Category Archives: television

T is for Titans


Uncharacteristically, I was flipping through the TV channels recently. This is highly unusual, because generally, when I watch television, I go to a particular show, usually prerecorded. I came across this 2000 movie I saw in the theaters, Remember the Titans. Part of the IMBD synopsis:
“It’s 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia and successful high school football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) has just been deprived of the head coaching job at the new integrated T.C. Williams High School to make way for equally successful black coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington). Yoast debates pursuing opportunities elsewhere, but when most of his white players vow to sit out the season unless he coaches, he changes his mind and stays on as Boone’s assistant.”
The Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: “An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it’s also well-crafted and features terrific performances.”

Well, yes, predictable, including having the Big Game. I enjoyed it well enough, and it at least tried to tackle the issue of race.

Looking back at it, though, I noticed an interesting coincidence Continue reading T is for Titans

30-Day Challenge: Day 2: Favorite Movie

Considering all of the movies I’ve seen, all the GREAT movies I’ve ever seen, it is surprisingly easy for me to pick my favorite:

Annie Hall (1977).

It was my touchstone picture for a number of years. I saw it four times in the movie theater, and it was one of the first films I purchased on VHS.

It’s the roller coaster in Coney Island, which I loved as a child. It’s early Christopher Walken, bizarre as he would later become.

The opening of the film was more story, fewer jokes, my kind of humor. It reminded me of seeing Woody Allen on Ed Sullivan in the 1960s. The film also features Paul Simon, one of my music icons of that decade.

I related to Alvy Singer. Continue reading 30-Day Challenge: Day 2: Favorite Movie

Now (Don't) Cut That Out!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the classic last episode of the TV series Newhart, which the local CBS in the Albany-Schenectady, NY area cut off 30 seconds too soon. Watch Bob Newhart talk about the Last Newhart.

It got me to thinking about TV events that were interrupted. Surely, one of the most significant is the so-called Heidi Bowl, which I was ALSO watching. Continue reading Now (Don't) Cut That Out!

No, I'm NOT Doing Kill Your TV Week

The annual tradition of encouraging people to forgo their television viewing is upon us again. Frankly, I had forgotten this until my wife sent an e-mail.

Have you thought about how much TV you have watched this year? I think you will be surprised to see the statistics on this web site. For example the number of hours the average youth spends watching TV in a year is 1500 hours! YIKES!

National Turn off the TV week begins today. See if you can challenge yourself and your children to “turn off” to TV and “turn on” to reading!

This is all well and good. The problem is this: I LIKE TV. I don’t get to watch it all that often, sharing it with The Wife and the Daughter. Not that the Daughter watches it all that much either. She watches maybe 15 minutes in the morning, when she’s getting her hair done, then less than a half hour at night when she takes her medicines, including using her nebulizer. The average youth may watch over 1500 hours a year, but our youth sees less than 300. And all of it, on PBS Kids and Nick, Jr. with some legitimate educational content; I’m actually all right with that. In fact, in honor of Earth Day, Nick, Jr. is going to have a series of new shows on the topic which I had recorded for her.

So when the Wife came home Monday night and said to the Daughter, “Hey, how would you like it if I read you a story while you nebulize instead of watching TV,” and the Daughter frowned and said, “I don’t want to do that,” I was a bit sympathetic to the Daughter. I told the Wife that she had to sell the concept. So, a half hour later, AFTER I HAD WATCHED THE NEWS, BTW, the Wife repeated what she said before. The Daughter said, “Daddy doesn’t want to stop watching his news, does he?” Well, no, actually he does not.

By “selling it”, I mean to find the key to MOTIVATE the Daughter not to want to watch TV. There was this article a book review, really, in TIME magazine a couple months ago. Regarding Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the piece begins: “Whether you’re a manager, a parent or a civic leader, getting people to change can be tricky business. In Switch, brothers Chip and Dan Heath–authors of the best-selling Made to Stick–survey efforts to shape human behavior in search of what works.

“Lesson No. 1: tell people what you want them to do in a way that will make intuitive sense to them.” Not watching TV, rather out of the blue, made no sense to her. She was going to get a story anyway before bed. Perhaps discussing how others were also doing this across the country, aligned with some reward, might have worked.

Besides, since I watch very little in real time with the DVR – even the news is taped – I don’t really want to give it up myself. Does no TV mean that we just fill up the DVR and watch more NEXT week? The DVR’s hovering around 50% full already.

In parenting, we really try to do the united front thing. But in this case, my heart simply wasn’t in it.

ROG

Bob & Dick


I’ve noticed quite often that when someone, say, at church dies, who I might have known for a couple decades, they always have a back story revealed at the funeral I would not have imagined. Whereas the stories of public figures – actors, singers, and the like – are usually well-known to me.

So I was surprised that I was surprised to learn much more about Robert Culp, the actor who died last week at the age of 79. Not only was he a performer but also a writer and sometime director, often of the series on which he was performing at the time.

I knew Culp him best as Kelly Robinson on I Spy, partnering up with Bill Cosby’s Alexander Scott. Cosby was a well-regarded young comedian, but known for his stand-up routines, not dramatic performances. Yet Sheldon Leonard gave him the job, Cosby got three Emmys in three years, and Cosby and Culp became good friends.

But what struck me when I get to Gordon’s very nice obit of Robert Culp was this book cover of the Whitman novelization Message from Moscow by Brandon Keith (1966). I read this story at least a few times in my early teen years, but oddly I don’t remember that much about it, except for one thing: the villain was quite literally “hoist by his own petard.”

