Wednesday, October 31, 2012

P is for Pumpkin


great pumpkin 10-31-12

The Great Pumpkin, that is.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching the Peanuts gang as they celebrate Halloween.  And when I say “as long as I can remember”, I mean that literally; It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown premiered in the fall of 1966, when I was barely three, and (presumably) before any long-term memories could be formed.  Granted, this holiday special doesn’t pack the emotional punch of A Charlie Brown Christmas, but it’s still a fun tradition.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown really focuses more on Linus than Charlie, though you know Mr. Brown gets his share of story time.  It seems Linus is the only one of his friends who believes in the Great Pumpkin, a mythical figure that is supposed to rise up from the midst of a sincere pumpkin patch on Halloween night and bring toys for all the good boys and girls.  He spends every Halloween waiting to be proven right, missing out on all the fun of trick-or-treating and parties, but he’s convinced it will all be worth it in the end.

Of course, he’d rather not wait alone, but no one else wants to miss out on the candy.  Besides, Charlie just got his very first invite to a Halloween party, so no way he’s sitting out with the pumpkins all night, even if his loot turned out to be more of the trick variety than treat.  But Sally does finally relent, and waits with her heartthrob, though she’s ultimately disappointed, as Linus has been each year.  Those Peanuts kids never give up, though; just like Charlie will always try to kick the football, Linus vows he’s never giving up on the Great Pumpkin.

And, Charlie Brown never seems to lose its charm to me, though I’ll admit my husband would be just as happy if I could outgrow it.  But what does seem to wear on me the older I get is just how grumpy Lucy is.  I mean, really, she’s just plain old mean.  I don’t like it, not one little bit, and I seem to find myself wishing that just once Charlie or Linus would just reach out and smack her.  I don’t normally condone violence, even of the cartoon kind, but some people just need a good slap upside the head.  Or maybe that’s just me. 

But, Lucy aside, I’ll still be waiting for the Great Pumpkin next October, just like December will find me hoping Charlie will finally find the true meaning of Christmas.  Some things really are worth watching time and time again.

And, that, dear readers, brings us to the end of October, and the final entry of the 31 Days of the Small Screen.  It’s been an interesting experience, trying to stay focused on one umbrella topic for an entire month.  It’s given me a new respect for those bloggers who have more thematic sites and mostly stick to writing about similar topics all the time.  I’m pretty sure I’m much happier just chatting on about whatever tickles my fancy on any given day, so, for better or worse, we’ll be returning to the much more haphazard approach more typical for these pages.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Incidentally, this also marks the end of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, though I have to put that in the category of dismal failure.  Yes, I posted every day this month (this will actually be post #37 for October), but the challenge also carries a social aspect, with everyone asked to read/comment on other participants’ blogs each day.  Yeah, I pretty much sucked at that this time around.  I’m working on getting better, though, so thanks for sticking with me through that, too.

31 Days of TV


 Linking up with the fine folks over at ABC Wednesday; pop on over and peruse a whole passel of P posts.

The Show Must Go On


Letterman 10-30-12


  Yesterday, I talked about how television loves a good natural disaster, but, really, it’s not all of television, just the news folks.  There are other TV groups that are really not so fond of inclement weather.

  For one thing, programs that film in the impacted areas—including one of my personal favorites, Person of Interest—get their film permits taken away from them.  One would hope that they’d have sense enough not to be out and about on the streets in such conditions, anyway, but I guess the people in charge of such things figure there’s no need to take chances.

But then you’ve got shows like Late Show with David Letterman.  Live programs that film five days a week in front of a studio audience.  But what do you do when the studio audience can’t (safely) get to you?  Well, if you’re Letterman, you do the show anyway.  For the past two days, Dave has put on his show in front of an empty studio, produced with just a small fraction of the normal complement of crew.  Sure, the monologues seemed a little flat, and the top ten list had to be done without any fancy graphic overlay, but he still managed to put on a few guests (Denzel Washington on Monday, Ken Burns and Jim Cantore Tuesday) and keep things rolling along. 

Plus, Letterman is a likeable guy, almost always entertaining and worth watching.  And most of all, I sort of liked the idea of seeing him out there, doing his small part to keep things normal, even in the midst of a once in a lifetime storm.

31 Days of TV

TV Tuesday 9-19-12

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



hurricane 10-29-12

There is nothing television likes better than a major disaster.  I don’t mean that to sound crass, except that, at it’s root, television is a business, and business often is crass.  When disasters come around—especially natural disasters that have some advance warning—television rolls out the welcome mat.

You only have to check out the 24 hour news channels to see that those folks are in their element right now.  Even the regular networks and local channels will have exhaustive coverage of Sandy; there will be no shortage of information.  During Sandy—as with other weather crisis—they’ll cover the entire cycle of the storm, the before, during, and after.

Things like hurricanes get the most “before” treatment, because there is typically lots of warning.  The news and weather people get days to dissect and report what’s brewing, what to expect, and when to expect it.  And, of course, they get to pick a catchy name.  They really like to give these situations a name, because they need something to go on a shiny graphic.  Sandy first got a holiday-themed name—Frankenstorm—though maybe some thought that was too cute for something with such destructive powers, as many have transitioned into calling her Superstorm.  Either way, pick a channel; they’ll be calling it something other than just Sandy.

