Thursday, April 24, 2014

Enter: Third World Sun

I put up a post on the Launch Pad blog today about the state of the band and what is rising from its ashes. Rather than re-post the whole thing here, I'll just link to it.

http://launchpadtheblog.blogspot.com/

More info shortly.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Spring Break Blues

So here we are. The last day of school for Melody's first school break since Lori passed away.

And, even though I get pretty decent days off, I'm faced with a good month or so of Melody being out of school with me still at work. Tthere are some exceptions. I'm taking some time off around her birthday and right before she goes back. But it's nowhere near a month. It's more like three or four days spread around here and there.

And so I'm faced with what the heck I'm going to do with her during that time.

Fortunately, we've got family.

Of course, that doesn't always translate into the "free babysitter" that it might seem. My mom recently (yesterday) had surgery to remove a lump of cancer from her breast. So she's in recovery mode now. And that leaves my sister who, thankfully, works from home. But she's used to having my mom watch her three-year-old so she can ACTUALLY do work from home. Nevertheless, it seems that Melody will be spending at least the remainder of this first week at her Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Joe's house. She'll have a blast with the cousins... far more fun than she would have with me as I go to work every day and put her... someplace.

But then that leaves me alone every night. And that's when things in the house get somewhat haunting.

I'm in the midst of changing some things around.

The room that was formerly Lori's mom's room (when she passed away, Lori's brother informed me that his mom wasn't my problem and took her to a residential-care facility) is now being transformed into an office for me. It's a lot of work to put bookshelves, books, desk, other furniture, computer, high-speed access, etc. into there. And, although I'm making progress, it's slow going. Perhaps I'll make progress in there on the nights when Melody is staying with her cousins.

I'm also planning on changing around the bedroom. As it is, it's pretty much the way it was the day Lori went to the hospital. The exception is that Lori's brown "venting" chair is now in my office. But otherwise, everything remains intact. Late at night when I'm in that big bed by myself, it does indeed haunt me. I believe changing the furniture around will help with those feelings.

I've also started replacing some of the artwork in the house. Not the photos. I'm keeping those all up for now. I want don't want Melody to feel as if I'm moving on too quickly. And, indeed, I don't want to move on too quickly. But I also need to do certain things so as to not torture myself as well.

As for Lori's things... her clothes, jackets, hats, boots/shoes, etc., I haven't really thought about that. I don't need both of our matching dressers. But since they match, I don't really want to get rid of one of them either. My brother, Jim, suggested putting hers in the closet, an idea that I like. Perhaps some strategic folding and stacking, and I may even be able to get a good amount of Lori's stuff inside, at least for the short term. I'm keeping her jewelry for Melody.

That brings me to what I'm doing for therapy. Not much. I'm going to work. I'm attempting to resume my writing but ramping back into A Stranger At The Gallows has been slow going. The thing that I have found that has best helped me cope so far is music.

In the aftermath of Lori's passing, the remaining members of Launch Pad (myself, Scott Johnson and Randy Scott) got together and jammed. We wanted to see if we were going to stay together and keep it going without Lori. At the time, the consensus seemed to be that we would pick up where we had left off and try to move forward without Lori. We didn't think she would have wanted us to stop and we all wanted to carry on, partly in her memory and partly because we still wanted to play together. However, as Randy said at the time, "No matter what we do, it won't be the same without Lori."

And he was right.

As time has passed, it has become somewhat evident that Launch Pad probably will not continue forward. Lori was the heart of that band. Launch Pad was born of both of us. Had she and I divorced or either of us had left the band, I don't think it would have been Launch Pad anymore. And even though Lori didn't really choose to leave, she did. She left the entire planet! And it's just not Launch Pad anymore.

So last week, Scott stopped by the house. We were talking about maybe writing something but nothing really popped. We went down into The Underground, just he and I. And we messed around a little. Still nothing really struck us. So I broke out a book of songs I had been working on over the past few years... stuff I thought I might record or do outside of Launch Pad if ever an opportunity presented itself. These songs are pretty much complete. Chord progressions, lyrics, melody, etc. I started playing the first one, "Collapse," and Scott took a liking to it. The chords were right on the page so it was nothing for him to start playing along. Then we moved to another. Before we knew it, we had gone through five songs. Scott had some suggestions for a couple of them and I jotted his name down alongside mine.

