ones who didn’t learn that lesson.

Where does that leave Daenerys?  That’s a good question. It really felt like they were going back and forth between having her learn the lessons and then not, and then yes, and then no.  Because she gave that speech about breaking the wheel, it seemed to be that she needed to make good on that. She should have been at the head of that council, and all the kids, now the heads of their homes should have taken a piece of the iron throne, in essence having them break the throne, into 7 equal kingdoms, free from 1 potentially tyrannical ruler.

I know that may sound too nice and sweet, but Arya would still be able to have that Frodo-esque “I can’t just live a normal life, I need to sail off into the unknown” ending. Sansa would still be able to preserve the north as a free kingdom. Asha would be named queen of her kingdom, and so on. There could be major loss, without it being the equivalent of click-bait. A flashy murder, for the shock and awe. Like Missandei. She was a strong character, who had more of a story to tell, and she was sacrificed, so we could have a reason for Dany to lose it. She deserved a better story, and a better ending.

Even Cersei deserved a better ending. She already had that massive walk of shame, so how would you have her executed in a way that would make sense? Let’s say Dany didn’t snap, after the bells rang. Instead maybe Dany just goes to the tower Cersei was in, and has Drogon burn that one, so it starts crumbling around Cersei. Maybe she would still try to escape with the Mountain, and then the Hound gets his revenge on the Mountain.

Instead of her just slipping by like “this seems like an A and B convo, I’ll C my way out…”, she could have been met by Dany and Drogon at the bottom. From there, keeping her alive, would keep the sins of the past alive. She will have to be executed, but is by fire the right way? I think so, in the instance that she would be the last execution that would ever take place at that level. There would be no more top of the 7 kingdoms. King’s Landing would be transformed into a place where the leaders of the 7 kingdoms conducted joint affairs, and the citizens would be from any 1 of the 7 kingdoms.

I get this is all very loose. It’s certainly not a script. I don’t want to disrespect the creators and script writers with trying to attempt that. I’m sure many will find plenty of flaws with what I outline.

It’s just what I was hoping for.  I know I didn’t mention Jon Snow.  By the end I decided he was a pretty boy, who had a good heart, but boy was he dumb. I mean, just not a smart guy. He usually had a blank look on his face, when other characters were discussing complex political issues. I just couldn’t see fit to put him at the top, just because he was good.  I really wanted the ending he got.  Despite his heritage, and despite his upbringing, his heart belonged north of the wall, with the wildings. That’s what fit his character (and his direwolf).

So that’s my alternate ending, but that doesn’t mean I wish they would re-do the season. That’s just silly. I will say this.

It’s infuriating that Lena Headey got online hate, for her portrayal of Cersei.  She did an amazing job in that role, and she deserves praise for how well she played this villain.  The entire cast was fabulous, from the lead characters, to those with smaller parts, like Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), and Rory McCann (The Hound).

The writers, directors, producers, costume designers, set designers, makeup people, etc. They did such an incredible job of putting all these stories together.  By season 3, I had to google a map of all the characters, so I could keep them straight. I think the team that pulled all this off, deserves our gratitude, considering all we had to do was sit on our butts and watch.  It’s easy to sit in judgement of someone else’s work. Doing the work takes a lot more.

Constructive criticism is good, but let’s make sure it that and not just tearing people down, because we like feeling like we should sit in judgement. And anyone who sent crappy mean online comments to any of the cast or crew, owes them an apology. They are people and I doubt you would be so rude to their face, so there is no excuse for doing it online.

Streaming Apps Review

I cut the cord a couple of years ago.  Purchased a couple of Roku’s, and got subscriptions to a few streaming apps.  Those include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and HBO Now.  On my phone, I’ve also gotten a couple of series on Apple’s TV app, so I can download them to watch when I’m offline.

The great part of this is that I pay about $40/ month for my tv services.

  1. Netflix – $9.99/mo
  2. Hulu – $7.99/mo
  3. Amazon – $99/year = $8.25/mo
  4. HBO Now – $16.19/mo

Total =  $42.42/mo

Relying on these services, I’ve come to find the many goods and bads about how these apps work.  For one, they often function differently on the Roku, then they do on mobile devices like iPhones and iPads.  I work in application development, so it baffles me when I see API bugs or a lack of basic functionality, which should be obvious to any developer working on these platforms.