Then comes the during stage.  Maybe news reporters have some sort of latent daredevil tendencies or something, because they seem to relish standing out in the middle of the harsh elements, quoting statistics and showing rising waters, holding on for dear life to anything they can find so that they don’t get blown over during their live shot.  Not that there isn’t value to keeping people informed, of course, but you have to wonder if they aren’t also doing some harm as they remind people to heed evacuation warnings while they themselves blatantly disregard them. 

And finally will come the after stage.  Once the storm passes and there’s no more dramatic footage of swelling waves and sparking power lines, then we’ll start getting damage reports, spelled out in dollars and cents, and, sadly, the toll of human life.  Depending on how far-reaching the damage—and in this case, it seems likely to be fairly extensive—there will still be round the clock coverage for at least a day or two.  Now the dramatic footage will be of destroyed homes, boats floating through the streets of towns, and survivors in despair.  Then it will slowly begin to trickle down, first with updates a couple of times an hour, then a couple of times a day or week, until it finally fades from the scene altogether.  This “after” phase will have an unusual wrinkle, though, as the impact to the upcoming election will undoubtedly be a hot topic.  Come November 6, it’s entirely possible there will be large numbers of citizens still without power, or areas still impassable, or any number of circumstances that might make getting to the polls next to impossible.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the aftermath of this particular disaster. 

And we will see it play out.  Because the reason that our newscasters will provide this coverage, hour after hour, day after day, is because we will watch it.  We want to know what happened, how it all worked out for those impacted, and if there’s any further threat.  It’s ingrained in our psyche somehow, the need to follow along with these sorts of disasters.  Maybe it’s to learn how to respond should we ever be in similar circumstances, or maybe it’s just to remind ourselves how lucky we are because it isn’t our town at the center of attention.  Whatever the reason, television is more than happy to oblige.

31 Days of TV


Monday, October 29, 2012

Snapshot Sunday #12, with a Side of Sports


Money target 10-29-12

  Before we get to this week’s pictures, let me tell you what’s on my TV mind today:  sports.  I suppose it’s not all that surprising, at the end of the weekend.  After all, weekends are practically synonymous with television sports, right? 

  I live in a college town with a pretty good football team, so fall Saturdays around here are all about NCAA.  We lost yesterday, which was a bummer, but we—and thousands of others—watched it all unfold in horrendous living color from the comfort of our living rooms.

Late in the game, the local channel put a crawler across the screen that one of the most popular players on our local NBA team had been traded, so that’s been quite the topic for the past twenty-four hours or so.

Today, of course, it was the NFL all afternoon (including a game from Wembley Stadium, no less), and then tonight saw San Francisco complete the sweep of Detroit to become World Series Champions.

It’s been a busy couple of sports days.  Like most weekends.  But watching the baseball post-game hoopla, I was amazed—as I always am—by the Giants pulling on their Championship tees and hats.  What I can never figure out is what happens when a series goes best of seven and both sides print up the winning apparel and one of them is left with a bunch of worthless material?  What do they do with all those clothes?  That is a lot of money to waste, and I figure there’s probably some sort of league rules about having them out floating around with the wrong winner on them, so I always think they probably can’t even donate them to homeless shelters or anything.  I like to envision some poor guy in a basement at the stadium, waiting until the last out to start running the screen press machine, churning out just enough for the winning team, but I can’t quite convince myself that’s the way it really works.

At any rate, that train of thought invariably leads me to wondering about the basic state of money in sports.  Of course, I think we’ll all agree that unless you happen to be a Buffet or Gates, the numbers are simply staggering.  So today I wondered just about TV money, and I thought I’d do a quick Google search.  I was not much less staggered by that amount.

It turns out that MLB is making about a billion dollars a year on television contracts.  A billion.  With a B.  And they aren’t alone in raking in big bucks.  The NBA is somehow managing to squeak by with $930 million a year, and even our local collegiate conference (schools/conferences negotiate their own television contracts because the NCAA was barred from making all broadcast decisions years ago) is reportedly making $200M annually between football and basketball airtime. 

But, as you might imagine, the NFL is the king of the heap when it comes to collecting the dough.  They’re currently making $1.9 billion dollars a year, with that figure set to increase after next season to $3.1 billion. 

Am I the only person astounded by these numbers?  And this is just broadcast revenue we’re talking about, not ticket sales, or concessions, or any sort of merchandising.  Strictly TV money.  And that’s strictly the “big” sports.  I haven’t even checked on things like golf, auto racing, tennis, or the occasional billiards tournament and what-have-you.  The networks are shelling out just insane amounts of money for these games.

So who pays for it all?  Well, advertisers pick up a big chunk of it, of course, but a lot of it is also coming from me and you.  I saw one report that said the average television subscriber (cable/satellite) is paying $4.69 per month to have ESPN included in their lineup.  And that’s just the start of the sports channel costs.  They estimate that sports programming is responsible for roughly 50% of the average television bill each month, even though it’s only about 20% of the viewing time.  That seems a little out of whack to me.