At that moment, I decided that the lifespan of Launch Pad was tied to the length of Lori's life.

Something new was going to happen. Scott came over again this past Saturday. I think the idea was that we might go back through some of those songs and flesh them out a bit. Instead, Scott started playing an infectious riff. I added a bass run under it and we jammed on it for awhile. When we came up for air, Scott was like, "Do you wanna do something with that?" I said, "Let's write some words right now. What should it be about?" We agreed that something we had both encountered in various bands is the feeling of being held hostage by the lack of commitment on the part of other band members. And thus, "Hostage" was born. The whole song was pounded out in a half hour... maybe an hour. Scott was stoked. I was happy. We were now up to roughly six all-new songs!

We still had no drummer. It was just Scott and me. Randy didn't seem interested. We made a few calls... Linda (our previous drummer), Robert (our almost drummer one time)... it just wasn't panning out. Scott and I made a trip to the music store and I used the trip to upgrade our PA. And then, Mike called Scott. Mike was Launch Pad's drummer for roughly a year before Scott joined and perhaps two more after Scott joined (I don't remember... maybe it wasn't quite that long). Our chemistry was undeniable. In fact, Mike played drums on all of the songs on the first Launch Pad CD. Indeed, I considered just dropping all the way out of Launch Pad when Mike left because I didn't really want to do it without him. As a bass player, I guess I get pretty attached to my drummers. So Mike called Scott, who told him what we were doing. Mike couldn't make it over on Saturday but Scott followed up with him on Monday and now we're going to get together this Saturday with an eye toward perhaps pulling this thing together. The idea is that we'll do (at least) these six new songs and port over some of the Launch Pad songs that I primarily sang (Has Beens, Do You Got The Stones?, Live Life, Bring It On, etc.) and the one Scott wrote/performed (Shades of Gray) to start with. That's plenty of material. And I'm sure we'll write more.

So my somewhat melancholy beginning of this post now morphs into something hopeful.

And I will leave it on that note.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Photo Loop Of Lori

The following is a link to the photo loop that I put together for Lori's funeral reception.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17eHJkib02g&feature=youtu.be

Here We Go Again

Okay. So I just suffered a devastating loss roughly a month and a half ago. And, in assessing my goals and my plans and shifting my focus, I've decided to resume this blog, as well as my nonfiction blog, Zooming Thru Life. So this blog will be where my love of words and need to rant will often collide and runneth over onto the page. Posts will be frequent if not regular. Today, I started with posting my wife's eulogy from her March 1 funeral. I'm still reeling and so is our daughter. And I'm sure some of that will be fodder for future posts.

I continue to write and publish. Planetfall should be out this summer. That is a huge milestone for me. A Stranger On Bay Street came out late last year and the second book in the series, A Stranger At The Gallows (technically a chronological prequel) should release near the end of the year (unless it doesn't). More on that stuff as I continue to blog.

And the music... without Lori, I'm not sure where Launch Pad stands. But I will continue to write and perform and more news on that will be forthcoming from this blog as well.

So please spread the word: The Carhart Blog is back (as if anyone cares). Tell your friends, subscribe, keep coming back, contribute to the discussion, etc. Hope to see you around.

- Paul M. Carhart

In Loving Memory of Lori Esther Hedgpeth Carhart

February 25, 1970 – February 18, 2014

I possess, according to my late wife, a trait she termed as Carhart Confidence. I don’t suppose it was a compliment. Lori was shy and reserved. She did not like to draw attention to herself. I, on the other hand, don’t have a problem standing out. Indeed, one of our favorite lines was Jim Carrey’s zinger from the end of the film Bruce Almighty: “Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” And so today I invoke said confidence to stand before you and say a few things about my wife, Lori. I trust that she will be rolling her eyes somewhere in the great beyond.

In the late spring of 2002, thanks to the conspiratorial ways of Lori’s dad and my sister, Lori and I began talking long distance between California and Colorado where I was living at the time. She had the sweetest voice and was almost shy. But she was also very smart and had her own ideas about things. That summer I flew back to California to visit my family and boy did my arms hurt.

