The Big Bang Observation

The Big Bang Observation

The Big Bang Theory ran on CBS from 2007 to 2019. Admittedly, I didn’t watch the first couple of seasons. I began watching it around 2014. When it went into syndication, I began watching the reruns on TBS. When I went down to the very basic cable package in 2020, the only thing I really missed were those reruns. I bought the series on DVD and began watching it from beginning to end. Eventually, I got HBO Max and was able to stream it as well.

Having watched it a ton of times, I have a number of things that I have observed about the show and its characters. First, some random things. Why do Leonard and Penny’s apartments have doorbells but no one uses them? And why do they have a card catalog in the apartment? Is there anything in the drawers or is it empty? Did Leonard put the old fuse holder on the wooden pillar? And what purpose does it serve, if any? And the set up of the apartments make no sense. Apartments tend to fold in on themselves to make the best use of space, but the apartments in the show are all spread out. Despite some of the lingering questions I have about the décore, I do love the bright colors they use to decorate the apartments.

Now, I want to address so-called “Nerd Culture.” While the writers do seem to have an affinity for things like Dungeons and Dragons, Comic Books, Star Trek and Star Wars, they also make fun of the characters for having a passion for these same things. Real life “nerds” have complained that the writing often portrays them in an unflattering light. I can see why someone might take offense to some of jokes, but I don’t feel the comedy was meant to be malicious. I think a lot of the problems stem from Anti-Intellectual streak that runs through the US. If the writer’s merely praised the those who were incredibly intelligent, the show would not have had such a broad appeal. If the characters were without flaws, no one would have liked them. The have to make the characters socially awkward to make them more relatable or likable.

Sheldon Cooper

Sheldon Cooper is, without a doubt, on the autism spectrum. I am not sure why they never actually addressed it. Perhaps they didn’t intend to write him that way, but once they did, they decided not to call attention to it. If they had labeled Sheldon as such, they would have received a great deal of criticism for how the portrayed someone with autism. They couldn’t poke fun at Sheldon’s quirks if they admitted those quirks grew out of the fact he was neurodivergent.

While I have read about Sheldon having Asperger’s Syndrome, I haven’t noticed anything mentioned about Leonard’s Mother Beverly. Her cold and detached parenting style screams autism. The reason Sheldon and Beverly get along so well, is that they are both neurodivergent. It also makes sense that Leonard gets stuck with Sheldon as a roommate because of his “mommy” issues. Leonard tolerates Sheldon because he had tolerate his mother growing up. Sheldon slowly starts to stand up for himself and resolve some of his issues through his relationship with his his friend and roommate over the 12 year run of the show. We see Leonard get to the point where he can marry Penny and live with her instead of the infuriating Sheldon. Sheldon is still a huge part of his life and still lives across the hall, but the two of them are no longer working out their issues together.

Howard’s relationship with his mother is quite troubling. They tend to make fun of their unhealthy closeness, but what they never address is how mean Howard is to her. She yells at him from across the house and he angrily snaps back at her. Although her love may feel smothering, the level of resentment Howard demonstrates is disturbing. And Mrs. Wolowitz just takes it. She deserves more respect than that. It just makes me sad to see how Howard treats her.


He doesn’t always treat Bernadette great either, but she has a mean streak and fights back. Their relationship had some unhealthy undercurrents, but luckily they seemed to work on their relationship and ultimately come to a healthy and happy place together.

The writer’s have often used homosexuality and bisexuality as a cause for comedy, but never really addressed the issues seriously. I really would have liked to Raj date a guy even if it wasn’t Howard. He keeps claiming he isn’t and maybe he isn’t gay in the strictest sense. Raj is probably bisexual, but the writers never thought to explore that intelligently. The writers also made quite a few references to Amy’s crush on Penny, but it was never addressed either. Amy went from asexual to bisexual quickly and without ceremony. Again, it was played for laughs, but it should have been explored further.

Another thing that gets overlooked is just how abusive Amy’s mother was. Amy’s mother wasn’t just odd or a “ball-buster.” She was controlling over Amy and incredibly uncomfortable with any hint that her daughter was a sexual being. Amy awkwardness and outsider status was due largely to her mother isolating her from corruptible influences. Although Amy’s Mom wasn’t labeled overly religious, we get the feeling religion was a part of her reason for controlling Amy. Sheldon’s mother wasn’t abusive, but she was very religious. Amy and Sheldon both became scientists and atheists, at least in part due to their religious upbringings. I would think this element of their childhoods is part of why they connected in the first place.