I Spy: I watched that show religiously for the three years it was on. I venture to say 90% of black Americans watched it, just like most black folk watched Nat King Cole’s short-lived variety show a decade earlier. There just weren’t that many opportunities to see people of color on the screen – and when you did, they were often in minor, often demeaning roles. I appreciated how both Culp and Cosby demanded that Cosby’s race not be a centerpiece of the show. I may have to go to HULU and catch an episode or two to see if it is as good as I remember it.
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I should mention the passing of Dick Giordano, whose ascension to the position of DC Comics’ editor-in-chief corresponded to me starting at the comic book store FantaCo, in 1980. I wasn’t a big DC fan, but I did find myself picking up more of their books in the decade or so he was in charge far more than in the period before. I have a vague recollection meeting him once very briefly at the San Diego Comic Con, and he didn’t SEEM like a corporate stuffed shirt. I suspect that was because, most of all, he was an artist, specifically a quality inker, so he was inclined to try to undersand and appreciate the artist POV. A much better remembrance here.
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Oh, and this is coincidentally related. My buddy Steve Bissette has been musing at length about Forgotten Comics Wars of the mid to late 1980s. Subtitled How Angry Freelancers Made It Possible for A New Mainstream Comics Era (Including Vertigo) to Exist, it is a very interesting take on an era when I was actively involved in the retail comics biz. I was going to compile the 12 parts once they were all released, but Mark Evanier, bless him, beat me to it. And ME notes: “That last installment has bittersweet meaning because of the recent passing of Dick Giordano, who was in the midst of the controversy.”
ROG

March Ramblin'


Anyone out there on Posterous? I had never heard of it until very recently. I posted something the other day via e-mail, because I could. One can also post a variety of other ways. I’m not seeing the need, but then again, I didn’t get Twitter or Facebook initially either.
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It’s not coming out until May 25, but I’m looking forward to Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook by Bettye LaVette. This great singer who was in the Albany area recently – no, didn’t get a chance to see her – is covering a bunch of songs, many that I know well. It has a definite Beatles tinge.
1. The Word (Beatles)
2. No Time To Live (Traffic)
3. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Animals)
4. All My Love (Led Zeppelin)
5. Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison)
6. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
7. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
8. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
9. Salt Of The Earth (Rolling Stones)
10. Nights In White Satin (Moody Blues)
11. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Derek & the Dominoes)
12. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John)
13. Love Reign O’er Me (The Who – live from the Kennedy Center Honors)

That last song, sung to Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry, seemed to have them in tears, especially Townsend.

Check out Bettye’s website for her performances with Paul & Ringo, with Jon Bon Jovi, and her stellar Who cover.
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SamuraiFrog informs me that there is a Soul Train YouTube channel, which is very cool.
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I was listening to Les Brown this week. He had a big hit in the 1940s with Bizet Has His Day, an adaptation of Farandole from L’Arlésienne.
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Ever get a song stuck in your head, but you CAN’T REMEMBER the title? This happened to me the other day. I called up a librarian friend who wasn’t working that day. Then I called a violinist friend of mine; she knew the song I hummed, but couldn’t remember what it was either. She called her sister, and she identified it as In The Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, music by Edvard Grieg. Don’t think you know this piece? I’ll bet you do, especially if you play any of the three dozen versions from Duke Ellington, Erasure and ELO to Rick Wakeman and the Who. I’m rather partial to the ska version. Somehow, I have it in my mind that this music also inspired the Sugar Crisp commercial theme.
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As a reaction to the Tea Baggers, there is now a Coffee Party. I’m only slightly conflicted in that I really like tea and really don’t like coffee.
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Have I mentioned lately that I really love Betty White? I’ll even record Saturday Night Live on May 8, and I only watched it in 2008 for “Sarah Palin”.
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The greatest 9,331 movies of all time.
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Is my cellphone frying my brain?
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Don’t know why I do that March Madness thing. This year’s results have been worse than ever, thanks to the upsets. Yet I can still win.

For the games today and tomorrow:
I picked: Kansas over Michigan State.
Who’s actually playing: Northern Iowa and Michigan State.
I’m rooting for: Northern Iowa. Their colors are purple and gold, just like my graduate school alma mater. What the heck; I hope they get to the Final Four. Go Panthers!

I picked: Georgetown over Ohio State.
Who’s actually playing: Tennessee and Ohio State.
I’m rooting for: Tennessee. The leader in our group picked Ohio State to win the whole thing.

I picked: Syracuse over UTEP
Who’s actually playing: Syracuse and Butler.
I’m rooting for: Syracuse, who I have going to the Final Four.

I picked: Pittsburgh over Kansas State.
Who’s actually playing: Xavier and Kansas State.
I’m rooting for: Xavier.

I picked: Baylor over Villanova.
Who’s actually playing: Baylor and St. Mary’s.
I’m rooting for: Baylor, who I have in the Final Four.

I picked Louisville over Siena.
Who’s actually playing: Duke and Purdue (yikes).
I’m rooting for: Purdue. Actually, I’m rooting against Duke every round.

I picked: West Virginia over New Mexico
Who’s actually playing: West Virginia and Washington.
I’m rooting for: West Virginia, who I have winning the tournament over (oops) Kansas.

I picked: Kentucky over Cornell.
Who’s actually playing: Kentucky and Cornell!
I’m rooting for: Kentucky on my sheet, the upstate New York team in my heart.

ROG