I took a day to meet Lori and go out to lunch with her. Lunch turned into a movie and dinner. I remember thinking that night that, if she made an effort to drive me to the airport the next day, surely she was interested. I was relieved to discover that she not only picked me up, but she also took me to a little park where we could stroll hand-in-hand and chat before she dropped me at the airport. Before I got on my plane, I endeavored to kiss her into her soul. I didn’t want her to forget me in my absence. I told her, “You’re making me not want to leave.” And it was true.

A few weeks later, Lori visited me in Colorado. By Thanksgiving, we were engaged. Lori was a first grade teacher when we met and she intended to finish out the school year before we were to be married. Over spring break 2003, Lori and her parents brought all of her belongings out to the small home I had rented for us in Colorado. On August 2, 2003 we tied the knot. Barely a month later, Melody was growing inside of her mommy.

At the time, Lori’s dad had said something to the effect that he thought maybe we should have waited a bit to have a baby. But Lori had always wanted to have children and we were already in our thirties. In many ways, we were making up for lost time. That was probably for the best. For how were we to know we would only have ten years together?

Indeed, we were schooled early into our marriage about the brevity of our time here on earth. My dad passed away roughly two years after we got married. And Lori’s dad left us a mere six months later. Had we waited, neither of them would have got to hold Melody. And, although she doesn’t really remember them, Melody would not have go to meet them either.

Lori was almost mule-headed when she set her sights on something. To her, having a family was synonymous with owning a house. And what started as viewing model homes as no-money fun quickly became a campaign and Lori was leading the charge. I remember waking up one Sunday morning to find the bed empty. I stumbled into the front of our rental house and there she was at the dining room table, pencil in-hand. “I figured out how we can get that one that we liked yesterday,” she said as she showed me the paper. “We should go back over there today.” And so, even before Melody was born, we had purchased our first home in Colorado Springs, only a few short minutes from my job.

Lori’s pregnancy with Melody was difficult, to say the least. She was plagued with high blood pressure that the doctors had a very hard time getting under control. Ultimately, the doctors told Lori to have the baby early. Basically, they gave up. On April 19, two months before her due date, Melody started her habit of getting up early that continues to this day. Even that was difficult, resulting in Melody in the NICU in one hospital and Lori in the ICU in another hospital and me darting between the two locations, trying to keep two females happy, which we all know is pretty much an impossible task. The entire experience made such a negative impact on Lori that she wished to never darken the door of a hospital or doctor’s office again.

From the start, Melody was the center of Lori’s world and this would be true for the rest of Lori’s life. Over the course of a series of moves, first from Colorado to California and then all around the Long Beach area, ultimately landing us downtown, Lori made Melody the primary focus of our family. Especially after we lost our second daughter mid-pregnancy, focusing on Melody was the only way Lori could move on. There were other miscarriages following, each breaking Lori’s heart all the more. And each time, she redoubled her focus on the systematic and ever-increasing spoiling of Melody. Indeed, even when shopping on a shoestring, she would inevitability find the cutest stuffed animal in the store. And she would say to me, “Daddy, we only have one little girl,” which can be translated as, “we should buy this for Melody even though we just bought one almost identical to it for her yesterday.” And this was how an entire top bunk was transformed into a plush zoo.

Lori also cherished the arts and her worship of God. And she dedicated herself to proving that the former could be used to serve the latter. And so when we stepped down from leading worship at various churches, we started Launch Pad: A band and ministry that was about God without being about church and churchiness. Musically, we were influenced by everything that had ever influenced any one in the band and yet we sounded like none of our influences because we weren’t trying to sound like anyone but ourselves. We structured ourselves almost like a jam band so Lori could have the sonic canvas required for her voice to soar in absolute freedom. It was true that our band wasn’t for everyone, both onstage and beyond the stage. We cycled through drummers as if we were actually Spinal Tap. And not everyone “got it.” But that didn’t stop Lori. As usual, once she set her mind to something, she intended to see it through.