As I said, there is a lot of sports watching that goes on in this household, so I can’t say that we’re not getting some return on the money we’re being charged, I’m just saying maybe we ought to slow things down a little and consider whether these dollar amounts seem reasonable.  I mean, after all, these are just games we’re talking about here.  Maybe we just need a little perspective, and could start dialing back the sports budget just a little bit.  And maybe start by putting that guy in the basement to work, and making sure there isn’t any money wasted on championship tee shirts that never see the light of day.

But, enough of that.  Let’s move on to this week’s photos, shall we?  After all, it is Snapshot Sunday.  As always, prompts are provided by Chantelle, entertaining us from over at Fat Mum Slim

21.  Calm

  Prompt:  Calm.  A peaceful moment on my neighborhood walk.







22.  In Your Town


  Prompt:  In Your Town.  Truthfully, I have no idea what this is.  It’s been sitting in the front yard of a house here in town for my whole life.  I believe it’s a spaceship of some sort.  How or why?  Who knows?  My dad told me the owner was once an engineering student or something over at the university, and it was built as a school project.  But he didn’t know the guy; it seemed like just pretty much town lore.  And it seems perfectly reasonable, too, but I prefer to imagine some sort of ET-type of encounter and the owner kept this as a memento. 

23.  The View From Here


  Prompt: The View From Here.  Here is sitting at the top of my road, waiting on traffic so that I may get on the highway.  No one likes waiting on traffic, but the clouds were pretty.




24.  Weather


  Prompt:  Weather.  It was dreary and overcast most all day.  The clouds finally broke up just in time for sunset, and we never did get any rain.  Fine by me.




25.  People


  Prompt:  People.  It turns out there really aren’t very many people in the library after 8:00, which was when I remembered I hadn’t yet taken my picture for the day.  But at least there were a couple.  When my study group and I arrived, I think we at least doubled the population.





26.  Listening To



  Prompt:  Listening To.  Come On Eileen, one of the best one hit wonder songs ever.  I’m not sure how I managed to download it from an exercise album, but it seems appropriate, because that’s when I listen to it most.  It’ll really help get you moving.







27.  Morning


  Prompt:  Morning.  Saturday morning at the campus, and not a lot going on.  Turns out there aren’t too many people goofy enough to sign up for an 8AM weekend class!

And that wraps up the photos for today.  Tomorrow begins a brand new week, and I think it might be a little more settled.  I’ve fallen completely behind on the fun things lately, like blog reading, exercising (well, maybe not entirely fun), more picture taking.  Going to work on carving out time for that stuff again, starting Monday.  Oh, and I have a phone interview tomorrow, too.  Some sort of contact center for a logistics company, so we’ll see how that goes.  Here’s wishing you all a pleasant new week, too.

31 Days of TV

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Six Word To-Do List


ESPN gameday


  1. School
  2. Food
  3. Big game on TV

31 Days of TV


Linking up with Show My Face; tell your story in 6 words.

We Don’t Need No Education


classroom 10-26-12Image courtesy of criminalatt at


Since I’m taking a break from studying to jot down a few lines tonight, I thought I’d give a short mention to some of my favorite programs about schools and the kids who inhabit them.

Of course, the thing about TV school is that it’s nothing like it was when I was a kid.  Heck, I’m not sure it’s even like it is now.  TV kids were precocious, often to an unrealistic degree.  Of course, it didn’t help that sometimes the “kids” were just young-looking adults.  But, even when they were actually kids, writers often made them far too wise beyond their years.  And, often times, kids were poorly behaved while in school.  I mean, sure, every class has a clown or two, but most of the classrooms I’ve been in wouldn’t have tolerated a lot of what was going on on the screen.  But, I suppose that’s the whole dramatic license bit.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show set in a classroom that was actually about schoolbook learning, though I’ll admit that Welcome Back, Kotter did actually deal with education more than most.  But it was also way out there at the edge of the that-would-never-happen-in-a-classroom scale.  And their adult cast wasn’t even all that young looking.  But I liked it anyway.

One of the earliest school shows I remember was Room 222.  I don’t distinctly remember the kids from that one, but I think they were at least actual teenagers.  Mostly I remember perky Karen Valentine, and wishing my teachers could be as cool as the ones at Walt Whitman High.

While not really a show about school, I loved Greatest American Hero, and at least it was a show about a school teacher.  A teacher who got some extraterrestrial powers, sure, but a teacher just the same.  Young adults served as the supporting cast here, but at least that made it a little more believable when they ended up getting involved in some of the wilder escapades.

And who could forget Square Pegs?  Well, the truth is, a lot of people have probably forgotten it, even though it was really pretty funny, and starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker, many years before she would go on to Sex and the City fame.  I was a recent high school graduate when this show hit the air, but I still well remembered the difficulty of not really fitting in, so it was all very true for me.  TV is always the best when it touches close to home. 