Below, I will break down each app into their good, bad and ugly qualities.  To be fair, I haven’t tested every feature of each service across all devices, but I’ve definitely compiled a love/hate list of features and functionalities for the different streaming apps I’ve come to depend on for tv and movies.  Streaming isn’t going anywhere.  It’s expanding, and it’s becoming an industry trend.  Streaming will only grow and take over traditional cable and satellite services.

Some of my “review” of these services is based on content, some on the content controls. The API or interface, if you will.

Netflix

Good

Most people know why Netflix is good.  They’ve got some great content (I wish Marco Polo had been more popular, because it was visually stunning and a fantastically told story).  They’ve got great controls, good profile management, and seamless auto-play streaming.  I love when they ask me “are you still watching?” aww, Netflix. You’re cute.  Yes, I’m still watching, and no I haven’t showered yet today. Don’t judge me.

Seriously, they have a decent selection of content, some great original content, and their interface is intuitive and friendly. I’m bummed the price went up, but I had a good ride at the $7.99 tier for a long time, so I guess it was inevitable.

Bad

I know when I am on some semi-public wifi’s I can’t get on to Netflix, because they are blocked.  I haven’t tried their newer feature of being able to download content for offline viewing, but I am wondering how that would work, if the app forces a connection in order to launch.  Something to look into, I guess. (For me, you or someone. Anyone? Bueller?)

As I mention below, with Amazon, they don’t have a method to “reset” a season or series, if you want to watch it again.  Someone really should get on that.

Ugly

Not much to say here.  I wish they had some content sooner than right before the next season is coming out, but if that keeps prices down, I can wait.

Hulu

Good
The most obvious leg up, that Hulu has, is their next day availability.  I don’t have to wait until the season is over, or the next season is about to start.  I can see it the next day.  That is fine with me, because I don’t care if I see something live.  Cutting the cord can take some getting use to, but it is incredibly freeing to not feel like you have to stay up late to catch the show, or you’ll miss out.

They also have a good selection of content. I would like to see them fill out a complete contract with FX shows, but they are starting to get their content, so here’s hoping. (add current seasons of AHS and Taboo!, eh?)

Bad

If you are on the Roku app, and you go into movies, you will see a scroll-able list of about 250 movie titles, with poster art.  Start scrolling to the left or right, and if you scroll a page’s worth at a time, at some point it will jump back to the beginning. It’s the most annoying bug, and I can’t believe they haven’t fixed it yet.  I say that, while knowing I haven’t specifically reported it.  That being said, their developers should be testing the front end use, at least enough to have caught a bug like that by now. I’ve had Hulu for over 3 years, and I’ve always known that bug was there.

Ugly

They used to have a formal watch list, where you could intentionally subscribe to a series.  Now whenever you watch one thing, it automatically adds that show/series into your watchlist.  It’s more like a touch list, because it tracks anything you even click on by accident and watch only 1 second of.  My mom comes to visit, and she watches E! content, which I don’t tend to watch.  Now I’ve got her stuff littered in my watch list, and it was never her intent to add that stuff.  I set up a separate profile for her. but apparently it is impossible to allow apps backwards compatibility with “relatively” older tech.

I have a roku LT, which was the first I ever got.  I keep it updated, and use it in my yoga room.  I move it into guest room when she stays.  The app won’t update to the most recent version with profiles, which I believe is a limitation of the version hulu has made compatible with that version of the Roku. I get that versioning between tech and hardware can be messy and difficult to manage, but this is why it gets categorized under ugly.  It’s ugly for the customer. Yeah, that’s me.

Another ugly feature is that when a show is done, we move on to something else, from the Roku.  Whenever we go back, if we didn’t watch all the way through the credits, it still shows as a new episode available.  They used to have a feature where you could remove the episode from your watch list, as an intermediary step from removing an entire series from your watch list.  I don’t know why they stopped including that feature, but I wish they would add that back in.  That, or some way to mark a show as watched, so it doesn’t list as new anymore.  

Amazon

Good

Their mobile app for the iPhone is great.  The play button is in the center of the screen, and away from the progress bar.  This means you won’t accidentally jump to a different position in the program you are watching.  On either side they have jumps to jump forward or backwards 10 seconds.  Not something you’ll use often, but nice to have in an accessible way.