And so was born the monthly Blackfriars Theatre gatherings in our home where we would play the typical Launch Pad set. People could worship, dance, rock out or whatever their heart desired. And afterwards, we would do an open mic session (or three) with guitars and vocals. Usually backed up by Launch Pad’s rhythm section, people would mess around with their favorite songs or even original material. It was a great way to connect and to show artistic support. I believe this was the direction we were meant to go in.

However, the realization of this vision was cut tragically short. On the morning of February 6, 2014, just five days after what would become Lori’s final house concert, Melody’s mommy informed me that she thought she had pinched a nerve in her foot during the previous morning’s run. In reality, only 19 days before her 44th birthday, she had suffered a devastating stroke, the ultimate effects of which we would not know for many days. Twelve days later, my sweet Lori was no longer with us on this earth. Just as I had not wanted to leave her at the airport, I’m convinced that she would not have wanted to leave Melody and me behind.

But the choice wasn’t hers.

In the end, I believe Lori knew something was wrong with her. She had lost sensation and mobility in her right leg and it was creeping into her right arm. She begged me not to send her to the hospital, but to pray for her instead. As I finished praying, the two of us on our couch in the house that we had worked so hard to restore, her head lay upon my shoulder and my head rested against hers. I said to her the simplest of words, “I love you, Lori.” There was no hesitation in her reply, “I love you too.”

That was the last coherent conversation we had.

Lori always wanted to have a lot of children. But we were only ever able to have Melody. But in the life beyond, Lori is now the mommy of our other daughter, Lyric, as well as three other miscarried children. Now she can finally be the mommy she always wanted to be.

Naturally, there was much more to our life together than what I’ve outlined here. If you make it to the reception, you can view many pictures, each one worth a thousand un-uttered words. And I haven’t even got into the dog! There were so many things Lori still wanted to do. She longed to go to Ireland and Scotland. She looked forward to celebrating the 100th birthday of our Craftsman home that we’ve been restoring for the past six years. I’m sure she would not have passed up another chance to roll her eyes at me for some perceived infraction of etiquette. I know she wanted to continue to sing and play and worship with the band. Most of all, I know she wanted to see Melody grow up, go to college, get married and have children of her own.

And perhaps she can still witness these things from where she is. I don’t know. If so, I’m sure she’ll roll her eyes at me more than a few times in the years to come. But seriously, she’s left me with some pretty big shoes to fill. And I wear a thirteen, folks. She was the best possible mommy to Melody and she will be utterly missed by both of us and by everyone who ever met her. All I can do is promise to take the baton and finish the race the best I know how.

If I could say one final thing to Lori, it would be this: “You have been the best mommy. I did my best to love you and to protect you. Now I have to be the best daddy and love and protect Melody. Your daughter loves you and we will never forget you. And we will do our best to not disappoint you.”

And to Lori’s and my colleagues, friends and family who have gathered here today, I thank you for your time and support. I only wish to leave you with this final parting thought:

Life is a short, wonderful, devastating adventure. Live it well. Protect it. Feel everything. Listen deeply. Forgive often, even if not asked. And love with all your heart. There just isn't time to do anything less.

- Paul M. Carhart, Lori's husband

Friday, November 05, 2010

End of 2010 Update

So it's been nearly a year since I last posted my "ode to Lori" missive on this blog. We've been pretty busy this year. So much so that I haven't had much of an opportunity to update this blog. So here I go...

WRITING

This was the year of finally setting things straight. For many years, I've been looking forward to the re-release of my Fairlight novels. I had a contract with Blademaster Press to bring them back out (as well as some other books) but, unfortunately, that fell through. Nevertheless, thorugh other means, this year has so-far seen the re-release of Chance for the Future and Hope for Tomorrow and I'm hopeful that Faith in the Past will be available before the holidays. Also this year, the wide-release of One of the Girls with a slightly re-worked cover (cover art is still provided by the inestimable Kris Cartwright) and the first-ever release of my first non-fiction work, Zooming Thru Life. All of these books are available in trade paperback from both the publisher and/or Amazon.com as well as in a variety of digital eBook formats. More information can be found at paulcarhart.com.