Young Sheldon

The show Young Sheldon explores Sheldon’s childhood in Texas. I thought they did a great job in casting a younger version of his Mom. She looked a lot like Laurie Metcalf, who played Mary Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. They I found out that the young Mary Cooper is played by Zoey Perry, who is the daughter of Laurie Metcalf! No wonder they looked so much alike!

Overall, I have enjoyed the prequel to The Big Bang Theory,: however, I couldn’t help but notice George Cooper’s alcoholism is played down in the spin-off. Sheldon’s recollections in the original series paint a childhood filled with drama. I imagine the writer’s didn’t want us to hate George Senior, so they toned down his bad behavior when they started writing the new show. One could also argue that Sheldon made things sound worse than they really were. Despite being toned down, the basic outline of events remains true, which is nice. It would have driven me crazy if they kept Sheldon’s parents together or changed some other part of the narrative we would already given in the original show.

People either seem to love or hate The Big Bang Theory. While I consider myself a fan, I do see flaws in the show. There are many funny moments, but some jokes do fall flat. The jokes that fall flat are jokes that rely too heavily on stereotypes or try to over simplify things too much. There are some serious moments that are moving, but overall tone of the show is light. Comedy is supposed to be light, but some serious moments are necessary to keep it real. The trick is finding the right balance. Sometimes The Big Bang Theory succeeds in keeping this balance and other times it doesn’t.

Despite these issues, I love The Big Bang Theory anyway. I have come to feel like I know the characters. They are familiar and relatable. They grew and changed over 12 Seasons and I have come to see them as friends. Watching the show is comforting.

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2 (Not So) Broke Girls

Caroline and Max

2 (Not So) Broke Girls

The TV Show 2 Broke Girls ran from 2011 to 2017 on CBS. It is a still a very polarizing show. People either love it or hate it. I, for one, enjoyed it. I know it isn’t particularly well-written and it often feels more like a guilty pleasure than anything. It is a flawed show, for sure, but it is fun.

The first season of the show showed what it was like to live in poverty. Max went to the laundromat and shopped at a thrift store. Honestly, I could relate. Very few shows depict people in poverty. It is frustrating to watch Middle Class and Rich people all the time. I think it would be nice to have their easy life and face relatively minor conflicts. To those of us who struggle, the Middle Class life doesn’t feel realistic.

I loved Max with her bigger than life personality. I also loved her big boobs and her smart mouth. Max had a terrible childhood, which made her a complicated person. She came across tough as nails, but her tough exterior was just covering up her softer side. Caroline could be annoying, and often shallow, but she balanced Max out. They worked well together as a team and their friendship was inspiring. And I love how everyone at the diner became one big family. They were really there for each other.

Some people were put off by all the dirty jokes. I didn’t mind most of them. Occasionally, they took things too far—like when they made rape jokes. Sex is can be quite amusing, but rape is never funny. Luckily, they stopped using those jokes in the second season.

The other complaint about the show was that it relied on stereotypes, and it often did. Although the jokes that relied on stereotypes fell flat and got old, the writers didn’t appear to harbor any real bias or hatred. It was supposed to be all in good fun. The problem, I believe, lies trying to write an old fashioned comedy in the modern age. Comedy movies and shows have always relied on stereotypes for a large portion of their jokes, but times have changed and writers need to change along with it.

Representation is something that is important. Shows like Girls and Sex And The City have been criticized for being white-washed. 2 Broke Girls is ultimately about two white women, but the supporting cast is diverse at least. We have an Asian restaurant owner in Han. Earl the cashier is black. Sophie is Polish and Oleg is Ukrainian. They have also had various gay and lesbian supporting characters as well. And unlike the reboot of Sex and The City (And Just Like That) the representation in 2 Broke Girls doesn’t feel forced.

My biggest personal gripe is that they abandoned the whole poverty angle. The focus becomes the Cupcake Business in its various incarnations. While I wanted them to succeed, I missed the references to daily struggles of living in the lower class. Stealing napkins from Starbucks when they couldn’t afford toilet paper kept it real. I wasn’t impressed when they went all Hollywood in the last couple of Seasons. The whole premise of the two girls being broke was undermined when they became successful. The show should have stopped there, but they drug it out for another season or so.

If you are looking for something revolutionary or deep, you won’t find it in 2 Broke Girls. But if you want a pleasant distraction, it is worth checking out. And if you are a fan of Beth Behr, you can check out her new show on CBS The Neighborhood. Or if you are a Kat Dennings fan, you watch Dollface on Hulu.

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The Ennui of Euphoria

The Ennui of Euphoria

Euphoria is 2019 HBO show. I had heard of it, but didn’t know much about it. Finally, I clicked on it on HBO Max and found myself hooked. It is graphic and gritty, but strangely addictive. The characters are compelling and you grow to care about them. That is why this dark and depressing tale of teenage angst is not only watchable, but inherently bingeable.

