Favorite TV Shows and Why

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Most of the shows I watch are shows I like that I own (DVDs) or streaming shows. Some of it is because of the limited number of western shows on Japanese TV; some shows are Japanese shows that English speaking audiences probably haven’t heard of; some of it is frankly, time. I can’t watch TV everyday between work and family. I’d rather read or write in the down time I have. So shows tend to be binge-watch affairs on vacations (or home with a cold). Most are SF or mysteries. I’ve recently started watching Killjoys, which I enjoy.  And Orphan Black is now fully available on worldwide Netflix so I can watch the run. And I have to watch The Crown so my mother and I can compare historical notes. 

So, I decided to write this post about shows (other than Star Trek) that I have binge-watched over and over through the years because they are special to me. When I’m feeling depressed or sick with the flu, these are the shows that are my tv medicine. 

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I love Blake’s 7. I don’t think there is a version available for US region; but I have a multi-season DVD and its not hard to find online anyway. Blake’s 7 follows freedom fighter Roj Blake and his fight against the Federation. He is arrested, sent to a prison planet, but gains a crew of  criminals-who commandeer an alien ship known as the Liberator. His crew includes computer expert Kerr Avon, professional thief Villa Restal, strongman Olag Gan, pirate captain Jenna Stannis, the ship’s AI Zen. Later on we get Cally, a telepath the series we get Orac, a brilliant computer mind. In later seasons we have new crew members Tarrant, Dayna, and Soolin. And their adversary Servalan. It’s about political system, oppression, freedom, independence, social control etc. All those juicy political themes. And it doesn’t try to be optimistic either. I have watched the whole series several times and I purchased many of the audio shows via Big Finish Audio. 

Peaky Blinders. Thomas Shelby is a bad man. The Peaky Blinders are bad people. But I can’t help watching every episode of that show. Set in Birmingham after WWI it’s just fantastic. The only gangster show I ever really found interesting.  And there’s going to be a SERIES 5!!!! On a gathering storm comes/ a tall handsome man/In a dusty black coat with/ a red right hand…..

X-Files. The X-files was one of the first shows outside of Star Trek that I was really a fan of. I watched it faithfully from episode one’s broadcast until the end. Even after Scully and Mulder were gone.  I even watched the Lone Gunmen spin-off and Millennium. Even after the weird second movie. And I have watched X-files 2018. X-files is just a part of my life at this point, and I have to accept it. 

Alien Nation. I go through bouts where I have to watch Alien Nation again. I have to sit through Buck’ growing pains and George’s pregnancy and Sikes and Cathy’s relationship. It’s still a good show, that I always enjoy and I’ve discussed it before.

Are you Being Served? This is a comedy classic. Set in the fictional Grace Brothers Department store. I started watching this show late at nights on public broadcasting. ( Along with Fawlty Towers) There are a few episodes I’ve missed, but I’ve seen all the most popular ones down through the years. We didn’t have cable.( My father felt that television was not worth paying for.) Mrs. Slocombe. Ms. Brahms, Mr. Humphries, Captain Peacock, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Rumbold, Young Mister Grace. 

Mr. Humphries are you free?

Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. Basically, political satire and it is brilliant. With a rather small cast, and never big sets, the dialogue alone is masterful. Hacker, and MP who later becomes Prime Minister and Sir Humphrey Appleby, his permanent secretary. There aren’t many episodes, but they are well worth it. 

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Books I Want Youth To Discover

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I’m joining this week’s blog hosted by  Long and Short Reviews.

I’ll start with the classics.

The first mystery books I ever read were in elementary school. The Westing Game and Harriet the Spy. The Westing Game was a difficult mystery when I was so young and I loved the feel of solving it at the end-and reading it all myself. Harriet the Spy became my idol…I did a lot of spying on my grandmother’s neighbors when things got slow during my summer visits. The next book that had a big impact on me as a young reader was Island of the Blue Dolphins. I loved the adventure and survival themes, but also it sparked a love of history and studying culture. I have loved that book for years.

