Monday, September 5, 2016

Top Six Sci-Fi TV Series for People Who Don't Take Sci-Fi So Seriously

A lot of Sci-Fi TV series take themselves very very seriously. It's great if you just need to be serious all the time. Me, I like my science fiction with a touch of humor. So here's my list of the greatest TV science fiction series that didn't take themselves too seriously. If you have some others you'd like to add, let me know. So here's the list in no particular order:

  1. Firefly - Okay, there is at least one series I put in order. Joss Whedon's epic sci-fi series was canceled far too soon. It was quirky, funny and the characters were wonderful. It puzzled some people who were expecting Star Trek's tidy socialist federation and fuzzy collectivist economy. Instead, Firefly creates an interplanetary Wild West frontier in conflict with a powerful collectivist government and follows a band of smugglers making a dubious living out among the frontier planets.
  2. Star Trek the Original Series - What I liked about the original Star Trek vs the later versions
    was Shatner's lighter touch as captain. He never took things as seriously as the other captains. And he was a little bit randy too, which made him more interesting.
  3.  Stargate SG1 - Colonel Jack O'Neill and his merry band didlots of serious stuff, but Jack had a cock-eyed view of everything and quick, dry sense of humor. The series was a favorite early effort by the SyFy channel back when it was still the Sci-Fi channel. Dom Deluise's boys were heavily involved and Dom himself made an appearance. One of my favorite episodes was the one where the alien was hired as a consultant for a TV show called "Wormhole Extreme" which was a parody of SG1. Really funny. It gave the show a human quality and gave us more than a few laughs.
  4. Eureka - Another Sci-Fi channel original about a town full of geniuses doing work for the Department of Defense and the sheriff who tries to hold things together as the town's denizen's variously try to blow themselves up one day after another. The show is funny, poignant and smart and I was sorry to see it come to an end.
  5. Warehouse 13 - An interesting Sci-Fi channel series about a secret warehouse where all the magical and cursed items of the world were kept. Again, the team that took care of the artifacts were funny and serious and grumpy and chirpy and got into the most bizarre situations you could imagine. The show was fun and fantasy and yet overlapped on occasion with the hard science fiction world of Eureka. I loved the strange world they inhabited. 
  6. Chuck - While not exactly science fiction, this spy out ofwater series had a lot of science fictional elements to it and also had that sense of light humor and likeable characters that earned it the same kind of fiercely devoted fans the rest of the series in this list earned. 
What are your favorites? I know I left out a lot of people's favorite SF, but this was a very personal list and so I limited it to the ones that made me smile. Did I forget anything because I like to have lists of ten or twelve, so I have room to add more.  Just make your case in the comment section below.

© 2016 by Tom King

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Incoming and Outgoing - Top 25 Things Gone Bye Bye and What Is Replacing Them

In my lifetime a lot of things have disappeared from usage in America. Makes me feel old quite frankly, so I'll make this quick.


1.  78 and 45 rpm records...................Digital CDs/Mp3s                       
2.  Slide Rules.....................................Calculators  
3.  Massive Mainframe Computers.....Personal computers
4.  The Rolodex...................................The Internet
5.  Car phones......................................Cell phones
6.  Walkie-talkies.................................CB radios
7.  Refundable glass pop bottles..........Plastic and aluminum soda cans
8.  Microfilm........................................E-books & data bases
9.  Ticker Tape Machines.....................Fax machines
10. Full service gas stations.................Self-serve gas stations
11. Bruce Willis’ hair...........................Bruce Willis' bald head
12. Burma Shave Road Signs...............Pop up interactive ads
13. Olympic softball.............................Olympic synchronized swimming
14. Kodachrome slide film...................Digital cameras
15. Flash bulbs/flash cubes...................Electronic flash
16. Typewriters.....................................Word processor software
17. Freight Train Cabooses...................End-of-train-device
18. The Single Screen Movie Theater...The Multiplex
19. Folding paper maps.........................GPS/computer map software
20. Cathode Ray Picture tube TVs.........LED flat screen TVs
21. Analog NTSC television stations.....HD Digital television stations
22. Pagers...............................................Smartphones
23. Dot-matrix printers...........................Inkjet, laser and 3d Printers
24. Film movie cameras..........................Digital video cameras
25. Wire recorders/8-track tapes.............Digital audio recorders