Teenagers that drink and do drugs isn’t exactly a new concept. Much of the ground has already been covered. What is revolutionary about it is its representation of the LGBTQ community. The central character, Rue, is involved in a relationship with the Transgender woman Jules. Other male characters in the series are struggling with their latent homosexuality as well.

Female nudity has long been a staple of Cable TV, but this show tends toward more male nudity. While I am all for equal rights, I must say I am unimpressed. I thought it would exciting to finally see more male skin, it turns out that it makes the show feel less titillating overall. Once the shock value wears off, you see the sad subtext of male dominance and violence in everyday life.

One thing that jumped out at me while watching the series is how stylized it is. The lighting is always dark or unnatural in some way. Most of the action takes place at night and in the shadows. The scenes are often lit by green or red lights or some color that makes it feel surreal. Sometimes the light adds a fuzzy or blurry effect to the scene, which makes the viewer feel a bit drunk or high.

Although the show takes place in the present day, there are a lot of call backs to the 1970s and 1980s. There are plenty of smart phones and laptops in the show, but the houses look like they have not been renovated at all. These lower middle class families exist in a world that forty or fifty years behind the sleek modern world. There is a lot wood paneling and dark wood cabinets. Brown, orange and mustard yellow are a large part of the color pallet, and those feel like definite stylistic choices.

The make-up is modern day, but it too calls us back to the 1970s and 1980s. The glittery eye shadow and low cut tops are glamorous touches. While the overall trend in the 2020s has been more modest, we get a glimpse into flashy world of fashion. We see the tight dresses and long nails that belong in the world of “Real Housewives” and “Claws.” These popular party girls are always over the top and take things to the extreme.

Oddly, Rue is the one character who dresses down. She rarely wears make-up and is often in an over-sized T-shirt and jeans. She is skinny with a head of dark and wild hair. She isn’t slick or shiny like all the girls around her. Rue is plain. She is a wallflower who gets to observe the crazy drama unfolding around her. She is the narrator—the author of some crazy documentary or drama.

I love how they actually made Lexi have her own reality show on E. They parody the unscripted dramas and bring attention to their artificial natures. The fake TV show barely scratches the surface of the darkness that exists within this generation. Rue rarely references the show, but it pops up every so often to make the audience realize the adults and everyone around them are completely clueless.

The Netflix show 13 Reasons was the first capture the collective trauma of living in this modern society. Euphoria takes it a step further. Instead of trying to open a dialog, like 13 Reasons, Euphoria seeks to sensationalize and push boundaries. It seeks to portray without preaching. Euphoria is inviting us into the dark world of drugs and doesn’t apologize for being melodramatic or morose.

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And Just Like That

And Just Like That

And Just LIke That

And Just Like That the gals from Sex And The City have turned into The Golden Girls! Given all the differences between being 55 in 1985 and being 55 in 2022, perhaps we should call Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda The Silver Girls. Lol.

I’ve been watching reruns of The Golden Girls on Hulu and keeping up with the Sex And The City Reboot on HBO Max. Granted, the reboot is not as good as the original series, but it does provide some fascinating insights into aging in the 2020s.

In the late 1980s Blanche, Dorthy and Rose were in a new phase of their lives. After her husband died, Blanche needed roommates. Enter Dorothy and Rose. Dorthy was divorced and Rose was widowed. All three of them had children who were grown and out on their own. Some of their kids even had kids of their own. These Middle Aged women found friendship in each other in a time that would have otherwise been lonely for them.

In the 2020s Carrie has been widowed, but she is fine with living alone. She has the financial Independence to have her own apartment. Once Big bites the big one, she sells her old apartments and gets a brand new apartment.

Miranda is married and has nearly grown son who still lives with her. Like Miranda, Charlotte started her family later in life. She is still married and the mother of two teenagers. She is in the role that traditionally would have been filled by someone in their 30s. But in the past 30 some years, women have been able to put off childbearing. Science and society has given women more options over the years.

And the fashion! The Golden Girls dressed fashionably. But their fashion was always a downplayed version of what younger people were wearing. Clothes for women in their 40s, 50s and 60s were more modest. Although they were allowed to look pretty, they were not allowed to look youthful and sexy.

While The Golden Girls were still limited by the society they lived in, they were at least being acknowledged. Since Television began, women and middle aged people have largely been ignored. They did not get their proper recognition or representation in media. The Golden Girls was revolutionary when it aired in the late 80s and early 90s.