As a bonus, while watching your program, there is a bevy of information available on the screen, that you can click on.  It won’t interrupt your viewing, to see this info, as it’s semi-transparent, and they fit a lot on there.

The obvious info/features there, include the progress bar, and aforementioned play/pause and jump controls.  Also out of the way, but available is a function to send/beam the playback to another device/audio, as well as closed-captioning controls.

The coolest feature, is one that most apps don’t have.  That’s their X-Ray feature.  It shows a listing of the main cast, and you can view more to see the whole cast and crew.  Clicking the “view more” will pause your playback, but sometimes you may want that.  If you click on an cast or crew member, you are taken to their embedded imdb like dossier of that person’s professional work.  Their bio, known for, credits.  It’s pretty great for film and tv enthusiasts who might be watching something and think “Where do I know them from? Oh, that’s right!!!”

Bad

There is one feature that no streaming app seems to have, and it baffles me that no one has come out with it yet.  For many enthusiasts of a tv series, we may re-watch the series at some point.  For a service like Amazon, which has no profile switching, this can become an even trickier thing to manage.  There is no way to reset a season or a series.  Once you watch an episode, the progress is bookmarked to the end, and so you can’t start the series over.

I went onto the Amazon Prime forums, years ago, to look for any way to reset all episodes in a series.  I ended up joining a thread, and despite over 100 posts in 4 years, this feature has not been added.  Either Amazon isn’t scrubbing/sampling or checking their own forum, or they really aren’t that interested in the features their customers want.  I could be wrong about that, but just sayin’.  This is the thread, if you’re curious to see it: “Is there a way to reset a watch list?”

Ugly

Despite their fantastic original programming, like Transparent, Catastrophe,  Goliath, One Mississippi, Mr. Robot, and Betas, they gave up on the incredible Good Girls Revolt after one season.  There must have been a reason that wasn’t made public.  From what I read, they had a good and respectable level of viewership, certainly enough to give it a couple more seasons.

The character depth was great, and they were on the verge of doing what not many shows are even trying to do.  They had women as the primary main cast, and telling the stories of women, when they were fighting for a place in journalism, in the work place, and in the legal system.  Toward the end of the season, they had begun to develop the character of a minority black woman attorney.  Imagine that.  A black woman character, who isn’t a maid, a slave or a servant. What a novel idea.  It was transformative.  It was the telling of hidden figures, and they let it go.  Such a disappointing loss.  They could have pivoted the show to make her the central character, and keep introducing the hidden figures who fought for minority and womens’ rights during the civil rights era of the 60’s and 70’s.

The only other complaint that I have is the odd schedule they have for releasing prime content.  Not everything, on Amazon Prime, comes with the Amazon Prime subscription.  Some of it you have to purchase à la carte.  Sorry to tell Amazon the bad news, but I pay enough in the yearly subscription, and am not likely to pay for single episodes or to buy movies all that often.  I have here and there, but it’s not something I would do on a regular basis.

This means that when I get into a show, I get stuck waiting for the new season to “become” prime.  For instance,  I watched season 1 of Mr Robot, and now I’m stuck waiting for season 2.  I can’t afford to pay for every season of each show I watch.  It’s not a feasible cost structure.  So I have to wait for season 2 to be prime.  This gets somewhat “ugly”, because there is no schedule.  I understand why.  Why would Amazon let us know when they plan to provide this content to their yearly subscribers, for free? Their à la carte sales would plummet.  But for the many of us who will wait it out, it kind of sucks that we see that offering, with only purchase/rent options exist.

Another example, of a show that is not an Amazon Original show, is Vikings.  Great show.  Seasons 1 – 401 are available and free to Prime members.  Season 402 is only available for rent/purchase. I have no idea when it will be made “prime” meaning free to annual subscribers.  I will wait it out, but in the mean time I’m just frustrated that I have to look through the glass window, because my budget is for the Prime membership, not for paying for each episode of each show, which would be a massive expense and luxury. That’s to say, I get that none of this is a necessity, but that is why these type of expenses are discretionary and must be able to be mitigated.  A budget has to be able to be set, and per episode pricing is too much to fit into a realistic budget.