Quite possibly my favorite school show of all time was Boy Meets World.  Adorable Cory Matthews and his best friend Shawn Hunter had some fun adventures, and I liked watching them all.  They seemed like mostly real kids (even if Cory’s girlfriend was an unlikely hippie chick named Topanga), and they had a stern-but-fair principal in Mr. Feeney.  I actually started watching this program because of the dad, played by William Russ, who I absolutely adored as Roger LoCocco on Wiseguy.  Like most sitcoms about kids, the parents were often afterthoughts in the stories, but Mr. Matthews still came across like a good dad, and I was glad Russ had brought me to the show.  The kids were cute as kids, and watching them grow up and go through all the normal pains of that process made for some nice storytelling. 

So, there you have it: some of my favorite shows through the years set against a backdrop of the classroom, even if most of them have little to nothing to do with education.  It seems lesson plans and homework aren’t entirely necessary for good entertainment. 

But, now, I think it’s time for a quick review of notes, and then off to bed, so that I may get up before the crack of dawn tomorrow and head for my own classroom.

What TV students do you enjoy?

31 Days of TV

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Lazy Day 5QF


Man!  I can’t believe it’s Friday already, and I also can’t believe it’s almost 2:00pm, and I’ve done absolutely nothing today.  I mean, nothing.  Not the dishes in the sink, not made a plan for dinner, not started the three (or maybe four) chapters I have to read before 8:00 tomorrow morning, or touched the study guide for an exam next Tuesday.  Heck, I’m not even dressed.  Well, that last part isn’t entirely true; I did pull on a sweatshirt over my pjs.  Of course, none of that sounds quite as bad when you consider that I’ve been out of bed less than two hours, but then you start thinking about the fact that I was in bed until after noon, and suddenly things seem a lot worse.  Maybe we should stop thinking about it.

But we can think about the fact that it’s Friday, which not only means the weekend is near, it also means it’s time for more questions from Mama M.  What do we have in store today?  
five question friday


1. Who wakes up in the morning with the kids, you or hubby?

Well, since my “kid” is 21 now (and still living at home), it’s more a matter of who stays up worrying about him, and that would be me.  I know he’s a grown man and all, but as long as he’s actually living here, I feel better once he’s home for the night.  But, as for the actual question, when he was little, we split the waking up duties just based on whatever was going on for the day. 

2. Do you watch the World Series even if your team isn't in it?

I’ve got latent baseball fan tendencies, so I always watch at least part of most of the games, though I rarely devote myself to a whole game.  I have a dear friend who lives and breathes baseball, specifically SF Giants baseball, so she’s completely in her element right now.  Though I am an American League girl at heart, for her sake, I’m pulling for the NL this year.

3. What is the best compliment you have received?

I don’t know about specifically the very best one ever, but in general, I’m most fond of comments that touch on basic human kindness, since I think that’s the most important trait a person can have.  I know I don’t demonstrate those qualities as much as I could, but I do appreciate when it’s recognized.

4. Do/did you dress up to take your kids trick or treating?

I sort of think one year I might’ve put on a costume to go out, but as a rule, no.  Halloween has never been a huge thing to me, though I do love seeing cute little kids having so much fun.  I wish we lived in a place where kids actually would come to trick-or-treat.  My sister, on the other hand, is all about the holiday.  She recently posted on Facebook looking for ideas on how to customize a mask, so there’s no telling what she’s planning.  It could be a mask for my nephew, but could just as easily be for her.

5. Do you have a favorite bible verse? What is it and why?

Um, no.  I suppose I should feel like something of a heathen for that (and, in truth, every once in a while, I do), but I’ve never been much of a Bible person.  Still, don’t forget about Q3 up there, and the life I’m trying to lead based on basic human kindness.  I’m pretty sure that’s a big part of the story, so I’m hoping God will forgive me for not actually reading it all the way through.


And that’s it for this week.  Now that I’ve got at least one item marked off my to-do list for today, I suppose I ought to think about that homework, or maybe doing the dishes.  But I’m pretty sure I’m still not going to get dressed.

Do feel free to let me know your answers in the comments, and I hope you all have a great weekend.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

I have a confession to make:  I don’t hate commercials.  In fact, I really like a lot of them.  Not all of them, of course.  Screaming car salesmen?  Yuck.  Ads with loud, obnoxious music, lots of flashing images, and you’re not even sure what’s being advertise?  Nope.  Trendy, seductive fragrance commercials?  Not so much.  All of those things leave me cold. 

But, give me an ad that makes me feel good, has a peppy (but not overwhelming) tune, or just plain makes me smile and I’ll watch that every time.  In fact, it makes my husband a little crazy, because even when I’m watching stuff on the DVR, it’s not unusual for me to watch commercials.  I’m weird that way.

So, tonight, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorites, and maybe you can be weird like me and watch commercials just for the sheer joy of it.  (And you know it has to be just for the joy of it, because most of these advertisers will never see a dime from me, though I do love their work!)

  I’m a big fan of the Budweiser horses in general, and this is one of my favorites.