With Sex And The City in the early 2000s, women enjoyed seeing characters they could identify with on screen. These women were sexy and single and—gasp—older than 25. While men and sex were important to them, it was their friendship that gave them their strength. These women didn’t define themselves as wives and mothers. They had apartments, careers and active sex lives. They lived like men in many ways, but kept their femininity. It was revolutionary when it first aired.

The women of Sex and The City were originally in their late 30s, but now they are now in their mid 50s. They are the same age as Dorothy and Blanche in The Golden Girls, but they sure as don’t look like them. The actresses who portray them have had plastic surgery and/or other procedures done. They don’t look like older women. Only Miranda sports traditionally white or gray hair. Carrie keeps her blond locks and only wears glasses occasionally. Charlotte still has a full head of luscious brunette hair. They wear the latest fashions and are still fiercely independent. Essentially, the gals of Sex And The City are merely slightly older versions of themselves. They haven’t changed their looks or behavior despite the fact that twenty years have passed since we first fell in love with them.

While, I like the fact that society no longer views middle aged women as disposable or replaceable, I still take issue with the struggle to still look young. Most plastic surgery just looks like work has been done. Charlotte is a prime example of this. Plastic Surgery just makes the person look like they’ve had plastic surgery. It doesn’t really make them look younger. It is wonderful to not have to modify our fashion or sense fun as we age, but we should also recognize that looking our age is not a bad thing. Society needs to embrace the aging process instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.

The good news is that women have come a long way in 35 years. The bad news is that we still have a ways to go. Despite the fact the gals of The Golden Girls looked old, I love their honest and witty conversations. These are women who have led full lives and well-round individuals. They aren’t just representations of what some man thought or felt women should be like. That honesty and wit is something I love about Sex and The City as well.

And Just Like That, the reboot of Sex and The City, is missing this witty dialog. It is still honest, but it is not as well written as the original Sex and The City series. I still like catching up with my favorite characters and seeing how their lives continued even if the show isn’t as good as the original. It proves that life doesn’t end at 30 or 40 or even 50. It just continues to evolve and change. Largely, the sadder tone of the reboot has to do with the times we live in—not sadness of aging. It is difficult to write with the same lighthearted touch that went into the original given all that has happened in the world over the past few years. If the reboot happened a few years ago, I am sure the tone would have been much different.

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Diary Titles 2021

January 1, 2021 Surreal

January 15, 2021 AI

January 28, 2021 Red Angel

February 14, 2021 Heroine’s Quest

February 28, 2021 Anti-Hero

March 14, 2021 Fiery Cross

March 16, 2021 Hireth

April 10, 2021 News of The World

April 27, 2021 Mystery Box

May 14, 2021 Parle Vous Francias

May 31, 2021 Transitions

June 12, 2021 Marauders

June 27, 2021 Dark Horse

July 4, 2021 Firework

July 15, 2021 Marvel

July 31, 2021 A Million Little Things

August 12, 2021 Still Breathing

August 25, 2021 Legacies

September 6, 2021 911

September 24, 2021 Shrill

October 12, 2021 Blackbirds

November 2, 2021 Dragonfest

November 19. 2021 Infinity Train

December 6, 2021 Arcane

December 18, 2021 The Wheel of Time

December 30, 2021 Colorado Springs

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The Vampire Diaries Postmortem

Vampire Diaries: A Postmortem

It is Halloween month and so I decided to re-watch all 8 Seasons of The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017). I read the books back in 1991 and 1992 when they came out and was excited to see a series based on them. It didn’t take long to realize that the series was going to become its own entity. It used the same characters, but changed the plot quite a bit.

Each Season had its own arch or theme, while the love triangle between Elena, Stefan and Damon played itself out through the whole of the series. The last two seasons focused more on the relationship between the brothers Salvatore since Nina Dobrev left before the end of the series.

Season 1 was all about Vampires. I enjoyed the initial meeting of the characters. Although I was upset at first that Elena wasn’t blond and that Caroline was more of a friend than an enemy, I grew to love them. Despite the show not meeting my expectations, I liked series overall. Instead of keeping Katherine and Klaus as part of the surprise ending, they introduced them early on. Then they created the Tomb Vampires to keep Stefan and Damon busy. There were no tomb vampires in the books. They are filler material. I kept waiting for them to introduce Meredith Fell and her ancestor Honoria Fell. Eventually, they made Meredith a doctor and Alaric’s love interest in Season 3, but they never mentioned Honoria.