If you read a lot of science fiction, you'll recognize a few things on the obsolete list that sci-fi authors of just a few decades ago missed the call on. The futurists could be forgiven for missing the rapid obsolescence of wire recorders, computer memory stored on tape and film cameras. Occasionally, they catch it. Star Trek got the look and feel of the cell phone right and even the bluetooth. Portable data storage, although they went for cubes instead of cards, was one of the things they got right. One wonders what will come and go in the next 50 years. You will probably be surprised.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ten Reasons I Keep Attacking Trump

My friends are wondering why I am posting so much anti-Trump stuff on my blogs and social media? They say I need to shut up and get behind Trump.  Let me answer their question once again  It doesn't mean I'll stop hammering Trump...............EVER!  To wit, my ten reasons I keep attacking Trump.

1. I loathe bullyiing - whether by the actual bully or by his followers who say I should fall in line with the bully's will or else.

2. I feel compelled to stand in the breach and shout "The British are coming" only this time it's not the British, it's the socialist progressives and their three candidates (Hillary, Bernie and the Donald).

3. I instinctively distrust anyone who calls himself "The Donald" or suggests we call him "Wonderful Donald".

4. I instinctively distrust anyone who changes his positions daily.

5. I instinctively distrust strip club and casino owners.

6. I instinctively distrust people who use lawsuits and bankruptcy to wipe out their partners' businesses and their customers savings and who think "You're fired!" is a great personal motto.

7. I instinctively distrust anyone who uses the same campaign slogans as Adolph Hitler only changing "Germany first" to "America first" and "Make Germany Great Again" to "Make America Great Again." Won wonder if he's using the same playbook as the late Fuehrer.

8. Based on just the latest policies he's put forward, I can see no basic differences between him and your garden-variety Democrat.

9. He owns strip clubs, casinos, shady businesses and has even shadier relationships with bad people. He's been indicted for racketeering, he's a serial adulterer, brags about screwing his friends' wives and he's bilked tens of thousands of "investors" on Mexican land deals and bad real estate. On the character issue, he fails the sniff test.

10. He's a lifelong socialist/progressive with occasional lapses. His brand of socialism is based on jingo nationalism. The last time we had a national socialist leading a country it worked out very badly.

Just sayin'

Tom King

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ten things I Miss About Texas that I'm stuck here in Washington State.

For some reason, God with his infinite sense of humor has placed me far from home under gray, cold and dripping skies. I miss the big old sprawling, boisterous and beautiful state of Texas where I was born and spent most of my life. Here are some of the things I miss about home.

  1. Texas sunsets and fields of bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes
  2. Canoeing Texas Rivers
  3. Sailing Texas lakes (we have actual wind there)
  4. Blue Northers (being that suddenly cold makes you know you are alive)
  5. The Alamo (Texas's #1 sacred place)
  6. Chuy's Mexican Restaurant  (Austin, Dallas and Tyler)
  7. Buffalo Creek Barbecue (Cleburne)
  8. Dinosaur Valley State park (Glen Rose)
  9. The San Jacinto Monument, Battlefield and the Battleship Texas (Texas's #2 sacred place) 
  10. Watching Tornadoes go past and miss me altogether (you know your angel is there beside you at times like these) 
There are lots of other things about Texas I like. Big Bend Country, the wide open spaces of West Texas, the Big Thicket, historic Austin, Ft. Worth Children's Museum and Planetarium, The San Antonio Riverwalk. Shakespeare in the Park in Fort Worth, The Caddo Indian Mounds, The North Texas Irish Festival, Padre Island, Jefferson River Port, Joe T. Garcia's Mexican Restaurant in Fort Worth, and Longhorn Caverns just to name a few. I love my state.

© 2016 by Tom King

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Signs You're Getting Old

Age sneaks up on you and pretty soon you're doing stuff you SWORE you'd never ever do in your life. Here are some early warning signs that decrepitude is approaching:

1. You don't have to set your alarm clock anymore, unless you want to make sure you don't get up so early that your grandkids think you must have been a dairy farmer once.

2. You choose movies to watch that won't disturb your nap. British period movies are a special favorite, although you find anything with John Wayne or Maureen O'Hara in it to be soothing.