I’ve been enjoying commercials a long time, and in terms of a feel good ad, this one is the real thing.


  This one’s pretty recent, but it’s already a classic.



My favorite soft drink combined with adorable animated bears—what more could you want?  This is the first of the Coca Cola polar bear ads, and I’ve enjoyed every one that’s followed since.

  Those of you not from Oklahoma have likely never seen this commercial or heard this jingle, but it’s a holiday tradition in these parts.  You can visit the official jingle page to learn all about the history of the ad, and you can watch Megan Mullally sing it to Jay Leno.  I have to say though that I’ve never liked the way she describes my favorite jingle ever, and she does get the words just a tiny bit wrong, but at least she’s representing!



And, it’s a hat trick for Coca Cola, checking in with what is quite possibly the Best.Commercial.Ever.

What about you?  Got any commercial favorites?

31 Days of TV

Thursday, October 25, 2012

O is for Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law


I feel quite certain that sometime in the past few weeks I must have mentioned that my preference in television programming lies in shows of the dramatic variety, and in the world of drama, cops and lawyers hold the top spot in my heart.  I watch more cop shows, but that may be only because there are more of them.  You know—uniform cops, detective cops, military cops, private investigator cops, consultant cops, the list goes on and on. 

But attorney shows don’t come in quite so many varieties, since the idea is to build a program around people who practice law.  Still, I’ve watched a lot of them; currently the lineup includes Suits, The Good Wife, and Fairly Legal (though, technically, the latter focuses on a mediator, not a practicing attorney, but there’s still a lot of lawyering going on).  But before these programs, before Harry’s Law, Boston Legal, or Eli Stone, my very first introduction to legal television was Owen Marshall:  Counselor at Law.

owen marshall

Certainly, Owen Marshall was not the first lawyer show on TV, not even the first one in my lifetime.  I might have seen Perry Mason first, though all my memories of the Raymond Burr classic come from reruns, so I don’t have a good grasp of the timing of those memories.  Either way, Owen Marshall absolutely feels first to me.

Premiering in 1971, Owen Marshall starred Arthur Hill as the title character, a lawyer just really trying to help his clients.  He was kind, and honest, and believed in using the law for justice.  That was back in the days when lawyers garnered at least a modicum of respect, not like today, when the general consensus seems to be that they’re all lying scumbags who got rich off the backs of any poor soul who was foolish enough to trust them.  I’m confident that the common belief is greatly exaggerated, but it would be hard to tell from the attorney portrayals on television, even many of my favorites.

But, as I said, this program was from the days of kinder, gentler lawyers, and it was nice to see folks working hard to help good people avoid whatever injustices had been thrown their way.  In addition to Hill, there was an earnest assistant played by Lee Majors.  That was before he became wildly famous as The Six Million Dollar Man, but after I’d already become infatuated with him as Heath Barkley.  Having him on the show regularly was an added bonus.

As a slight digression, there was another program on around the same time, Marcus Welby, M.D., (starring Robert Young, who was Jim Anderson to my parents, but always Dr. Welby to me) and it was about a kindly doctor (and his young, earnest assistant) doing whatever he could to make life better for his patients—even making house calls.  I enjoyed it, too, and always thought the two show were very similar, just one was about a doctor and one a lawyer.  It was a while before I realized they had the same creator, David Victor.  I pick up on those things a lot quicker these days.

When I was young, there were quite a few years when I really thought I’d grow up to be a lawyer.  As I got older, there were a lot of realities that came to my attention that caused me to change my mind.  One of them, sadly, is that the practice of law isn’t nearly as interested in the pursuit of justice as Owen Marshall had led me to believe.  That’s really too bad, and, even as an adult, there are a lot of times I wish real life could be more like TV.

Owen_Marshall_cast_1973 10-25-12

Were there any television programs that made you aspire to a career? 

Linking up with all the fine folks over at ABC Wednesday.   Do stop by and visit some of the other entries. ABCW11





And, we’re inching ever closer to November; this marks post #24 in my series, 31 Days of the Small Screen.  You can find more month-long topics over at Nesting Place.  There are over a thousand blogs participating, so I bet there’s something you’d be interested in.31 Days of TV

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The New-Fangled TV


Vintage TV 10-24-12

Image courtesy of tungphoto at


Sometimes, television makes me feel sort of old.  Not the stuff that’s on TV—though sometimes that has the same effect—but the actual television sitting in my living room.  It’s what some would consider a fancy piece of equipment—HD, Wi-Fi, 3D, bigger than two of my parents’ old sets—and I alternate between taking it for granted and being amazed by it.  It’s during those latter moments that the old-age feelings sink in.

Since I can remember when HD and Wi-Fi didn’t even exist, 3D was reserved for cult films, and a 21 inch screen was considered big, it’s not all that hard to understand why this technological marvel makes me feel like some kind of artifact.  I even remember black and white TVs, though it’s true that when I was growing up, the primary set in our home was always color.  But, other than a small hand-held we kept around for weather alerts during power outages (until everything went digital), I’m not sure my son has ever seen a B&W set. 