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The next two books I read as an adult, but they are actually for younger readers. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is a middle grade book and really, really good. I read it as part of a workshop and was struck by how vivid the writing was and how well it handled  themes ranging from disabilities, to bullying, to exclusion. A very powerful book that all youth should read-and adults to.

The other is The Hate U Give. I haven’t seen the movie (yet) but the book is a must read. It takes the contentious issue of race and police and gives it layers and perspectives that you never get from news or politics. The reason fiction is so powerful is because it can take those issues we want to see as either/or and show that life is actually much more complex than that.

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Truthfully, I think youth should discover the books that they like. I don’t believe in telling people ‘books you must read’ or behaving as if someone’s genre choices are superior to others. Books are personal and the ‘best’ books are the one’s that are ‘best’ for you.

 

 

 

Books I discovered on Social Media

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Once again, I’m joining the weekly blog challenge at Long and Short Reviews. Check out some of the other authors too.

Most of my books buying comes from social media. I don’t have the luxury of book stores with lots of English language titles and I was an early fan of the e-reader. I still have my first Amazon kindle; I now use kindle for my iPad. I decided to talk about two authors whose books that I discovered in my early years of indie reading from social media.

R. Lee Smith writes futuristic/SF/alien romances that are truly unique. For starters, her aliens are really alien. Insectoid, reptilian, night creatures. Despite this, R. Lee Smith manages to give them real depth and character. She writes books about telepaths and zombies too. I was captivated by the books because they were so different and not the sort of thing I’d even read from a mainstream publishing house.

https://rleesmith.wordpress.com

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Pepper Pace writes multicultural, IR, contemporary romances. There are always challenges for romance books with black female leads in mainstream publishing, but a lot of writers seem to have really thrived in indie and e-pub. Pepper Pace stood out to me because her characters are unconventional-homeless people, survivors of the Rwandan genocide; people living with disabilities.  And she tackles also of issues most wouldn’t in a romance. And she tends to have working class characters too (rather than lawyers, billionaires etc. etc. )

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I know there are lots of negatives about social media, but it does make it easier to find and connect with other people that you never would have had much chance to. As a writer, I sold my first M/M romance mainly because of a Goodreads Group and a beta reader that I still exchange with. And though I know some people criticize indie and self-pub-definitely garbage out there-there is also the chance to find unique stories that would never be available from a large press.  As both a reader and a writer, social media has been a plus.

SF Obscure Movie: Krull

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Krull is a 1983 British-American science fiction and fantasy film starring Ken Marshall (who played Eddington on DS9. Eddington was an excellent returning character) and Lysette Anthony. It’s a cult favorite-and I understand why because it is entertaining despite not really making any sense if you think too deeply about it.

It starts with Princess Lyssa who is to be married to Prince Colwyn as part of an alliance to unite their two kingdoms to defeat the Beast. The Beast has conquered lots of worlds with his army and teleporting Black Fortress. Princess Lyssa had the most enormous hair I have ever seen on a human character. Prince Colwyn has the tightest pants I’ve seen on anyone expected to do that much running in a movie.

Anyhow, the Beast and his army attack during the wedding ceremony. Lyssa is kidnapped. Everyone else is killed except for Colwyn and an old healer/wiseman named Ynyr.

Ynyr tells Colwyn he must get a five pointed throwing weapon called the Glaive which can destroy the beast. Colwyn retrieves the Glaive and is determined to save Princess Lyssa. On the way they gather some companions: A wizard named Ergo; a group of bandits who decided to follow Colwyn (Liam Neeson?!) ; and a cyclops named Rell. Rell is the remnant of a race who made some sort of deal with the Beast and were cursed to be cyclops. Rell was one of my favorite characters, even with the questionable budget costuming.