Season 2 was all about Werewolves. In the climax of the books, we find out Tyler Lockwood is a Werewolf, as are a number of other residence of Fells Church, Virginia. In Mystic Falls, we are introduced to Mason Lockwood and find out about the all-powerful moonstone. While Klaus did use Caroline and Tyler to do his dirty work in the books, there was nothing about him wanting to break a curse using a moonstone. While I liked that they traded Elena’s little sister for a teenage brother named Jeremy and I liked Jenna, I did not like Isobel and Jonathan. Why did they feel a need to make Elena adopted? And why did her real Mom have to be a narcissistic vampire who abandoned her? What is up with all the shitty mothers in the series?

Season 3 was all about The Originals. The focus is on Klaus, his family and the creation of Hybrids. Hybrids are a combination of Werewolf and Vampire in a single person, like Klaus. We know little about Klaus from the books, except he was the one who turned Katherine and that he was an original. In the TV show we get a huge backstory and lots of siblings for our bad guy, which is cool. Only it turns out, Klaus is more of an anti-hero than a villain. And this is the Season we see Stefan’s history as a Ripper. I guess they needed to make him less of a one dimensional good guy. Oh, and Elena finally becomes a Vampire, like she does in the books.

Season 4 was all about Doppelgangers. Although I found this season a bit convoluted, I did enjoy the back story of the Doppelgangers. The story of Silas and Amara added depth to the overall mythology. I was surprised that they put Damon and Elena together, but with 8 long Seasons it was bound to happen. I held out hope she’d realize what she’d lost in Stefan. They also introduced the idea of The Hunters into the story, which I was not crazy about. I get Jeremy needed a hobby, but Vampire Hunter? Really?And how did it take 4 years for Elena and the gang to go through 2 years of High School? How did they even pass when they stopped attending classes on a regular basis at the beginning of the series?

Season 5 was all about Katherine and The Travelers. This was one of my least favorite seasons. It had nothing to do with the original series at all. Elena and the Gang go to college. There is this whole plot line about Whitmore’s experimenting on Vampires and torturing Damon. Then there are the Travelers. Body Jumpers can be found in various mythologies, but it seemed detached from the rest of the series. I was also so over Katherine and her ways. While I liked the introduction of her daughter, I didn’t like Katherine jumping into Elena. I wondered if they were inspired by The Return book by LJ Smith, published in 2009. If so, why didn’t they follow the books more closely?

Season 6 was all about The Gemini Coven. We were introduced to a new witch named Liv and her twin named Luke in Season 5. Later, we are introduced to Jo and her psycho twin Kai, short of Malachi. Kai is truly a frightening villain who relishes in making everyone suffer. There is this whole prison world thing, which felt a little too much like Ground Hog Day. The Twin Merging thing was weird. The presence of Lilly Salvatore felt forced. However, the wedding at the end shocked me and moved me to tears. I felt so bad for Alaric and everyone who died at Kai’s hands. Re-watching it, I kept screaming at everyone not to trust Kai. They should have just killed him ASAP.

Season 7 was all about The Heretics and Rayna/The Armory. They really should have ended the series in either Season 4 or Season 6, but no. They drug it out two more seasons and I kept watching. The bad guys are the Heretics for half the season and then it is just Julian and then it is Rayna. The Heretics are Witch-Vampire Hybrids, which weren’t supposed to exist. And Caroline is pregnant with Jo and Alaric’s twins? It was a creative way to write Candace King’s pregnancy into the script, but I wasn’t sure I bought it. When the twins make their appearance, I saw their importance in furthering the story. I warmed up to them eventually. Later, they would be essential to the spin-off Legacies. Anyway, I was incredibly bored with the whole Rayna and Armory plotline. I didn’t like Bonnie and Enzo as a couple. I just couldn’t grow to love Enzo as much as I’d grown to love Damon or even Klaus. They tried to soften him, but it felt forced. Did I mention I hated the time jumps? Yeah, the whole Season was a huge mess!

Season 8 was all about The Siren and tying up loose endings. I hated the Siren plot. It reminded me too much of True Blood and it just pained me to see Damon and Enzo suffer so much. I liked that they involved the twins into the plot though. I didn’t like that Stefan ended up with Caroline and Damon ended up with Elena. That is not how I saw the books going. I recognize that Damon and Elena had better chemistry on the show, but I fell in love with Stefan from the books and saw him getting his happy ending. It made me sad to see him die, even it was for the greater good. The very end of the series showing the characters reuniting in the afterlife reminded me of Lost. The last episode did move me even if I didn’t agree with how they ended everyone’s stories.