And the accessories?  Cable, satellite, VCRs, DVDs, DVRs, they’ve all come into existence within my lifetime.  Well, okay, cable was around before I was, but it was hardly widespread.  I can remember when it became available in my hometown, and I can remember how excited we were when my dad finally relented and said we could get it.

All of this technology goes into the television viewing experience, making it more convenient, and, in many ways, more enjoyable.  It’s all part and parcel of the normal television landscape these days, and I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to witness this sort of electronic revolution.  But sometimes it still makes me feel old.

What’s your favorite piece of television technology?

31 Days of TV

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Missiles of October


As you’ve likely heard from some source or another, today is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s speech informing the nation that Soviet missile bases had been discovered in Cuba.  The Cuban Missile Crisis, as it’s come to be known, had actually begun a week earlier, on October 15th, when the first photos of the missiles were seen.  By the 22nd, having ruled out other options, Kennedy went on TV to explain his intent to enforce a naval blockade of Cuba to force the removal of the missiles.  By the 28th, the Russians gave in, and announced they would be removing their missiles from the island.  Crisis averted.

More than a decade later, television adapted a book by Robert Kennedy telling the story of the tense two weeks when America was probably the closest its ever been to nuclear war.  Missiles October 10-22-12We watched that movie in my 8th grade history class, and it was the beginning of a lifetime of interest in—and admiration for—John Kennedy.  Incidentally, while I can’t remember if this was also my first introduction to William Devane and Martin Sheen, it’s certainly the moment when I really became aware of them, and I remain a fan of their work to this day.

A couple of weeks ago, when I discussed books turned into television, I sort of can’t believe I forgot to include this one, since it was such an important event for me.  But I think it’s a nice reminder of the good that television can do.  This movie imprinted on me and taught me about this period of history more than any school room lecture could have done.  And that’s not intended as any sort of degradation of teachers; I really liked my history teacher.  And, she was cool enough to show us this film. 

But, as I said, the movie turned me into a Kennedy “fan”, if that’s the right word when speaking of the President of the United States.  I started by reading Robert Kennedy’s book.  Then I hit the encyclopedias for a broad picture of the missile situation, and searched for other books on the topic.  Ultimately, I collected and read dozens upon dozens of books and magazines about Kennedy’s life and presidency, well beyond the scope of these particular thirteen days. 

It is, I think, the very best thing that television can accomplish—sparking an interest that leads to learning.  (Surely everyone has heard stories of scientists, teachers, astronauts who were inspired by Star Trek?)   TV gets a bad rap a lot of time for being mindless entertainment, and I can’t deny there’s a lot of that to be found as you scroll through the channels.  But that’s not all there is, and 14 year old me—as well as 49 year old me—is eternally grateful for that. 

31 Days of TV

Monday, October 22, 2012

Snapshot Sunday #11


Cancelled 10-21-12

  A joint post today, with just a few words about television, and then the weekly wrap up of daily pictures.  In terms of TV, as we move later into October, it becomes time for networks to start examining their lineups and giving new shows the go-ahead or quickly pulling the plug on things that just haven’t worked out.

So far, two new shows have already gotten the axe—neither particularly surprising.  The first to go, lasting only two episodes, was Made in Jersey.  It was on my own watch list, so I saw both of the episodes.  I’d say it was . . . okay.  Certainly nothing to write home about, but not the worst I’ve ever seen, either.  But you gotta figure that a Friday night program needs to be a little bit stronger than “okay”. 

Then, a few days ago, NBC announced it was cancelling Animal Practice.  I’ll admit that I have not seen even one of the four or five episodes that have been aired, but the ads alone left me convinced this program would not only not entertain me, but would also not be long for the world.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t missed anything. 

There are a couple of others that I’m watching that I worry may also be facing the chopping block soon.  Partners is fairly amusing, but it’s a little bit over-the-top and often comes across as over-acted and frantic.  On the other hand, Last Resort is well-acted, and has an interesting story line, but I fear it’s already becoming difficult to sustain the necessary balance of intrigue and reality to keep a show like this going.  There are only so many times a a nuclear submarine and crew can realistically be threatened, a crew can question/disobey commanding officers and still be welcomed back into the fold, or the heroic and/or mutinous captain can save the day with an impassioned speech.  Combine a difficult-to-sustain story line with some low ratings, and I’d say the sub’s days may be numbered.  That’s sort of sad to me; I’d at least like to give it a chance to dig a really deep hole, but it might not work out that way.

And, lastly, while it’s not precisely a cancellation, it’s been announced that Private Practice will leave the air after thirteen episodes this season.  Star Kate Walsh was ready to move on, and the decision has been made not to continue without her.  I never watched the show with any regularity, but when I did, I found it to be decent, with some interesting characters.  I’m sure there are many fans who will be upset by the decision. 

So that’s all I know about fall cancellations at this point; let’s move on to Snapshot Sunday, shall we?

As always, the photos are inspired by prompts from Chantelle and her Photo a Day challenge over at Fat Mum Slim.