HBO Now

Good
Content, content content.  When I was growing up, we lived in a small town, outside a small city.  The owner of the cable company in our town didn’t believe in music television, so our cable programming didn’t include MTV.  I was seriously under-educated as a result.  My parents, either in defiance of that, or just because they knew what was good, got HBO instead.  I could never thank them enough.  Despite having the shit scared out of me, with the nazi documentaries, I also learned a lot from docudramas like And The Band Played On.  After seeing that, when it first came out in 93, I realized that fighting for transparency, education, funding of AIDS and HIV research was so incredibly important.  The human side was so well portrayed. I based school reports on the subject, because of that film.

I also loved Live From Baghdad, which chronicled the beginning of CNN’s ascent to become the first 24 hr news channel, covering live in the middle of a war.

Now we have some of the best series you can find.  Game of Thrones, Westworld, Big Little Lies, Silicone Valley, the list goes on.  There are so many, now completed series, which were so well done you’d be hard pressed to find any other network on the same level.  They push the envelope in a grand manner, that I just love.

Bad

They don’t have all their original content available all the time, and I don’t understand why.  The aforementioned Live From Baghdad is a perfect example.  This would be an ideal time to have that available! Right now, when our POTUS is attacking journalists and journalism, we must remember why we need them, and the fights they have fought and continue to fight. The risks they take to bring us the news, from around the world.

When you are on the roku app, it doesn’t allow you to auto-play the next episode if you are watching an old season or series.  You have to go into a series, and into a season, and then into an episode and choose to play it.  When it finishes, you have to back out of the episode, go over to the next episode, and go into that one to play it.  Other apps do this better, allowing you to “binge”. Maybe they are just attempting to discourage unhealthy binging habits, but I doubt it.

Ugly

The apps are all seemingly a little different.  the iPhone app vs the iPad vs the Roku.  They all show titles differently.  I like the iPad view with the poster tiles.  I can’t stand the Roku listing of all movies.  It has the movies alphabetized, and you have to scroll through the movies in each letter, one at a time.  So you arrow down to letter B, then scroll right to view all movies that begin with B.  Then you have to go down to each letter (ie C), and scroll over.  It’s not about being intuitive.  It’s intuitive, in that it’s not hard to get how it works.  It’s about being a friendly interface.  Imagine a user doesn’t know what they want to watch.  They are looking for something that will catch their eye.  They may not even know the genre they are in the mood for watching.  Having the ability to view by release year/date could be a nice option.  No matter the sort, one continuous list is definitely easier to scroll through, as opposed to 26 (+ numeric & symbolic prefixed movies) separate lists.

iTunes TV App

Good
I don’t have much to say.  They had the West Wing series at 1/2 the price of Amazon, so I went with them, because I wanted a series I could download and have available to stream when I’m offline.  This works for that, but not much else.

Bad

I don’t have Apple TV.  I looked at it, but it is 50% more expensive than Roku, and Roku is an independent product that won’t push their content or store the way Apple will.

This app didn’t used to be bad. It used to be decent.  But in the last year, they made an update and screwed the pooch.  So West Wing is a great example.  They have all episodes/seasons in 1 long continuous list.  That’s fine.  The title of each episode is there, and you can expand it to see synopsis.  My fury has to do with how the list appears on the iPhone.  You go into the series, and you see 6 episodes. You have to scroll to the right to see another 6 episodes.  Why in all the name of all that is logical did they choose 6? Why not 5, or 7, or 10? I am baffled by this horrendous design.

I can get passed it though, until I try to interact with the list.  I can click a cloud to download an episode to my phone.  Now comes the crappy part of this.  Imagine I want to download 2 or 3 episodes, for a flight or something.  Each time I click the cloud on a episode, I can’t do anything while the download starts.  I can try, but nothing will be successful. I’ll know when it does start, though.  Want to know how? Because I get jumped back to the beginning of the damn list. EVERY. DAMN. TIME.  I can’t just click the episodes, click, click, click that I want.  I have to start a download, get jumped back to the beginning of the series, scroll back to where I was, start another download, get jumped back to the beginning, rinse and repeat.  The same thing happens when you want to remove a download from your phone.  It’s not intuitive at all.  You have to press down on the episode, and then another window pops up, with a trash, and then you can remove it.  You can guess what happens after you do that.  The screen freezes and then jumps you to the beginning of the list again! AHHHHHHH!!!!! Find a freaking bookmark, will you?

