How I Waste My Time (The last 7 shows I watched on Netflix)

As you may have noticed, I’m slipping on the posts… again. I continue to struggle with the idea that I really want to post regularly, every day, something, just something every day. And I even got caught up one week, to the point that come Monday, I had posts finished and scheduled for every day that week, and posts planned for the following week. And then life happened, and my friend passed away (which I mentioned in a Thursday post), and I had a series of sleepless nights and migraine-filled days, and I had a friend’s book to publish (the draft of which I’m finally expecting, today), and I really had to get going working on new books of my own (even just ebooks that I can sell for 99¢ a pop), and school started again and I realized that maybe getting up at 6:30 AM (when I’m naturally an evening person) and driving back and forth to Tyngsborough every day isn’t actually better than having the kids at home with me interrupting me every 15 minutes… Sigh.

But I’m going to try it again. Try, try again. Try a new motivation. Try a new tactic. Try something different. Keep trying, either until I get it right or until I die trying. (Or dye trying.)

(On the bright side, I do have a number of posts I’m working on for next week. And I’m excited about them.)

In the meantime, I thought I might share with you the contents of my Netflix Instant Watching Activity log. (Which you might consider part of the reason why I don’t have a real post to share today. And you might be right.) Most of these titles are TV series or mini-series. I love TV, because I can consume massive amounts of content that I enjoy, in bite-sized pieces.

Beginning at the most recent:

  1. Mythbusters – This has long been a favorite of mine. Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage scientifically test popular urban legends and beliefs to see whether they’re plausible or just plain silly. Some of these tests are quite elaborate, and some of the urban legends, wicked entertaining. From the Mythbusters, I’ve improved my sense of what makes a good story, and when to question certain common plot clichés. The Discovery Channel, however, has been really stingy with releasing these episodes. Netflix was finally able to ink a deal that allowed them to offer a number of episodes, some of which are even my favorites. But I tend to most enjoy the older, classic episodes, only a limited number of which are available. Mostly, anymore, I put on an episode to fall asleep to, as I’ve already seen them all so many times, I can watch them in my sleep.

  2. How the Earth Was Made – My Beloved and I recently discovered this History Channel documentary series, about geology… with plenty of rocks, glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics. Each episode examines the geological story—from the bird’s eye—of a different location or geological feature—like Krakatoa or the Great Lakes—and reviews the scientific evidence for the accepted explanation of how and why that location has the characteristics it does. Fascinating stuff. I’m not sure how to work it into a story yet, except maybe I might be able to use it to help plan an SF/F world.

  3. Magnum, P.I. – Originally, this was not one of my favorite classic shows. More recently, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for it, especially for its characters. Netflix offered a limited set of episodes years ago; then their contract apparently ran out. But they brought the series back, with the complete set of episodes. As the mood strikes, I’ve been catching up on the in-between episodes I have not yet seen.

  4. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Yes, I still watch Star Trek. I’ll always watch Star Trek. I used to consider Star Trek a guilty pleasure, but I’ve since realized that some of the qualities that I like in the show are exactly the kinds of things I should never be ashamed of, like stories that question human values, or Vulcan spirituality. These are the same types of devices I want to become even more adept at integrating into my own stories. The Little One and I have been on a quest to watch all (or most of) the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine episodes, together, in order.

  5. Quincy, M.E. – Another of those not-my-favorite classic shows. Quincy is like a 1970’s Bones who preaches at the audience too much (as though Bones didn’t do that at all). It’s a great exercise in distinguishing what to do and what not to do in my own stories. But despite its warts, I have a soft spot for procedurals of that era. One common memory from my childhood was falling asleep, while my parents watched Quincy in the next room. I grew up knowing the Quincy theme song, but none of the plots. Besides which, a key moment of the Gilmore Girls storyline contains an allusion to Quincy, and I just had to identify which episode. (Which I have seen, but which I have now forgotten which one it is.)

  6. Jim Gaffigan: Beyond the Pale and Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe – I had never seen stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan perform before. I laughed more at Mr. Universe than the other one. A guilty pleasure, and a fine way to unwind.

  7. Murder, She Wrote – Okay, so I’m currently on a classic-TV kick. And this is another guilty pleasure. After all, a mystery novelist repeatedly finds herself in the middle of murder investigations, which the police are all-too-happy to have her assist with, because she always solves them with astounding speed, what could be more natural or plausible? Truthfully, though, I find Jessica Fletcher way less annoying than Adrian Monk, who was fun for the first 3 years or so, and then quickly exasperated me, as he really really needed to fire his psychologist and instead find one who could actually help him make substantive progress leveraging his strengths and displacing his dysfunctional behaviors. (Did I mention that characters are the most important part of a story to me, and if you’re going to do rich or quirky characters, with me, you gotta do them right.)