Overall, I liked the Supernatural Teen Soap. I was pleased that the show was more Urban Fantasy than its Gothic Grandfather Dark Shadows. It made it more relatable. The writers were good with redemption arcs and I like how they used the idea of a humanity switch. Most people are neither completely good nor completely evil. Bad people do good things and good people do bad things. The writers also had the task of making us like vampires—aka serial killers. For the most part, they were able to make the characters sympathetic. But above all else, the writers had killer taste in music. Even when the Season sucked, I loved the music. I often used the songs from the show in my own compilation mixes.

Some Favorite Songs From the Series: Obsession, Sleep Alone, Cut, A Girl Like Me, Youth Knows No Pain, Love Is Just Another Way To Die, Dance Me To The End of Love, Love Don’t Die, Come With Me Now, Do I Wanna Know, Up in Flames, Radioactive, This World, Hypnotic and many others!

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Legacies is the name of The Vampire Diaries and Originals spin-off. It follows Hope Mikaelson and her adventures at The Salvatore School for the supernatural. Hope is the Daughter of Klaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall from The Originals. Hope is a Tri-Byrd or a Witch, a Vampire and a Werewolf combined. The Salvatore School named for Stefan and Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. Alaric reprises his role as teacher and monster hunter. His Gemini Witch Daughters Lizzie and Josie also go to the school.

Think of Legacies as a combination of Harry Potter, Grimm and Fablehaven series. We have a boarding school like in Harry Potter, but it isn’t just Witches and Wizards that go there. Vampires and Werewolves are also welcome. Later, we find out there are Fairies and Phoenixes as well. Very little time seems to be spent studying or learning things from books. Hope has to battle a variety of monsters each week, which reminded me of Grimm. However, there is a bit of Supernatural sense of humor in the show. Her battles ultimately lead to the discovery of Malivore. Malivore is known as the Eater of the Dark. He effectively erases mythological creatures from existence. The tar pit portal reminded me of the Demon Prison of Fablehaven.

Overall, the series is a little more humorous and lighthearted than its predecessors, but there is still plenty of drama. I missed watching it when it originally aired, but have watched Seasons 1and 2 on Netflix the past couple of weeks and I am looking forward to Seasons 3 on Netflix and Season 4 on The CW this Fall!

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QUBO ran from 2006 to 2021. It began as a block of cartoons on NBC on Saturday mornings. Then it moved to a free digital over the air channel for kids. We discovered it when we purchased a digital antenna when we lived in Denver. It was a lifesaver when PBS Kids switched to regular PBS around 5pm each weekday. We didn’t get The Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Disney at the time, so PBS kids and QUBO was it from 2011 until 2013. Of course we got DVDs from the library, so the kids weren’t totally out of the loop on popular shows, but we weren’t able to watch new episodes.

QUBO aired reruns of older kid shows along with some of their own original programming. My kids enjoyed Jane and Dragon, Mona The Vampire, Madeline, 3-2-1 Penguins, Zula Patrol, Jacob Two Two, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego, The Magic School Bus, The Mysteries of Alfred The Hedgehog, Pipi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables Animated Series and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. Occasionally they would watch Artzooka, Bob The Builder, Babar, Animorphs, Animal Atlas, Franklin, Pecola, Marvin the Tap Dancing Horse, Harry and His Bucket of Dinosaurs and The World of Richard Scary.

Jane and the Dragon was based off of a book by Martin Baynton. The Canadian-New Zealand cartoon was done in a unique style and was well written. The plot revolves around Jane, who is a red head adolescent girl who lives in the late 8th or early 9th century. Kippernia Castle in a small fictional kingdom called Kippernium located in southern England. According to the backstory explained in the opening theme song, Jane was being trained to become a Lady-in-waiting, but had always dreamed of becoming a knight. When the prince is kidnapped by a dragon, Jane sets out to slay the beast. When Jane brings the prince back, the king makes her a knight apprentice. Jane and the dragon end up becoming best friends.

Jacob Two-Two is a Canadian Cartoon as well. It was based on the books written by Mordecai Richler. The youngest of five children, Jacob got his ‘Two-Two’ nickname because he always had to say everything twice to be heard by his large family when he was smaller. Jacob does not repeat himself as often as an older kid, but still frequently falls back into this old habit. He inadvertently causes trouble because he always tells the truth. The plot usually revolves around some mystery Jacob Two-Two has to figure out or task he has to complete.

Mona the Vampire is a Canadian-French-Chinese children’s animated television series that was created by Sonia Holleyman. The series is based on a series of 1990s children’s books of the same name that was written and illustrated by Sonia Holleyman. The series follows the adventures of Mona Parker, who refers to herself as “Mona the Vampire”, as well as her two best friends, Lily Duncan (“Princess Giant”) and Charley Bones (“Zapman”), and her pet cat, Fang, as they imagine themselves confronting a new supernatural foe, or solving a supernatural mystery, in every episode, but there are always rational explanations for what they see.