3. You have a favorite movie that you've never seen the end of.  And that's part of the reason you like it so well.

4. You wear black knee socks with shorts - not because you think its fashionable, but because it hurts too much to bend over and take them off. I mean getting a pair of shorts on is tough enough. Who has the energy left to change your socks?

5. You drop things a lot less often, because it's too danged hard to get down on your knees to pick them back up again. Before picking anything up you look around for some kind of long-handled tool. If you haven't bought a grabber yet, you've had one in the shopping cart at least once but were too cheap to buy it.

6. You park out on the far side of the grocery store parking lot in order to (a) protect your car from dents caused by people parking next to you and (b) because the extra walk is part of your plan to get "back in shape".

7. Your memory is so far gone that you actually believe that you were once "in shape". Your stories about the days when you were in shape are the stuff of legend (or more accurately - mythology).  Joseph Campbell once interviewed you for a book he was writing.

8. At least one day a month, you never get around to changing out of your pajamas. Either that or you slept in your clothes. Either that or you wear the same clothes all the time.

9. You realize that you are probably never going to get around to writing the Great American Novel and that not paying attention in high school English probably didn't hurt your career that much or if it did, you really don't care anymore.

10. You develop a sudden interest in the surgical arts - as practiced upon yourself and your friends. You find yourself discussing colonoscopies over meals at four-star restaurants.

The bad news is that it gets worse from here on. When someone suggests going to a monthly bingo game at 6:00 am down at the McDonald's in the Walmart Supercenter, and you think it "sounds like fun", you will have officially topped the hill and begun the long slide down into geezerdom.

The good news? You've lived long enough to become a problem for your children, which is sort of payback for all the misery they caused for you when they were kids. They'll be having that "meeting" down at the I-Hop one day soon to figure out what to do with you. You will not be invited and your suggestions will not be seriously considered.

Smile and go with it (but put in your dentures first; the gums are just not attractive, okay).

(c) 2004 by Tom King

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ten Ways Your Dog is Telling You You're A Compulsive Neat Freak

Sometimes you can tell a lot about a human by the behavior of his or her dog. My wife and I have been married 39 years. Ours is a mixed marriage.  She's a compulsive clean freak. I am NOT. We've compromised on the deal. I'm now a compulsive hand-washer. I keep my street shoes in a rack by the front door and do NOT wear them in the house and I've developed an allergy to chlorine bleach. Once, I was sitting at my desk while she was cleaning the living room.  She dusted me! I've also been vacuumed, polished and sent back to rewash my hands. I'm 59 years old.

I'm now noticing signs in our dog that may indicate there's more to the theoretical symbiotic relationship between woman and beast than I first thought. Here are 10 dog behaviors I have noticed in canines who live with people who I suspect might be clinical neat freaks, if there were such a diagnosis in the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Here are the diagnostic criteria I've come up with. If your dog shows three or more of the following behaviors, YOU might be a neat freak.


1.  When the dog enters your house she throws herself over on her back and sticks her feet up to be washed.

2.  When you turn on the vacuum cleaner, the dog comes and sits in front of it until you vacuum her down with the upholstery hose and likes it.

3.  When you leave your shoes on the floor, the dog puts them on the shoe rack by the front door.

4.  The dog enjoys taking a bath.

5.  The dog wears more cologne than you do and has her own fragrance.

6.  The dog has a dog bed in every room with washable slipcovers that are washed more often than weekly.

7.  The dog's food costs more than yours and/or she's vegan, has her own toothbrush and a favorite brand of special doggie toothpaste.

8.  The dog has at some time or other worn underpants around the house.

9.  The dog doesn't like for its feet to touch grass or dirt.

10. The dog expects you to wipe her butt after she goes poop (after you pick the poop up with the special plastic gloves and properly dispose of it, of course - and she sits and watches you to make sure you do it).

My dog is beginning to develop a few of these traits, but fortunately, she has me to take her for a walk and show her how the other half lives occasionally. We both know, however, that the rules go back into effect at the front door where our shoes come off and our feet get washed!

© 2013 by Tom King

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Top Ten Lists Reveal the Top Ten Reasons American Culture is Dying

© 2013 by Tom King

If you want to take the temperature of American Culture, go spool through top ten lists - top ten worst movies, top ten funniest movies, top ten reasons you're stupid and I'm not.  You'll get a taste of what passes for cutting edge cultural awareness and good taste in the world of 20 to 30 somethings, who are apparently the only human beings worthy of the attention of advertisers. Either that or you'll take an overdose of something handy and die.