14.  Makes You Laugh Prompt: Makes You Laugh.  This picture makes me laugh. I was playing with the new panorama feature on my phone, and didn’t follow instructions and hold it steady. And, Brian walked through the photo, turning him into some sort of half-invisible man.  All in all, funny results.

15.  Dinnertime


  Prompt:  Dinnertime.  When the timer pops up, it’s time to eat!






16.  Something You Wrote


  Prompt:  Something You Wrote.  My most recent blog post.  Well, you know, most recent then.

17.  Fruit



  Prompt:  Fruit.  Some melons at the grocery store.  I really wanted to buy some, but it’s so late in the year, I was afraid they’d be nasty.

18.  Made You Smile Today


  Prompt:  Made You Smile Today.  My silly cats often drink from the birdbath, though I’d think their own water bowl would be much more convenient for them.  But they don’t usually do it by standing completely on top of it.  Mel must’ve been feeling adventurous today.  Also, as an aside, I’m pretty sure this is part of why I don’t get so many birds anymore.









19.  Letters

  Prompt:  Letters.  My least favorite pic of the week; this is in a dark hallway, and I don’t seem to have the skills necessary to light it properly.


20.  4 O'Clock


  Prompt:  4 O’Clock.  Okay, clearly this isn’t really a photograph.  But, each time that 4:00 rolled around on Saturday, I was sound asleep, so I cheated a little!

And that’s it for this week.  Chantelle has just posted the prompt list for November (I haven’t even looked at it yet, but I saw that it was there), so if you want to join in next month, go get the list and start getting ready.

Until next time, happy picturing.  Oh, and happy TV watching, too!

31 Days of TV

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Six Word Collapse



Exhausted 10-20-12




  Saturday school exhausting; no TV tonight.  Sad smile

Image credit: David Castillo Dominici via

31 Days of TV 


Linking up at Show My Face; join in, and tell your story in six words.

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Thing Leads to Another


Tonight’s lineup on the CBS network included an episode of CSI: NY.  It’s a fine show, made better by the performance of Gary Sinise, though I don’t really follow any of the CSI franchise.  It got me to thinking, though, about the tried and true television practice of spinning off one show fromspin-off 10-19-12 another, hoping to duplicate the existing success.  You can’t blame them, of course.  After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and, whenever possible, make a new one just like it.  It’s a good business model. 

Some people really object to this type of programming, and I’ll admit that even I occasionally get annoyed when the networks seem intent on proving the adage that there’s nothing new under the sun.  But, some extremely popular programs—and some of my favorites—have originated from others, so you can’t judge too harshly.                        Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at

Spin-offs come in every shape and size, from dramas to situation comedies, cartoons to reality programming.  You’ve got spin-offs of guest characters to their own shows, continuations of primary characters once the original source has left the air, and “franchise” type spin-offs, where there’s no direct relationship between the primary and secondary sources other than the universe within which they are created.  My beloved Star Trek would be the classic example of this type of spin-off.

So, what begat what in the television production world?  Some instances are well known, and some may surprise you, but let’s take a look at a few.

One of the most popular/highest rated programs currently airing—NCIS—was a spin-off from another Donald Bellisario production, JAGNCIS then went on to have a spin-off of its own, NCIS: Los Angeles.

The aforementioned CSI: NY was another third generation program, spinning off from CSI: Miami, whose characters originally sprang from an appearance on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

I’ve written before about Mork and Mindy, but let’s not forget that Happy Days gave us some other programs, too, including Laverne and Shirley and Joanie Loves Chachi.   Of course, pedigree isn’t a guarantee for success; Happy Days also gave us Blansky’s Beauties, and who really remembers that?

But I like it when lightening can strike twice, when spin-offs can actually be enjoyable.  NCIS is a good example, though I’m far less fond of the LA version.  Cheers gave us the remarkably funny Frasier, The Practice led us to several enjoyable years with Alan Shore, Denny Crane and company on Boston Legal, and, of course, as I mentioned, the entire Star Trek franchise.

So that’s just a few; there are many, many other examples, some that can really make their parent program proud, some not so much.  But I think it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see spin-offs go away completely, especially when some of the franchises—think Law and Order and The Real Housewives of____________—have proven to be such financial successes.   As with most things in television, we’ll just have to keep taking the bad with the good.

Do you have any favorite spin-offs?  Or any that really want to make you poke your eyes out with a stick?

31 Days of TV

5QF—Don’t Tell Me You’re A Serial Killer!


It’s kind of early for me to be blogging already, but starting tomorrow, I’ve got a class for the next five Saturdays.  Consequently, I’m trying to prepare myself for waking up at 6:00am tomorrow. I got up at 8:00 today, which I know is late for many of you, but at least an hour earlier than I normally wake up, and, really, closer to two on most days.  Plus, even though I told myself I needed to go to bed early last night, it was still after midnight before I hit the hay.  Again, a couple of hours earlier than normal, but still left me rolling out of bed with less than eight hours of sleep, when I’m really a nine hour girl.  It’s only 10:30, and I already feel like I need a nap!  I’m thinking tonight’s bedtime will be 10:00pm.  If I make it that long.  (As an aside, I think my school has the shortest fall break known to man: Thursday through Friday afternoon.  If you have Friday evening classes—which thankfully I don’t—you had to be there.  And, as just mentioned, Saturday classes continue as scheduled.  Crazy.)