It also doesn’t auto-play to the next episode, if you have it downloaded or are on wifi that can handle streaming one in the cloud.  Either way, too bad. You have to go in and out of each episode, like you are shopping in a mall in 1992.

Ugly
See the bad, above.  I almost wish I hadn’t made the purchases I did, for use in this app, because of those issues.  I hope they fix the app soon. It sucks to make that kind of purchase and then have the delivery method made into a horrible user experience.

My Favorite Current Shows

I wanted to get this blog going, but couldn’t decide what to review first.  Favorite movies? Something new, that I’ve seen?  I decided to go with my top list of current shows that I love, why and why you should give them a solid try.

To preface this, I am a cord cutter.  I had Time Warner.  Then I went to DirectTV, hoping to save money.  After having to contact them every month, to insist they correct a bill where they started to try to charge me more, I cancelled that too.  I bought a roku, and I now enjoy streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO.  HBO is really expensive, but their programming is too good to pass up.

Anyway, with all of that out of the way, the following are the best shows that I am currently all over, and why I love them.

  1. Game of Thrones – Of course.  I mean, it’s so well done.  The many story lines, the casting, the sets, the costumes.  It’s raw and powerful.  The violence towards women has received criticism.  I have criticism for those critics.  Violence has always happened towards women.  We must have it in film and tv, if we are to truly represent a woman’s reality. They would be violently raped and beaten.  It’s reality of a timeline, like the one in this story.  Not showing that brutality, would be cowardly and dishonest.  I’ve never taken HBO for being a coward, and I don’t now.  They did the brave thing, and showed the reality.  It might be hard for you to watch.  I promise, it’s harder for women who experience it, and we need that portrayed, so that we can all acknowledge it.
  2.  Peaky Blinders – I would have made this #1, but had to give it up for Game of Thrones, because of the grand scale of what they are doing. It is pretty massive.Peaky Blinders stars the insanely talented Cillian Murphy. If you aren’t familiar with his work, I highly recommend “Breakfast on Pluto“. Another incredible talent on the show is Helen McCrory.  I am more and more convinced every day, that this woman is well overdue for some awards.

    The show is set in Birmingham, in the outskirts of England, during the American prohibition era.  It follows the lives and tales of a family running the gypsy mob.  I will say, that you need to get through the first episode, and into the second, before you will likely get hooked.  There is a bit of laying out the scene, the players, etc that takes place in that first episode.

    Disclaimer: This has a lot of violence, which may make some uncomfortable.  I think it is still worth the watch, because that kind of violence was the reality at that time, and in that world.  We are so uncomfortable with violence, we want to pretend it doesn’t exist.  It does, whether you acknowledge it or not.  Film and tv, acting, are representations of our lives.  Artistic representations, but representations nonetheless.  If they leave out the violence, they won’t represent our realities very well, will they?

    This show is so addicting, you will be binge watching it, and wishing there were more episodes on right now.  You will also want to go have a drink in a pub.

  3. Orphan Black – Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany. My god the talent.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The filming crew works to splice her into each scene, meaning she does each scene multiplied by the amount of clones are in that scene.  I have often caught myself forgetting that all these characters are here.  Well, most of them.  There is an incredible supporting cast too.But it’s not just the effectiveness of how this show has executed this concept, which sold me.  It’s the different angles they bought to the story.  We’ve seen many attempts at telling a story on cloning.  But this one looks at the science, the religion, the industry (corporate control and greed).  This also ensures we don’t lose sight of the most important angle – family.
  4. The Crown – This is a new Netflix show, and it has caught my eye, for multiple reasons.  The lead actress, Claire Foy, is captivating.  John Lithgow is transformative as Churchill.  Seriously, he better get a nomination, if not an award thrown at him.  Maybe not thrown.  It can be handed.  The sets and costumes are impressive.  The story telling reeks of nostalgia, which fits so well.  I really feel like I’m getting a glimpse into this untold story of the current Queen.  A story of responsibility and obligation, that was placed on her shoulders at a very young age.I am constantly wishing there were more episodes, and that the next season would get here already.
  5. Good Girls Revolt – There couldn’t be a better time for this show to be on.  Showing women standing up to men, in a country that just elected a pussy grabber, as President.  I don’t know what possessed Amazon to not order a 2nd season, and I really hope Netflix, Hulu, or some smart network picks up this show.Yes, Anna Camp is flawless.  There are a bunch of new actress, who stand out as well.  Erin Darke is the biggest stand out.  Her role was demanding, and she really brought it home with gusto.  I saw a critique that this show is trying to be like Mad Men, but doesn’t really get there.  I totally disagree.  This is the Mad Men from the womens’ pov.  That’s why I also love Genevieve Angelson, who plays the character we probably wish we had been, if we had lived back then.  Idealistic and wanting to be woke.  Wanting to be part of the change.