I'm currently making the final edits on A Stranger On Bay Street (the first installment in the Worlds Collide series), which I hope will be released in 2011. And I'm also editing Plunge Into Eden, the first novel in the Planetfall trilogy, which I also hope will be released by the end of 2011.

After that, I hope to write the second and third Planetfall books and then we'll see where we'll go from there.

LAUNCH PAD

Our band had some ups and downs this year but I'm particularly excited about it right now because we have rehearsal in a few hours and a gig at the Long Beach East Village Farmers Market tomorrow morning (11:30 am). Earlier, I posted details of what we've been through as a band on the Launch Pad blog. We've also been getting some play on ThePrimeSpot show at KBEACH.org in support of our upcoming gig. And we hope to play more frequent gigs and continue recording as we go into 2011.

You can find out more about Launch Pad at our MySpace and Facebook pages.

MELODY

Melody is now six years old and in the first grade. She's in the accelerated class and is holding her own quite well. She's also taking violin and is rapidly improving. Lori continues to be her teacher at home, guiding her through academics, behavior and music while still helping to care for her mom. One thing I sorta miss is reading to Melody. Nowadays, she reads to ME!

WORK

Work has been steady this year and more secure than in 2009 (or at least it has felt that way). The company I work for seems to be making positive strides in stability and growth/expansion. So I'm hopeful that I can remain downtown, in close (walking distance) proximity to our home and Melody's school. It's nice to have Lori pick me up for lunch every once in awhile and I like being able to make it to Melody's school activities (and parent-teacher conferences... which is coming up! Yikes!).

SCI-FI

So I'm still walking to work. In April, it'll have been three years since I started that. I read the whole way both directions. Lori even got me a small reading lamp for when I'm coming home in the dark (when it gets dark earlier). Lately, I've been catching up on my Star Wars novels. Currently I'm reading the Republic Commando series that Karen Traviss penned. They're quite different than the standard Luke-saves-the-day variety of novels and I'm enjoying that difference.

I know I've outlined my thoughts on certain TV shows (mostly Sci-Fi themed) in the past. I'll try to quickly encapsulate where I'm at with TV right now. Maybe I'll follow up with a more detailed post later.

There are only three new shows I've started this year. They are The Event (NBC) on Mondays, No Ordinary Family (ABC) on Tuesdays and Undercovers (NBC) on Wednesdays. Surprisingly (based on my track record), two of the three have apparently warranted a full season order. Undercovers, apparently, has been whacked (despite J.J. Abrams' attachment). Oh, and both Lori and I liked Covert Affairs (USA) from this past summer. We both also like the BBC import Sherlock (a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes) currently airing on PBS (there are three 90 minute episodes produced to-date... the third will air as part of Masterpiece Mystery this Sunday on most PBS stations and this Thursday on the Los Angeles-based KCET).

As for ongoing (not new) shows, I'm still watching Chuck (NBC) and Castle (ABC) on Mondays. Lori really digs Castle (and I suspect she has a bit of a crush on Mr. Fillion). I was following Caprica (SyFy) on Tuesdays until they pulled the plug on it (promising to air the final five episodes in 2011). Thursdays belong to Fringe. And on Fridays, I'm still holding on to my CW Smallville (supposedly the final season) and Supernatural block. Smallville, in particular, is getting quite good as they spiral toward Clark Kent inevitably becoming Superman. Also on Fridays, I follow Sanctuary (SyFy) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network) which has grown on me more with each season.

Other shows I watch: Psych and Burn Notice (both USA) are supposedly coming back this month with new episodes and Eureka and Warehouse 13 (both SyFy) are both supposed to have Holiday-themed episodes before returning in 2011.

So I guess that's it for now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Still Ticking

It's been a long time since either Lori or I have posted anything here but I thought I might get back to it. Stay tuned for a rundown of what's up and what's coming.

In the meantime, I posted to our band's blog earlier today. That'll tell you at least what's been happening from a music and ministry perspective.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Teaching Photoshop Again

Just a quick note to say that I'm teaching a brief course on retouching and color-shifting in Photoshop today at The Designory in Long Beach.