There are screenshots of Lyssa and her hair, and a giant eye. Oh, and they have to visit the Emerald Seer to tell them how to find the Black Fortress to kill the beast; but the beast’s hand magically rises up to crush their magic crystal (I think that’s what happened).  Then they go to the lair of the Crystal Spider where an enchantress, Ynyr’s old lover, is exiled. She has a magic hourglass that keeps her alive and tells them how to find the Black Fortress.  They find out the Black Fortress and go to rescue Lyssa and kill the beast.  The beast is wounded by the Glaive, but doesn’t die until Lyssa and Colwyn finish their wedding ceremony. Their combined love ( I guess??) gives them the power they need to really kill the Beast.

Like I said, Krull is enjoyable if you don’t think too hard. You have to accept the basic premise that invading aliens capable of interstellar travel are somehow incapable of traveling around on land by any means other than horseback. You have to accept the people put up a decent fight with swords against alien technology and laser weapons. It’s meant to be a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. And it does have its moments despite these shortcomings. On my B-grade movie list, I put it above Flash Gordon. A little goofier than Battle Beyond the Stars, but the pacing is better and the actors get into their roles for the most part.

Characters I Never Want to Meet

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Once again, I’m joining the weekly blog challenge at Long and Short Reviews. Check out some of the other authors too.

The Wicked Witch of the West: I know this sounds a little strange but this was the first character that really frightened me. Even though the movie was an old classic by the time I was a child, I have distinct memories of how much the witch’s laugh and her army of flying monkeys gave me nightmares. I can deal with it now-of course-but I can’t forget that childhood thrill /fear factor of the original Wicked Witch of the West.

Kai Winn: There are all kinds of villains and foes in the Star Trek universe, but Kai Winn is the worst. She pretends to be your friend, but undercuts you at every turn. She’s so convinced of her own self-righteous that nothing matters. She never kills anyone herself but doesn’t seem concerned about the result of her actions. Louise Fletcher did an outstanding job in that role and one of the many reasons it’s one of my favorite Treks.

Pennywise: From Stephen King’s It. Clowns have always frightened me, and this only made it worse.

Euron Greyjoy: GoT is full of people you’d never want to meet but I’ll only talk about one. I loathe Euron Greyjoy. He’s vile, disgusting, creepy, and he looks like he never bathes and smells like fish. The only person worst than him (still alive as of this season) is Cersei herself.

This was a tough topic for me, because even when villains are awful, if the writer writes it well, or the actor shines in the role, I want to meet them.

And a little note:
My novella RAW MATERIALS is featured in this weeks Author Shout Cover Wars. I’d really like some votes. Voting lasts for one week, and you can vote once a day.
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Comfort Food

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Once again, I’m  joining the weekly blog challenge at Long and Short Reviews. Check out some of the other authors too. This week’s topic: Favorite Comfort Foods and Why.

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Comfort food is a dangerous one for me, because the truth is I should probably take less comfort in food, and more comfort in exercise. That being said, there are a few items on my comfort food list.

Macaroni and Cheese: The main reason this is a comfort food is because it’s not all that common in Japan. I have to make it myself and cheddar cheese can actually be rather expensive. It’s cheaper lately, thanks to Australian imports, but not as common. Whenever I  visit family in the US I eat macaroni and cheese almost every day. It’s filling and satisfying; plus even though it’s a side, it works for me as a main meal with a salad. Three cheers for macaroni and cheese.

Grits: I miss grits. I grew up in the Southern US, so I ate them fairly religiously. I never thought much about liking or not liking it because, well, in the south you get grits for breakfast or you go hungry. I wouldn’t mind some at the moment though.

Deep fried octopus: I never thought it would become a favorite, but there it is. Octopus, squid, and eel are common in Asian food dishes and in all honesty, I really like octopus. Oh well.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: The world’s best cookies. I struggle between regular chocolate chip and oatmeal chocolate, though I seem to have more cooking successes with oatmeal chocolate chip. I have yet to achieve the perfect cookie-I still fiddle around with the flour/baking soda ratio. If anyone has tips, please leave them in the comments.