    Chris Diamantopoulos is also a great part of the cast. He is the Mad Men boy, in epic fashion. “I’m a dapper son of a bitch.”

    This show has great character development, and is really going somewhere.  It’s an insult to Amazon viewers, to cancel after one season, especially with the cliff hanger we were left with.  For a streaming service, producing content is probably an uphill challenge.  I would add another challenge.  Don’t commit to a series, unless you will commit to at least 2 seasons.  Give it a chance to catch on.  For this show, I’m not sure what would be stopping you.  It got a lot of viewers, and raves from critics.

    There must be something else behind the cancellation, but it still stinks.

  6. Speechless  – Yes, we all love Mini Driver.  She is a big draw, for people to check out the show.  Once you start watching, you’ll be saying “Hey, isn’t that guy on Big Bang Theory.”  You’ll end up loving his character on this show.  The kid who plays JJ is fantastic.  The three kids each shine in their own right, but this is afterall about a mom championing her kid with a disability.This show strives to make us all see what it really means to have a disability.  It’s not what you think.  It’s not about the disability.  It’s about the exclusion from the rest of society.  It’s about being treated as different, or special, but not because of you.  Because of your disability.

    I really like how this show is trying to teach us all how to treat people with different types of disabilities, with equality, compassion, inclusion, and respect.  I mean, that’s what we all want, so why treat someone with a disability differently?

    Beyond that profound message, the show is hilarious.  I literally laugh out loud constantly.

There are too many good shows, to add a why for every one.  For now, I will list the “honorable mentions”, for shows that I am also currently hooked on.  They are as follows, in the random order that they pop into my head:

One Mississippi (Amazon), Transparent (Amazon), Catastrophe (Amazon), Stranger Things (Netflix), The Good Place (NBC), Westworld (HBO), Goldbergs (Fox), and Sherlock Holmes (BBC).

There are probably others that I am forgetting, but i definitely recommend these great shows, if you aren’t already hooked.

What’s Gained is Lost, What’s Lost is Gained

So a couple of weeks ago, I went to a conference and gained 5 lbs.  Last week, I stayed on track like a champ, and lost 7 lbs.  Great comeback, if I do say so myself.  I mentioned that my ultra fit friend has told me about going on vacation and gaining 5 lbs.  She also has told me that she will lose it the next week.  It’s so great to accomplish this myself.  It’s a huge confidence builder that I can have a “vacation week”, where I may not be perfect, and bounce back.

Some may or may not know that I have been here before.  I did Weight Watchers a few years ago.  After losing 85 lbs, I started to get sick all the time and fell off the tracks.  The reaction seemed to be that it was all in my head.  I was getting lazy.  I knew something else was going on.  After fighting with my doctors (and finding new ones), I finally got some answers.  Raynaud’s, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Non-Complete Lupus.  Those are the big ones.  Big and small, I have a bunch of autoimmune issues which drag me down and tire me out.  Not knowing that something was causing this, made me very frustrated.  I finally moved forward, and knowing what can hold me back has allowed me to face it head on and not let it stop me.  Now if I fall, I know why I did, and I will get right back up.

This weekend was no exception to getting things done.  Friday I went out and spec’d a new hybrid bike.  I need one for the Tour de Cure in June.

 (please see my site to sponsor me!! http://main.diabetes.org/goto/grandgirl ).  

