Never to go to Mardi Gras

I’m sure that other people have noted this, and am not sure why it’s taken me half a year to realize it – but if the band that recorded the hit single “Walking on Sunshine” ever has another reunion, they will likely not be allowed within a hundred miles of New Orleans.

Published in: on February 28, 2006 at 10:28 am  Comments (1)  

Don Knotts

I can’t say I’m the world’s biggest The Andy Griffith Show fan; even as a youth, I found it watchable but syrupy. But Don? Ah, he was pure. On that show, he put forth that character, and did it smoothly. You could respect the way Barney Fife never let reality get in the way of his self-image.

Mister Furley, that’s another matter (more a matter of writing than anything), but in his movies Don brought the same strengths. He was the guy who fought on bravely – real bravery. It wasn’t that he wasn’t scared, he was scared in ways that film hadn’t been able to show since Steppin Fetchit was no longer part of the game. But when running didn’t work, he managed to get through the situation. And the way he faced being a fish, or caught in a haunted house, or whatever… it was the way that we would have to admit we’d feel. He was an everyman to a unique degree.

(The last substantive screen appearance I can think of – he did at least a couple cameos since – was as the odd, friendly, but ultimately sinister TV repairman in the impressive film Pleasantville. Ultimately, it didn’t play to type, but he showed he could do more than usual.)

One of his films (one Evanier talks about) has an odd place in my history. From time to time as a young man, I’d be flipping channels and come into the middle of this film with Don being mistaken for the publisher of a Playboy-like magazine. If that happened today, I could quickly pull up the cable guide, or the ReplayTV listings, or go to the station’s website, or TVGuide.com, and so forth. But then, we didn’t subscribe to TV Guide. So I’d be wondering what this was, hoping to catch it from the beginning at some point (at the time I liked it better than Evanier suggests I should), but the odds of doing that were slim if I didn’t know what title to look for. Eventually I discovered it was The Love God, and did watch it from the beginning, years later. Kids today could just Netflix it and see it the next week.

(Now I’m left trying to remember what part I played in “Knotts Landing”, a comedy sketch that the comedy troupe Doorways To Lint performed, wherein everyone played a Don Knotts character, except for Martin King who played a Jerry Lewis character. I think I played Mister Furley… but Don really isn’t inside my rather limited impression range.)

Published in: on February 27, 2006 at 1:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Darren McGavin, RIP

Perhaps getting less notice in the wake of the death of Don Knotts (more on that later), Darren McGavin has passed away.

Darren was one of those actors who just automatically brought a ton of character to the parts he played. His face and inflection spoke volumes. These days, he’s probably most seen playing Ralph’s dad (the “old man”) in A Christmas Story when TBS blankets the airwaves with it at Christmastime. However,of more cultural importance is his title role in Kolchak: The Night Stalker. His reluctant hero in the fight against the oogy-boogies echoes loudly through the oogy-boogy shows that followed; there’s a lot of Kolchak in Buffy (arguably, more than there was in the more recent official remake of the series.) And yes, the little fanboy in me would’ve liked to have seen McGavin do an episode of Buffy (and had it been as Kolchak, oooooooh!), but I’m glad he added to the language of the form.

Published in: on February 26, 2006 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Who I am, part 3

  • When I joined the Star Wars Fan Club when it was launched, I was member 2103 (I think; I’m having trouble remembering the number for certain, but that’s close enough).
  • When they changed their numbering scheme perhaps a year later, I was member G2694024200. And that number I remember precisely.
Published in: on February 22, 2006 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

The gals of my cheap dreams

The going question is: did Fran Dresher and Donna Dixon really have a series together? I gotta think “no”… if it had happened, my young hormones would’ve exploded.

Published in: on February 21, 2006 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Things are quiet

Not much TV talk lately… it’s the Olympic doldrums.

Y’see, I dislike the Olympics. Not as in “don’t like, don’t enjoy” them, I mean I actively dislike them. It may sound odd coming from the guy who a couple weeks back was talking about how the Super Bowl pulls the nation together, but I think the Olympics have the opposite effect. It’s not the world coming together. It’s the world going against each other. The advertising is all “cheer on your country”. We’re supposed to support certain athletes because they’re from around here (“around here” being relative, of course; some of the Canadian athletes are from nearer by than the American ones.) It’s nation against nation, and before anyone says that it’s a non-violent distraction that leads away from war and politics, I think the history is the opposite. The Berlin games were all about the Nazis trying to demoralize the world with their superiority (making Jesse Owens one of two sports figures I recognize as a hero). The Munich games. The Cold War Olympic boycotts. And so forth. If you want to bring the world together in athletic competition, then stop with the national “teams”, stop with playing the anthem, and let’s just see people run.

And of course they’re the big gorilla on the TV schedule now, knocking away the entire NBC schedule and sending most of the competition into reruns since there’s little point throwing a new episode of a mid-range series against the athletic juggernaut.

Published in: on February 21, 2006 at 1:33 am  Comments (4)  

The Case of the Faulty Flashback

The last couple of episodes of Monk I’ve watched have been disappointments even against the lowered expectations that I now have for the series. The season closer a couple weeks back had weak attempts at a humorous group of detectives which didn’t translate to the screen, and closed with an in joke (basically, an announcement that the series has been renewed for two 16-episode seasons done in a tortured cutesy manner) which wasn’t even near funny for those who got the joke.

I just watched last night’s episode, which I hadn’t caught when it originally ran earlier in the season. It continued with the habit of reworking Monk’s back story; where originally he had been a normal genius who had gotten OCD in the wake of his wife’s murder (a murder which once seemed to miss something, but is now just the Maguffin to get Monk into situations), and then he’d been a somewhat tightly-wound guy who had switched to fullblown OCD in the wake of his wife’s murder, now he is clearly OCD even in junior high, seen in flashback. He can’t eat a cookie unless it has exactly 10 chocolate chips in it. His sandwiches have to be cut into 10 squares (and by the way, there’s no way to cut a sandwich made of standard bread into 10 equal squares. It’s possible to cut square bread into 10 unequal squares – cut it into quarters, then take two of those quarters and quarter them – but it’s hard to believe that 10 unequal squares would be acceptable to Monk.)

But just to make matters worse, there is an ongoing lack of attention to detail that would be aggrevating in any show, and should be unacceptable in a mystery. The blatant example was during the flashback, set in the early 1970s, when a character holds up a five dollar bill (and in close-up, not as a minor part of the screen image)… and the bill is clearly of the design that wouldn’t be used until about three decades after the scene takes place. Were the folks making this show not alive before the turn of this century? Or could they just not be bothered to notice?

Published in: on February 18, 2006 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

James Randi Educational Foundation %u2014 Home Page

Stage magician and leading skeptic James Randi has undergone bypass surgery, and apparently it looks like he’ll recover well.

Ya gotta reckon there were a lot of people out there not praying for him to pull through… some out of respect.

Published in: on February 17, 2006 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

ReplayTV – the box goes away

I somehow missed hearing that ReplayTV is getting out of the DVR hardware business. They’re just going for the software. Of course, my unit will keep working (until their software thing fails to take, and they go out of business, taking the necessary Electronic Program Guide service with them.) And it almost certainly means that there won’t be any new features added to our existing systems… and it’s been a fair while since there were any software upgrades.

Still, DVR is a thing that works, and from what I’ve seen, the cable company versions still don’t measure up to the stand-alone ones. It’s a shame to see this stuff go away.

Published in: on February 16, 2006 at 10:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Snack Attack

Maybe they should call them “Lack Of Freedom Pastries”?

Published in: on February 15, 2006 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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