White Castle Cheeseburgers: My dad used to take me to pick up an order of White Castle cheeseburgers with him when I was young. (Guess my age!)  My mother wasn’t a fan, but Dad let me ride beside him in the passenger seat. It was a daddy-daughter outing only as my mother didn’t much like them. If I was good, he’d sneak me a few Nutter Butter peanut butter sandwich cookies while we went to get White Castle cheeseburgers.  I haven’t had one in decades, likely, but I mainly think of them when I think of my dad.    ( Are Nutter Butters still around?)

Rice Krispie Treats: are awesome!!!!!!! So, I have a friend, a Japanese woman whom I work with. One day, we decided to take our kids out to the park and bring some snacks. I made Rice Krispie treats. She took one look at them and squealed with joy. I was so shocked. She later told me she’d live in America for two years when she was in elementary school and one of her favorite memories of American life was Rice Krispie Treats. Like I said, Rice Krispie Treats are awesome.

 

According to Melora Pazlar, “there’s nothing worse than half-dead racht”. (DS9: “Melora“)

 

Favorite Podcasts (& YouTube)

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Once again, I’m joining the weekly blog challenge at Long and Short Reviews. Check out some of the other authors too.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I have a rather long list.  Admittedly, it’s heavy on the SF/Fantasy.

Blake’s 7 in Character: I’m a fan of the classic British SF Series Blake’s 7. There are a few podcasts that cover the show, but this is my current favorite. It includes lots of background information on guest actors and the reflections on the episodes. It’s best for people who have seen the full series.

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/blakes-7-in/belkov-duYahrxleML/

 

Relic Radio: vintage radio shows available in public domain. My personal favorite is Science Fiction, but they also have mysteries, thrillers, comedies. A neat window into history too.

https://www.relicradio.com/otr/

 

Coverville: Cover versions of famous songs. It’s one of my favorites.

http://coverville.com

Mission Log: Covers Star Trek episode by episode including the movies. They’ve done Classic Trek, TNG, and are now on Deep Space Nine. And the have separate feed for Discovery discussions.

http://www.missionlogpodcast.com

 

TheTime Vault: This covers a lot of classic British SF. Most of the episodes cover Doctor Who, but they’ve also reviewed all the episodes of  Blake’s 7 and Star Cops. They’ve started covering Sapphire and Steel.

https://thetimevault.wordpress.com

Khaleesi’s Clues: I am a Game of Thrones fan, and there are a lot of GOT youtube channels. Khalessi’s Clues is hosted by a fan of both the books and the TV series; very knowledgeable and explains her theories. Whether you agree with her or not, I always enjoy her detailed updates.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCikKLq61_otVHRgfzAlRf5w

*I also write romance books. I don’t promo myself much, but feel free to check out my

website.

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Characters I’d Want to Meet

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Once again, I’d joining the weekly blog challenge at Long and Short Reviews. Check out some of the other authors too.

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I used to fantasize being on an episode of Midsomer Murders. I have a slight addiction to British crime dramas. I’ve spent far too many hours of my life watching and reading them. So if I were to meet fictional characters I’d want to meet some of the fictional detectives.

My journey would start in the fictional district of Midsomer where I would stumble across a murder whilst trekking in the country side. Because this is a Midsomer episode, it would be a clean murder-shooting, strangling, stabbing-but thankfully no serial killers. Those crimes happen on different shows. Then, several local people and local visitors would be questioned until the crime was all related to an argument over inheritance; a marital dispute that took place years ago; some obscure historical find; or a long lost relative. After that is solved, I’d go spent a few days in Oxford.