Also, I’ve still got to do today’s TV post, which will happen later tonight (but before 10!).  I’m not entirely sure what today’s topic will be, though.  I’ve got a couple in the works; tune in later to see which one wins out.

But for now, it’s time for Five Question Friday, hosted, as always, by Mama M at My Little Life.

five question friday

1. Where do you hide junk when people come over?

Well, the truth is, a lot of junk just stays out, proclaiming my clutter-style for all to see.  But the stuff that needs to be gotten out of the way usually goes into my bedroom or closet.

2. Do political ads help you decide who you are going to vote for?

Not precisely, but maybe in a round-about way.  When they say stuff on the ads that I don’t know anything about (usually about a voting record on a specific topic or some such), then I might go look it up and try to understand who believes what about a particular issue.  But I also might not bother.  And, all of that pre-supposes that I actually paid much attention, which usually I don’t, just sometimes something seeps through and piques my interest a bit.  So, if any politician was asking me, I’d probably tell them to save their ad money and find something better to spend it on. 

3. What's your favorite holiday party to host?

We don’t really have holiday “parties”, though we do typically host the holiday family meals.  Christmas is my favorite holiday, and quite possibly my favorite day of the year, but I don’t know that it’s my favorite gathering.  It’s almost like there’s too much to cram into a short amount of time—you have to cook and eat and open presents, all while juggling schedules to make sure everyone also has time for their immediate family moments and still manages to get to any other gatherings they need to visit before the day is over.  Not much time left to just sit and visit and enjoy.  In that regard, I think I prefer Thanksgiving—still cooking and eating, but then you can just sit around and talk or play games or watch football or whatever you want to do.

4. You go to an island with your husband and can only take one personal item. What is it?

I’m not sure that I fully understand the question.  An island like stranded alone on a deserted island?  Or an island like a romantic getaway with warm ocean breezes flowing through the cabana?  And, a personal item like a toiletry?  Or like something important to me?  Maybe I’m making this too complicated, but I’ll give you a couple of answers.

If I was going to be stranded on an island and could only take one toiletry item, I guess I’d vote for Ivory soap.  You can bathe with it, wash your hair with it, and in a pinch, even brush your teeth with it.  I’ll admit it wouldn’t taste good, but it would keep your teeth cleaner than using nothing at all, and have you ever tried to wash your hair with toothpaste?

If it was an island of the romantic nature, where one would assume toiletry items wouldn’t be an issue, then I’d probably have to say my camera.  I’m also assuming communication devices are not an issue in my romantic cabana, and that they have provided means to stay in touch with the world when I need/want to do so.  If not, then I’d have to change my vote to taking my phone (and, yes, I’m assuming I’d have a signal!), which could serve as both communication and camera.

5. If you found out your spouse was a Dexter style serial killer (only kills people to save others) would you rat?

First, I should say that the only episodes of Dexter I’ve ever seen were many years ago during a writer’s strike when NBC aired a slightly watered-down version of season one.  However, with that limited exposure, I’d say that the question isn’t entirely accurate in the whole “kills to save others” bit.  At least, that’s not how I perceived it.  Does he kill bad people?  Yes.  But it’s not like he’s literally saving someone else’s life at the time, in most instances.  He’s just imposing a sentence on people he finds guilty.  And while there’s a certain amount of justice in that, and it’s easy to say they got what they deserve, the truth is, I’m not a big fan of capital punishment when performed by our government, so I really can’t stand behind it when carried out by individuals.  So, yeah, as hard as it would be, I’d drop a dime.  Family members take note: keep your murderous ways to yourself.


So that’s it for this Friday morning edition of 5QF.  Now I need to go find something to do to keep myself awake another eleven hours or so.  I’ve also got to do some reading for class, though I fear that may work against my first goal.  Did I say bedtime at ten?  I might have meant eight.

Have a good Friday, and an enjoyable weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Simple Pleasures



TV screen with picture--idea go at freedigitalphotos

Today is fall break at my school, so I’ve got a rare Thursday evening at home.  That means I’ve got the equally-rare opportunity to watch some of my favorite shows in real-time, rather than waiting until hours/days/weeks later to see them.

Brian actually prefers to watch programs on the DVR, so he can skip through the commercials, but I’d much rather watch during the “live” broadcast. Besides, commercials don’t really bother me; in fact, some of them I really sort of like.  I’m pretty sure we’ll talk more about that before the month is over.

But, for tonight, it’s the simple pleasure of tuning in during first-run broadcast time, knowing I can check social media and not have to worry about spoilers, and just spending a few hours with some interesting characters.  

On tonight’s agenda:

Big Bang Theory
Two and a Half Men
Grey’s Anatomy

  *Due to scheduling conflicts, Last Resort and Person of Interest will both be tape delayed.



What are you doing this evening?


31 Days of TV