3-2-1 Penguins! is an American-Canadian sci-fi computer-animated Christian children’s television series, initially launched on November 14, 2000 as a direct-to-video episode Twins Jason and Michelle are spending summer with their British Grandmum in The Poconos region of Pennsylvania. Grandmum has a collection of kitschy ceramic figurines, the most prized of which is four penguins in a rocket ship (a honeymoon gift from her deceased husband). In the first video, the twins accidentally drop the ship, but instead of breaking, it flies into the air and reveals the four penguins are actually the crew of a real spaceship. One of the twins is then pulled into the ship, using the crew’s Galeezle (shrinking) device, and taken on a galactic adventure. Zidgel, Midgel and Fidgel are the main penguins, along with Kevin.

Both Zula Patrol (American) and The Magic School Bus (Canadian-American) aimed to teach children science in a fun way. Zula Patrol, where the characters all travel in a space ship, explores astronomy and physics, while The Magic School Bus covers a wide range of subjects. In The Magic School Bus Miss Frizzle embarks on adventures with her class on the eponymous school bus. As they journey on their exciting field trips, they discover locations, creatures, time periods and more to learn about the wonders of science along the way.

Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego, which is an American Cartoon, taught Geography and History, which was cool. Carmen Sandiego is an international thief and the head of V.I.L.E. Despite the name of her organization, she has a strong code of morals and only steals for the challenge of it. She was a former agent of the ACME Detective Agency. Carmen Sandiego is based on an 80s video game!

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is a British/American animated television series in which Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life in the 22nd century Set in the 22nd century in New London, Inspector Beth Lestrade of New Scotland Yard is chasing the grotesquely deformed French rogue geneticist Martin Fenwick, when she realizes that his companion is none other than the 19th century criminal mastermind, Professor James Moriarty. They go on to discover that this is not the original Moriarty, but is in fact a clone created from cells taken from his corpse, which Sherlock Holmes had buried in a Swiss ice cave. Lestrade knows that Holmes survived and actually lived to a ripe old age and further knows that his corpse is preserved in a glass-walled, honey-filled coffin in the basement of New Scotland Yard. She takes the body from the basement and delivers it to biologist Sir Evan Hargreaves (who looks just like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) who has just invented a process of cellular rejuvenation. The biologist then uses his cellular rejuvenation technique to return life and youth to Holmes’s body so that the detective can again battle Moriarty. Holmes also returns to his Baker Street rooms, which had been preserved as a museum. Lestrade’s compu-droid reads the original Watson’s journals and assumes his name, face, voice and mannerisms in order to assist Holmes in both his crime-solving duties and his difficult assimilation to Great Britain in the 22nd century.

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Chasing The Scream

Chasing The Scream

by Johann Hari

Chasing The Scream

Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari came out in 2015. It was the inspiration for the Hulu movie Billie Holiday vs The United States. Hari questions whether or not he is an addict and decides to go searching for answers to questions he has. “Why did the drug war start, and why does it continue? Why can some people use drugs without any problems, while others can’t? What really causes addiction? What happens if you choose a radically different policy?”

Hari spent the next three years in search of answers, traveling across nine countries including: The United States, Canada, Great Britain, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Uruguay and Vietnam.

The book begins with Henry Anslinger, who began the War The On Drugs. Anslinger ran The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which later became the DEA. The Bureau was originally set up to bust bootleggers during the Prohibition, but once Alcohol became legal again, Anslinger turned his attention to drugs. He targeted Billie Holiday, who had a well known Heroin habit. Hari sees Anslinger as a hypocrite with some misguided notions. It seems that Anslinger was more motivated to stay in business and keep his job then he was to truly end addiction. In fact, Anslinger would later develop his own Morphine habit.

The repercussions of prohibiting drugs were bad. Outlawing them created more problems than it solved. It drove thousands upon thousands of people to break the law in order to feed their addiction. It drove the business of dealing drugs to the mafia, to cartels and to gangs instead of letting doctors prescribe drugs legally. The War on Drugs created more crime instead of preventing it. For over 50 years the government struggled to keep drugs off the street, but the zero tolerance approached failed miserably.

In recent years, countries around the world began to ease their restrictions on drugs and started legalizing them. Places like the Netherlands and Portugal have seen a sharp drop in crime as soon as they stopped throwing people in jail for doing drugs. Once the governments began to regulate the flow of drugs, clinics replaced jails. Freely given assistance began to help the people in need and life improved greatly in those countries. The United States has slowly followed suit with a number of states legalizing marijuana, but we still have a long way to go.