After that, I wanted a drink, so I met up with some friends, had some wine and dinner.  Saturday, I picked up my bike, and then took it for a quick ride.  Had to test it out!  After that, I picked up my nephew to celebrate his 5th birthday.  It was a few months ago, but I had totally forgotten that his older sister got a special day, when she turned 5.  With 2 nieces and a nephew, everything has to be equal!  I had seen the forecast that it was going to rain,

so I took him to the new Lego store at the mall, 
and to Build a Bear.  
That place is so cute!  It is totally hands on, and I think the prices are very reasonable.

We went to see the Lorax, and I was impressed that the little man was able to sit through the whole thing.  He did start getting concerned towards the end of the movie.  I had let him know we would go to Red Robin for dinner (his favorite place), and he was getting anxious that it would close if we didn’t get there in time.

I reassured him that it was only 4:30 and that they would be open well past his bedtime.

As for Red Robin, I really appreciate that they have an iPhone app, which lets you customize your meal.   You can trade stuff in and out, and then see the nutritional content.  Of course, when you do that, you find that even their salads can contain over 60 grams of fat.  I am not kidding!  I ended up getting the bruschetta chicken sandwich, but with lettuce for the bun.  I also had the quick thinking to confirm if that came with fries.  It wasn’t obvious on the menu, and the app doesn’t account for them.  It did, so I asked for steamed broccoli instead.

Way to rock the healthy choice!

That’s what my friends in the WW community would say lol.  For those interested, that meal is 12 pp.  I know!  Good luck finding something healthy there. If you do, I would totally be interested in low point meals there.  My nephew loves that place!

When we got back to my place (little man was spending the night.  Sleeping bag and all), we watched some of Star Wars I:  Phantom Menace.  He wanted to bring it with him.  Of course, by 7:30 he asked “I’m tired, can I go to bed now?”  Not used to kids wanting to go to bed.  More fighting it.  Of course he did skip his afternoon nap.

The next morning was my weigh-in day, so once my nephew woke me up I had to weigh in.  Psyched with my loss, I knew the day would be a productive one.  It usually is when I have a loss.

We went to a nice diner for breakfast, and then I brought him home.  

We played a game of war and then I played Just Dance with my nieces.

After that I made a lofty to-do list.
And since then, it has just kept growing!

I added the fun time I spent with my nieces and nephew, because then I could check some stuff off and it was just fun to make those something that was a priority in the day.

Digging into my list, I wanted to get back to working on my stairs.  A few months ago I took the carpet up from my stairs, in my house.  There are nice hardwoods, but they need significant clean up.

 This is what they look like right now.
This is the sanding that I got done on 1/2 the stairs on Sunday.

That night, I also made a new recipe, which I found on Weight Watchers.  It was a recipe for Fish and Curry.  I customized that one to put Chicken instead of fish, add more veggies, and substitute some of the ingredients.  Mine is Chicken and Vegetable Curry.
Check the finished product!

I feel like my version is missing something.  Not sure if the coconut milk is the difference.  It is still good and I have been having it for lunch this week.  My house wreaked of curry! Good thing I like that smell.  Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be taking over my cube, at work.  At least no one has said anything…

As I finished items on my list, I kept adding more, in my head.  One of those is that I have been wanting to clear the weeds out of my back yard for a long time (since I got the house).  Just like last year, every weekend seems to call for rain.  I think this weekend, I will have to suck it up and do what I can.  I know how nice my yard will look when the weeds are cleared out.

This week has been one glitch after another, and I am just pacing myself to get through to the weekend.  Saturday, I am volunteering for a highway pickup with my firm.  On the 29th I am running my first 5K, and really excited.  Beyond that, I have the tour de cure (please sponsor me!  My Sponsor Page!!! ).  I am trying to figure out how to fit in training for the 40 miles, which is my goal.  I know I need to train for this big of a commitment.  I work out at the gym Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and now Friday.  I used to work out on Saturdays, but if I switch that to Friday, I thinking Saturday can be more open for that bike ride, yard work, taking on the world etc.