Should you survive with your brain relatively intact, here are ten things that, according to our society's youthful critical class, which are the essential criteria for coolness, at least according to today's most "important" demographic.

1. Drugs - I waded through several "top ten funniest movies of all time" expecting to find stuff like "Some Like it Hot", "Philadelphia Story", "Bringing Up Baby" and "The Odd Couple".  Instead it was usually ten movies about teenagers using drugs, having sex and committing mayhem. The criteria for funny these days is apparently directly proportional to the the quantity of drugs consumed while taking your pants off.

2. Meaninglessness - When looking at the best overlooked films, most under-rated films, best movies of all time, the lists lean strongly toward the dystopian, post-modernist, violent and obscure. The more depressing the ending, the more likely to win the Oscar. Apparently being militantly hopeless is the new cool.

3. Self-Centeredness - The kinds of things that make the top ten lists these days tend to be films, music and television about characters who are not just anti-heroes, but about characters that are anti-human almost. Slashers now have cult followings and any character who acts selflessly in these types of films is quickly revealed to be a self-centered fraud in disguise. Moral of the story?  Everybody is a self-centered prat and no one is to be trusted, not even yourself.  I blame Freud.

4. Immodest Dress - The most admirably decked out in our modern world are those who show lots of cleavage, thigh and nipple, roughly in that order and without regard to gender. Skin tight, liposuction chiseled abs are standard as are enhanced bosoms and buttocks, whether by surgery or steroid treatments. Black is still cool. While I'm growing tired of strategically placed rags, apparently the culture has decided to run with it. Fashion designers are still managing to sell tattered dishcloths as high fashion, however.

5. Attitude - Attitude is important in the modern urban dystopia. It seems that you cannot be cool unless you are totally self-interested, chronically negative and pretty danged arrogant about it. Giant egos and abusive manners are hereby all the rage.  Women have, in this attitudinous culture, been freed from their shackles only to submit meekly to being called b%^#$ and wh#@%$. I fail to see how feminists have improved their lot at all, but hey, I admit to being uncool.

6. Disdainfulness - It is particularly important in your search for coolness in today's edgy culture, that you look down on the things your peers all look down upon. You must have nothing good to say about religion, mom, apple pie and country and speak dismissively to anyone who is not approved of by your fellow disdainfuls in the same manner that a superior speaks to a menial (and lets face it, anyone who is not you or part of the cool group is a menial).

7. Criticality - Thanks to the Internet, we can not only share our most private thoughts, talk back to celebrities and be spied on by our mothers, but because we in this free information cornucopia of opportunity, everybody's a bloody critic. You have to watch out though. If you criticize the wrong thing (as I am doing now) and anyone finds out, you may be swarmed by your fellow critics and worse, be dismissed as a cultural dinosaur by the arbiters of what's gangsta, whoever they are.

8. Thugitude - Something about being a thug that brings romance into our lives these days. The sort of music you listen to should support all the above personality traits in addition to helping you to project a vaguely (and, when necessary, not so vaguely) threatening aspect to any of wankers who attempt get in your face.

9. Illiteracy - We are apparently sliding back to the medieval in terms of spelling and word usage. Evidently, those who are really a part of the special group of cutting edge intellects these days have forgone spelling and spell words or use grammar in any fashion that occurs to them. It's a combination of urban street slang, text message shortcuts and creative attempts to indicate to others that you are somehow superior to everyone else. Kind of like pig Latin for thugs. "Wad up, br? Fo Shizzle my dizzle, what a bizzo meet me up the gizzo when you get a clizzo, and yo bro wuz the problemo? ROTFLMAO"

10. Obama Worshipfulness - Finally, you must believe that President Obama represents the only hope for the future of mankind and you must be believe in him no matter what he says or in spite of any evidence that he's an egomaniacal Marxist tyrant to the contrary. Just repeat this mantra, "Obama good, Tea Party baaaad!" over and over until your eyes glaze and you develop an overwhelming urge to eat human brains. Once you have achieved this state, the only thing to remember is to avoid people with shotguns and you are officially off the heezie fo' sheezie and a card-carrying member of the Zombie Apocalypse.

I'm just sayin'