As many as 90% of people out there have tried drugs, but only 10% of them will develop a long term habit or an addiction. While there is a chemical component to addiction, chemicals do not actually hijack our brain. Addiction is more psychological than physiological. The truth is addiction is adaption to external factors in life. It is not a character flaw or a weakness or a disease. It is not you, but the cage you live in.

The number one predictor of addiction is not genetics or personality, but childhood trauma. Childhood abuse and neglect increases the likelihood of addiction. Addiction is often born out of loneliness. If someone has strong family support or a close knit community they can rely on, they are less likely to become addicts.

When we punish those who do drugs, we isolate and alienate them and that only makes it worse. The current system of dealing with addiction is broken and downright backward. Negative consequences do not deter those who seek refuge in various illegal substances. Punishment, which includes shaming them, putting them in cages and making them unemployable, traps them in their addictions.

Hari comes to the compassionate conclusion that legalization is the best way to deal with drugs. People are going to do drugs no matter what, why not make it safe and secure for them? Why not give them the tools to help themselves rather than destroy their lives? Recovery from drug addiction must be a Social Recovery. It is not up to the individual to be strong all on their own. We need to create safe spaces for those who are struggling and provide support, not punishment. We must change how society treats drug addiction and drugs.

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YouTube came out in 2005. At the time, I didn’t give it much though. It was mostly people uploading video clips of random things like cat videos and pranks. My oldest child was two and my youngest hadn’t been born yet, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. Several years went by before I checked it out.

Today YouTube has over 2 billion monthly users. 74% of adult use YouTube. It isn’t just for kids, although 80% of parents say their kids younger than 11 years old are watch YouTube frequently. Slightly more males watch YouTube than females, but it is pretty even. The US makes up 16% of all YouTube traffic, which is considerable. YouTube is second only to Facebook in terms of Social Media usage.

When I finally logged on and explored, I found that I loved the fact that I could watch all my favorite music videos via Vevo. It had been something like ten years since MTV had stopped playing videos and I had missed them. Later, I had a book publisher create a trailer for my book My Perfect Drug, which was pretty cool. I have been on YouTube, but I am not on it with any regularity. Despite that, I have become familiar with it because of my kids.

When my kids first got online I had them play games on the PBS Kids website or the Nickelodeon website. My daughter discovered Doll Divine and spent hours designing not just outfits, but characters.

It was probably 2014-2015 when they both discovered YouTube. Now they have it running in the background constantly. It reminds me of how when I am home alone that I put the TV on just to have some background noise. My kids no longer care about Disney, Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. They don’t watch cable any longer. Instead, their entertainment is primarily YouTube these days, with some Netflix, Hulu and Disney + thrown in occasionally.

YouTube has evolved over the years and there are millions of channels run by people with a wide variety of interests and topics. My kids began by watching mostly Minecraft videos. They learned how to navigate the Minecraft Universe by watching other people play. Some of their favorites are ForgeLab, Fundy, Good Times with Scare, Grian, Iskall85, Jeracraft, Markiplier, MumboJumbo, Ph1LZA, Sbeev, TechnoBlade, TrixyBlox, WadZee and Xisumavoid.

This is no surprise given that there are over 200 million active gaming channels on YouTube. Minecraft videos are, by far and away, the most popular followed by Roblox.

Now my kids have expanded and diversified their YouTube experience. My oldest also watches videos about politics, cartoons, movie reviews, kill counts, cooking, doll making, crafts, LGBTQ topics, art, science, history and other things. My youngest watches a lot of science videos and cat videos.

Some of the YouTube Channels they subscribe to are: Actual Joke, Alex Myers, Amanda the Jedi, ASMR Bakery, Cinema Therapy, Corpse Husband, Creep Show Art, Cynic Snacks, David Seymour, Dollightful, Dominic Noble, Draw Free Show, Evan and Kaylen, How to Cook That, Illuninaughti, Jamie Dodger, Jazza, Jimmy Snow, Just Stop, Kathus, Kristina Maoine, Kiwi, Kyle Hill, Lavender Town, Legal Eagle, Lil Nas X, Love Gone Gulch, Observe, Philosophy Tube, Rach Loves Life, Saberspark, Sad Milk, Safiya and Tyler, Sam Collins, Samantha Lux, Titania, The Theorists, The Queer Kiwi, Thought Slime, Trix Mattel, Vizziepop’s Helluva Boss, Wild Spartanz, Xanderhal, Xian Jay Zhao and others.

I generally don’t watch these videos, but I hear all about them! My kids will tell me about their favorite content and discuss their favorite channels. I have become familiar with how YouTube works with the monetization and algorithms. I even helped my youngest create his own channel.

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