It's a talented group of designers that I'll be talking to, so I'm sure it'll be fun.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What I'm Thankful For:
Lori, My Brilliant Wife

I know this is a little late, but we've been through a lot over the past few years and, late or not, I wanted to finally say what I've always meant to say. Besides, Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick every year anyway. Nowadays, we seem to, as a culture, go immediately from trick-or-treating to stuffing stockings. Thanksgiving is important. It should not be forgotten.

So I'm going to take just a moment to give thanks for Lori. As a writer, the best way I know how to do this is with words.

I used the term "brilliant" in the headline and that was not by accident. The word "brilliant" has many different meanings. And they all apply to Lori. Shall we explore them?

1 (of light) very bright and radiant.
(of a color) brightly and intensely vivid.


Lori is definately bright. She's whip-smart and not much gets past her. She was a first-grade teacher for seven years and a substitute teacher before (and after) that. Now she's Melody's teacher at home and boy does she have her work cut out for her. Melody herself is a brilliant little handful!

Lori is also radiant. Her smile is like a sunrise and her eyes gleam, especially when she's locked onto something that she wants. Her strong and vivid personality, often hidden to others because she's somewhat shy, is a primary reason we have acheived, as a family, as much as we have in the six short years since we've been married. I think vivid could also be used to describe the scope of Lori's emotions. She feels things strongly... passionately. When she's happy, she's joyful. When she's sorrowful, she's in, to quote Anne Shirley, "the depths of despair." She possesses an artistic temperment which leads me to the next definition for "brilliant."

2 (of light) outstanding; impressive.

Lori impressed me the first time we met. She's smart, savvy and classy. Just being seen next to her bumps me up the social ladder by at least two rungs (she'd probably say three). She's smarter than the average girl, which might intimidate some guys. She's also taller than the average girl, especially in heels or boots. I never wanted to date someone who could kick my butt. And while I don't think Lori really could, I don't think I'd ever want to give her a run for her money. She's like Wonder Woman and she's got the sexy legs to prove it.

As a song writer, Lori continues to impress me. While I'm sort of the de facto wordsmith of the family, providing my fair share of lyrics to our songs, Lori's lyrics are real and touch preciesely where they need to. Sometimes she (wisely) asks for my help with the lyrics. Another place she impresses. Guys never ask for help. But Lori truly collaborates with me. Of course, her knowledge of music far surpasses mine. Anything I write in the realm of musical notes will be rudimentary. While I can put down broad-stroke musical phrases, Lori's chords are what shade the music. Every time I think I know where she's going to go, she surprises me and pulls something else out of her magic bag of tricks.

Brit., informal. very good, excellent or marvelous

But it's her vocal performances that are truly marvelous. Lori, a fan of everything from rap to classic rock to brit pop to black gospel can belt it out like the best of them. She has a great range and a strong and solid delivery. Her passion shines through when she's really giving it her all. And, when she's had a good night's sleep, I'd put her pipes up there with Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey or Christina Aguleria. I'm not joking when I say she's our band's lead singer. For anyone else in the group, myself included, to claim that title would be ridiculous.

Perhaps most impressive and marvelous of all is that Lori agreed to be my wife. She consented to go on this journey called life with me. We didn't always know where it would take us or what we'd go through. But we're doing it together. She's the sounding board for all my novels and short stories. Nonfiction too. She's the believer in my dreams and the dreamer of many herself. And, even though I don't always agree, I've learned to always listen to her. She has unparallelled insight. She sees the glass as half-full when I'm often tempted to turn the thing over and dump out the paltry contents.

She puts brightness and sparkle into each of my days.

If that doesn't describe brilliance, then I don't know what does.

Thank you, God, for my brilliant wife.

And thank you, Lori, for sticking with me.

TV Mid-Season Round-UP

Naturally, there's more going on in our lives than what I watch on TV. We've finally wrapped up our financial situation with our house and we're for the most part very please with the results and we're currently all decorated for Christmas. Melody is doing very well in school. She just needs to be a little less chatty. My writing and publishing venture is beginning to bloom. And the band/worship work Lori and I have been working on since stepping down from The Connection is finally coming to fruition.