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In Oxford I would help Inspector Morse solve a case using my knowledge of Latin, Greek, or obscure mythological references. Once again I wouldn’t have to witness any truly gruesome killings, because those would only be referred to offscreen. Plus, it was probably committed by an academic and involved poisoning. I’d get a bit weary of Morse’s drinking and opera, but at least Lewis would be there. I’d probably stick around for a week or so to help Lewis solve a case, and time travel a few years forward so I can help him and DS Hathaway solve a crime.

Since, I have a time machine I should probably make use of it. A cozy mystery case with Father Brown; an intense war time crime with Detective Foyle; or even a further back to consult Miss Marple to do lots of sitting and knitting until we find the killer.

Finally, I’d come back to the present and work on a case with Inspector Vera Stanhope. She has a prickly personality but so do I so I can hold my own.

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So, that’s my big adventure in fictional meetings. How about you?

A Day in My Life

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I’m participating in the weekly blogging challenge at Long and Short Reviews.

I can’t say my days are terribly exciting. Go to work.  Laundry. Cooking. Laundry. Cleaning. Laundry. I hate laundry.  I don’t have a job where I can guarantee writing in the mornings or evenings. If freelance work is hectic, the only time I can dedicate to writing are stray thoughts in a notebook I keep with me constantly. But every now and then, I get to schedule writing days…particularly it I am working on the second draft-the edits and rewrites-which is the most difficult. (And my current struggle.)

Everyday is a reading day!!! I don’t know what I’d do without books.

But what I try to do everyday is make sure I get a chance to appreciate the outdoors.

It’s essential for me to get some physical exercise. I used to be really poor at this. I’d tell myself it was too much  trouble to go to the swimming pool; too much traffic to drive to the gym-any excuse. But I have learned that it is vital to move my body. I have to make sure my muscles are strong. I can sleep better and write better when my body is in shape.

I am a big fan of short hikes. I am fortunate to live in a place with lots of nature that has several parks and a small mountain right behind my house. There are several marked courses I can take-the shortest about 30 minutes, the longest about 2 hours- at a steady pace. So, I thought I’d share a few pictures. If I want to vary my excursions, I take a bicycle ride along the seaside.

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And when I’m done-I watch some SF; usually an episode of Star Trek. A Trek a day keeps the doctor away. 🙂 Currently, I am working through THE EXPANSE. 

So, how was your day? Did you see anything beautiful you’d like to share?

 

*I also write romance books. I don’t promo myself much, but feel free to check out my website.

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Quick Review: Deadly Bargain Anthology

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Deadly Bargain, edited by Brad Parker and  Mya Lairis was a good, solid weekend read with a variety of stories. The stories all feature the same dubious salesman, and the purchases/deals that the buyer makes. It covers a range of themes from shrunken heads, cursed jewelry, evil dolls, evil cars, and a wide variety of characters. The goal of Colors in Darkness is to present diversity in horror and it doesn’t disappoint. The characters were fresh, vibrant, and varied. My personal favorite stories (thought there weren’t any duds)…

Tsantsa/Judith Baron Stuart:  Stuart, fascinated by the macabre, decides to purchase a shrunken head at a small shop. Needless to say, this is not a wise choice. Stuart’s panic and desire to rid himself of the shrunken head make for a truly creepy story.

Cherry Condition/Dahlia DeWinters: My father used to have an Oldsmobile Cutlass, so I was sold on this story from the beginning. And there are few things creepier than used car salesmen and (possibly) demonic cars.

A Good Deal/ Karen Thrower: Mike purchases a gift for his girlfriend, and finds that he may have sold his soul. The strongest part of this story is the protagonist Mike-his voice and mannerisms ring true. I found myself rooting for Mike, even if he created his own problem.

 BFF’sKenya Moss Dyme: This is both a horror story; as well as a solid, character study. Maya, a special needs woman, and her best friend Bennie are the central characters. Maya’s isolation and loneliness give the story its force.

Amazon Link

Also, you may want to check out the Colors in Darkness Facebook Group

EDIT: Updated. The editors are Brad Parker and Mya Lairis.