Today I have been channeling the lessons that alcoholics have to practice.  One day at a time.  I don’t know much of any other way to live our lives, whether we struggle from addition or not.  Getting ahead of ourselves will inevitably lead to a crash and burn scenario.  I came home, got some work done, packed my gym bag for the morning, did my dishes, packed my breakfast and lunch, caught up on emails, and got this blog done.  All-in-all, I focused on today and now, and just focused what was in my control.  Now I feel better about now, and the rest of the week.  I am getting excited for the weekend and all the things I can work on.  My yard, as long as the sun is out.  My stairs, if it rains.  Anything I can get my hands on!

Tonight, I was catching up on my DVR, watching Glee.  I heard the greatest line.  Mercedes was talking about her dream to go to LA and her fears that she wouldn’t make it.  She said “I might be cream here, but what if out there, I’m skim milk?” Later Sam had posted her performance on Youtube and wanted to show her all the positive comments.  He said…

“You ain’t no skim milk, baby.  You cream rising to the top.”

Full Cup A Brewin’

[Spoiler alert warning –  this post contains a spoiler for the movie Crazy Stupid Love]

Stats for today are definitely low: Jillian Micheal’s Shred It Kettle bell workout.  29 min – 215 cal.

It’s a great workout, but I slept in, so I don’t have time to go for a run or to do some yard work.  It was a new thing to try, which was good.

My mom is in for the weekend, so that we can celebrate our birthdays together.  Her’s is on 3/21 and mine is on 4/4.  Exactly 2 weeks apart.  When I was growing up, we always went to the Ichiban Japanese Steak House, in Syracuse, NY for every persons’ birthday.  That would be my mom, dad, brother and myself.  It was a tradition.  After my parents divorced, my mom and I kept up our tradition.  Since our birthdays are so close, we go in the weekend in between.

After I finished college, we started meeting at Turning Stone.  We would get a free room, play bingo, play some slots, and go to Syracuse for Ichiban. Their salad dressing is so yummy!

Last year, I took her to Vegas, for her 65th.  Not exactly Ichiban, but we had a good time. I took her to a Japanese steak house, at MGM.  It ended up to be really foo-foo but the sushi appetizer was great.  We also saw Whoopi Goldberg, which was bucket list worthy.

This year, we met at Turning Stone.  Alas, we did not come back with gobs of money, but we had a good time.  In way of WW notes, they have a fantastic greek salad in their food court.  I added grilled chicken. Said “Woah!” to the lady about to put a cup of feta on the salad (not kidding), and told her to use less.  Got the dressing on the side.

While playing slots I stuck to diet soda and decaf coffee.  Totally could have chosen water a bit more!  Went to their diner in the morning and got an egg white omelet, no butter on the grill, packed with veggies, turkey and some swiss.  Didn’t finish it.  I love not finishing food.

Came back to Rochester and ordered takeout from Sinbad’s for dinner.  Awesome Mediterranean in the area, and probably one of my favorite cuisines.  We watched Crazy Stupid Love.  My mom said she thought it was deeper than she had expected it to be from the previews.  I enjoyed the twist that Hannah was his daughter.  I hated Ryan Gosling’s accent.  It wasn’t consistent and it wasn’t necessary.  I would have liked more development of Juliane Moore’s character.  I also thought that the antics of their son were a bit far fetched.  No way a kid goes up in front of classmates and parents, and says to his babysitter, sorry you walked in on me yanking it.  I mean, come on.  I know people want to think their families are that interesting and colorful, but let’s not encourage stupidity.  Even if it is in the title.

So today we are going to hit the public market.  Rochester has an awesome one.  Tonight we are going with friends to Magnolia’s, which is another fantastic place to eat in Rochester.  They have incredible paninis, wraps, and a to die for tomato artichoke soup.  Oh I will be getting it!

Then we are going to the Geva theater to see Angels in America.  I saw the mini series on HBO and it was incredible.  About a month ago, I was in a Starbucks, getting my lean protein post-workout skinny latte reward.  I looked over at the bulletin board and saw a poster for the show.  In about 2 seconds I was sending a pic to my friend, telling her “I know what I want to do for my birthday!”

In other news, my mom got me a heating pad, the dvd of the Help and of All That Jazz.  So cool! (and warm as the heating pad goes lol)  I got her a $50 gift card to the Michael Spa Salon in her home town.  She was excited, because she can use it for a deep tissue massage.

Well, that’s all for now! I gotta go make the coffee and breakfast for mom and me.  My cup runneth over.