But this post is about my favorite TV shows and where we're at with them. Most of them have come to some sort of mid-season finale. And some won't start at all until January. So I'm gonna start with Mondays and go from there.

Monday

Heroes

I'm sorta tired of justifying my continued devotion to this show. I will agree that it hasn't ever been as good as it was the first season. But it hasn't been as bad as a lot of fanboys have made it out to be. It's still pretty cool and the Thanksgiving episode was perhaps the best of the season. The last episode, in which a key character finally bites the dust, was also good I thought and I'm interested to see where they're going to take it from here. So count me in for the season. Whether it goes out with a bang or gets another chance to re-capture season one's glory has yet to be determined. I say, if they can't step the game up to season one levels, perhaps it's better to go out altogether. Heroes returns January 4 with a two-hour episode. The following week, it will move to its new time at 9 pm (following new episodes of Chuck).

Castle

As a writer, it's easy to like Castle. It's about a writer (Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame) in the vein of Stephen King and he teams up with a pretty detective to solve crimes and get inspiration for his crime novels. Naturally, snarky quips and romantic-tinted banter abound. It's fun and it's a show that Lori will watch with me and actually enjoy. There's a new episode next week so I don't know if it will slow down through the holidays or not. Mondays at 10 pm on ABC.

Still To Come: Chuck

Chuck is the guy who could have been so much more except he got kicked out of Stanford and wound up heading up the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More (read: Geek Squad at Best Buy). It would have been a bleak existance had an ex-college buddy who was secretly a spy not sent Chuck the Intersec, a high-tech computer that holds all the country's secrets. With a mere click of a mouse, Chuck opened the e-mail containing the Interesec (that's some serious file compression to send something like that via an e-mail attachment) and the next thing Chuck knows is that he's downloaded the whole thing into his head. To protect him while he's harboring this supercomputer, Chuck's been assigned the kick-butt Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah, a female spy who poses as his girlfriend. Sparks fly between Chuck and Sarah but they can't be together while he's got the Intersec in his brain. At the end of last season, Chuck finally got said computer out of his head only to end up downloading the new version of it into his head. Now, in addition to knowing all of the country's secrets, Chuck also has new physical abilities, Matrix-style. Clips for the new season look promising. They're upping the ante by bringing Chuck more into the spy world, it appears. While Chuck has always been fun, it'll be nice to turn the formula on its ear a little. Chuck's third season starts on Sunday, January 10 with two episodes and then moves to it's usual Monday timeslot on January 11 at 8 pm.

Tuesday

V

Yes, it's the re-imagining of that cheesetackular mini-series from the 80s that I loved so much as a youth. So far, it's fairly good. I'll admit to not having watched the latest episode yet. They only showed four episodes before the holidays. Supposedly, it's going to come back early next year, although ABC has yet to set a return date.

Still To Come: Lost

Do I really have to explain Lost? I'm not even sure if I could. This is the final season, so everything is supposed to wrap up. Last year, Juliet exploded an atomic bomb in the 70s, supposedly blowing up our heroes and potentially re-setting the timeline. A lot of returning characters who are supposed to be dead are set to make appearances this year so if you've followed the adventures of survivors of Oceanic 815 and The Island this far, there's really no reason not to complete your journey. Lost is set to return on ABC on February 2.

Wednesday

Still To Come: Psych

I can't say how much I love this comedic fake-psychic murder-mystery series. It's peppered with quips, snark and 80s pop culture references. The characters are well-drawn and hilarious. As long as they can keep it funny and fun, I'll keep watching. Psych starts back up on it's new night (Wednesdays) on January 27 on USA.

Still To Come: Human Target

Haven't seen this yet. It's based on a comic book that I haven't read but the premise seems like fun. A guy saves people by becoming them. I'm gonna give it a shot, despite the fact that it's on FOX (see Dollhouse below). The first episode of Human Target will air at 8 pm on Sunday, January 17 on FOX before it moves to its usual timeslot, Wednesdays at 8 pm starting January 20.

Thursday

FlashForward

Billed as the New Lost by ABC prior to its debut, FlashForward had a lot of things going for it including Ralph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love). But even that couldn't keep my wife's attention. And apparently the masses agree. It's been sinking in the ratings for weeks now. I'm still watching it. There are momemnts of promise. But part of the problem I think is that the biggest event that will ever happen on this show happened in the pilot (everyone on the planet blacked out for 3 minutes, 17 seconds and caught a glimpse of their future). It's hard to have twisty surprises when the biggest thing that could happen already happened and we're basically just watching everyone's reaction to it. Sure, the same arguement could be made of Lost, but what our friends found on The Island was so unexpected and bizarre that the writers were able to continually provide surprises. So far, the biggest surprise was that the future isn't necessarily written in stone. Or maybe it is. Or something.

Fringe

From J.J Abrams, architect of the once-great (and always good) Alias and re-imaginer of the always watchable Star Trek, comes a worthy heir to X-Files. This year is more of the same from last year. Except now we know we're dealing with an alternate universe, which, outside of Sliders, is a rare subject matter for TV, even genre TV. The writing is always solid and watching John Noble's Vincent Price-esque performances are always worth the 60 minutes to watch.

Supernatural

From the outset, I liked this show because it didn't shy away from the fact that there are supernatural elements to our world. The two brothers drove their souped up Impala cross-country every week to fight ghosts and goblins and save the innocent while searching for their dad. Then they moved on to some other obscure stuff. They found their dad and then he was killed off. Around that time, they started dispatching demons. Then angels started showing up. And now the angels have ushered in the apocolyspe, Lucifer is on the loose and one angel, Castiel, is hoping to bring God onboard. While the show definately plays fast and loose with Biblical mythology, it hasn't been disappointing in the storytelling department. I highly recommend it, but only for those probalby over about 16 years of age. The Apcolypse picks back up when Supernatural returns on January 14 to the CW.

Friday

Monk

Adrian Monk has had a good run. But now we're down to the finale. Supposedly he'll solve his wife's murder. Finally. Check it out this Friday. 9 pm. USA. Note: The first part of the finale encores at 8 pm.

Dollhouse

Against all odds, this show (from Joss Whedon of Buffy, Angel and Firefly fame) about people who have their minds wiped and imprinted with whatever rich clients want received a second season. Unfortunately, ratings were still dismal and FOX has cancelled it. Fortunately, they're going to air the remaining episodes. This Friday, they're airing two back-to-back. Then the schedule goes sorta haywire but they're promising to air them all.

Smallville

No. Clark Kent isn't Superman yet. But he's something they call The Blur (I guess cause he's so fast no one can see him... last year he was The Red-Blue Blur because he always wears red and blue clothes. Get it? Like Superman?). But now clones of Kryptonians have been released on earth, including Zod (the cloning was done when he was a major though) and Clark's going to have to take him down before the season ends. Oh yeah. And Clark's finally over Lana (now that she's off the show) and is finally romancing Lois Lane. Smallville's actually been pretty good in this, its ninth year. Can you believe it? Nine years! And they're shooting for a tenth! Whatever the case, The Blur will return with new episodes of Smallville starting January 22.

Sanctuary

I'm still taping this show every week and I still have not seen one episode of it. Maybe over the holiday hiatuses, I'll be able to check it out.

Still To Come: Caprica

This Battlestar Galactica (the reboot) prequel series stars Eric Stolz and Esai Morales. Sounds like a good mix to me.

Saturday

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

These half-hour shockingly good glimpses into the Prequel-Era Star Wars universe actually debut on The Cartoon Network on Friday nights but I have too much to watch on Fridays. So I tape the encores on Saturday morning at roughly 8:30 am (sometimes it switches to 9 am for some reason). I told Lori once that if I was twelve I would really love this show. As it is, I really like it alot.

Sunday

The Legend Of The Seeker

Fantasy on TV done right. I don't know how close it hews to the original Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind, but if this kind of stuff would have come out when I was a teenager, I would have never missed a minute. Hey, I don't miss any minutes now either. Hmmm... The show is syndicated so it's time and day will probably vary from region to region. In my area, it's on at 4 pm on Sundays on the CW.

So there you have it. Plenty to catch up on. Plenty to enjoy for the future. And I didn't even touch on Eureka or Burn Notice.