Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Random notes: February 6, 2016.

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Good news, everyone! Our long national nightmare is just beginning!

“Cop Rock” is coming out on DVD.

I never saw an episode of “Cop Rock”, but I am assured it is horrible: therefore, I have to get the DVDs.

I went back and forth about noting this obit yesterday, but in the end, this paragraph pushed me over the edge:

Ms. Denham plunged into the bohemian life. She modeled by day, posing at camera clubs and doing photo shoots for romance and detective magazines, paperback covers, comic strips and movie posters. For a spread in True Adventures magazine, “Girl Gun Runners of Saigon,” she posed as four different Vietnamese women holding an array of weapons as they took position on a ridge.

“Girl Gun Runners of Saigon”, one of the greatest titles ever. Right up there with “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” and “Coffin’s Got the Dead Guy On the Inside”.

Obit watch: February 3, 2016.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Bob Elliott, of Bob and Ray fame. NYT. A/V Club.

Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network.

And now I really want the DVDs of Get A Life, a show I personally have fond memories of.

Something lighter.

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s list of “Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas”.

Good for a few chuckles, at least. For example, the entry on “Eastern Caribbean University”: “…master’s degrees were offered in “Classical Studies” which actually was the study of any ‘classic’ TV or movies series such as ‘I Love Lucy’ or the James Bond movies. Closed by action of the CB.”

I also like “Irish International University”: “The Irish government has requested that Malaysia close this entity on grounds that it is neither Irish nor a university.”

(“The Partridge Family were neither partridges, nor a family. Discuss.”)

More Marvin.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

I really like this remembrance of Marvin Minsky by Stephen Wolfram.

Edited to add: By way of Lawrence, Kevin D. Williamson in National Review on Minsky and economics.

Not Minsky, but worth linking to: Hal Linden on Abe Vigoda.

Crime and punishment.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

The first three paragraphs of this article push one of my hot buttons, so you might take that into account when considering my recommendation.

However, I really like Kathryn Schulz’s “Dead Certainty”, about “Making a Murderer” specifically, and the general trend of reporters conducting their own “extrajudicial investigations”.

Nearly seventy years have passed since Erle Stanley Gardner first tried a criminal case before the jury of the general public. Yet we still have not thought seriously about what it means when a private investigative project—bound by no rules of procedure, answerable to nothing but ratings, shaped only by the ethics and aptitude of its makers—comes to serve as our court of last resort.

Schulz puts her finger on something that’s bugged me for a while. I’m not proud of this, but I used to watch “America’s Most Wanted”. Sometimes, it reminded me of a scene from “Fahrenheit 451″, where Montag is being pursued and the pursuit is broadcast live on television, complete with a host who sounds a lot like John Walsh.

I don’t have a dog in this fight: I didn’t watch “Making a Murderer” and I didn’t listen to “Serial”. But I think what Schulz says is worth thinking about:

It is largely because of these systemic weaknesses in our judicial system that we find ourselves with a court of last resort. While that court cannot directly operate the levers of the law, it has drawn attention to cases that need review, and innocent people have been freed as a result. Yet in the decades since Erle Stanley Gardner launched his column, none of the forces that put those people in prison in the first place have changed for the better. Nor have we evolved a set of standards around extrajudicial investigations of criminal cases. However broken the rules that govern our real courts, the court of last resort is bound by no rules at all.

Obit watch: January 27, 2016.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

For the historical record, Abe Vigoda: NYT. A/V Club.

I loved “Barney Miller” (and really need to pick up the complete box set when it gets cheap), and I don’t remember being a fan of “Fish”. And I actually saw the Broadway revival of “Arsenic and Old Lace” with Vigoda and Jean Stapleton the last time I was in NYC. That was a lot of fun.

But the one thing that stands out for me when I think about Vigoda is this:

It might be because I saw it again recently, but I think this is an amazing scene. Watch Vigoda’s face, and the range of emotions he goes through: shock, disappointment, resignation, and that heartbreaking last line: “Tom, can you get me off the hook? For old times’ sake?” Who else could have played that scene?

Obit watch: January 17, 2016.

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Catching up on a few from the past couple of days.

Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, for the record. NYT. A/V Club.

Both of the times Mike the Musicologist and I have gone up to Tulsa, Haggerty was a “special guest”. I thought about getting an autograph and maybe even a photo with him – if nothing else, as a present for my brother – but somehow, in all our wanderings around the show (and remember, it is a huge show) we never made it past where he and the other guests were sitting. I kind of regret that now…

Noted Austin public radio personality Paul Ray died on Friday. Statesman. KUTX.

Obit watch: January 8, 2016.

Friday, January 8th, 2016

I’m still kind of hoping for an obituary from a more mainstream news source, but Florence King, writer and National Review columnist, has died. Tributes from Tam and Lawrence.

This was a little surprising:

I’m not going to say she was as influential on my writing as P.J.: I came to her relatively late in life. But she was a damn funny writer (even if I can’t quote some of my favorite lines here), and the world is a lesser place for her passing. Frankly, we could do a lot worse than a monarchy. Especially one run by Florence King.

Pat Harrington Jr. A/V Club.

Interesting career. He started out on “The Jack Paar Show” (or “The Steve Allen Show”, depending on which obit you read).

His film credits include “The Wheeler Dealers” (1963) and “Move Over, Darling” (1963), both starring James Garner; “The President’s Analyst” (1967), starring James Coburn; and “Easy Come, Easy Go” (1967), starring Elvis Presley.

Of course, he was most famous as Schneider on “One Day at a Time”.

Ashraf Pahlavi, sister of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

According to an internal secret history of the C.I.A., she also played a crucial role in the British- and American-inspired military coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and restored her brother to the throne.

Really? I wonder where the NYT got access to this “internal secret history”.

Obit watch: January 1, 2016.

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Wayne Rogers.

Unfortunately, his death seems to have fallen into the holiday gap, so everyone’s running the same AP obit. The LAT link above seems to be the most complete version.

Obit watch: December 28, 2015.

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Haskell Wexler, noted cinematographer.

Mr. Sayles said Mr. Wexler had once told him the story of being torpedoed. “He said the U-boat surfaced as the sailors were swimming to their lifeboats,” he said, “and they all were afraid it was coming up to machine-gun them. Instead, the captain lifted a small movie camera to document his kill, and Haskell remembered thinking, ‘I wonder if he’s shooting color or black and white?’”

Meadowlark Lemon.

“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen,” basketball great Wilt Chamberlain, Lemon’s onetime teammate, said in a television interview shortly before his death in 1999, as the Times reported. “People would say it would be Dr. J or even Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”

Edited to add: NYT obit wasn’t up previously, but is now.

NYT obit for George Clayton Johnson.

Obit watch: December 27, 2015.

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Robert D. Douglas Jr.

I hadn’t heard of him before the NYT obit, but he led an interesting life: he became an Eagle Scout in 1925. In 1928, he and two other Eagle Scouts were selected to go on a safari with Martin and Osa Johnson; the three Scouts later published a book about their experience. He later went hunting for whales and bears off the Alaskan coast (and wrote another book), flew with Amelia Earhart in an early autogyro, and spent more time in Alaska stomping around with “the Glacier Priest” (and got another book out of that).

This has been floating around for a few days, but I finally found an obit I was willing to link to: George Clayton Johnson. Johnson wrote several of the best “Twilight Zone” episodes (odds are, if the episode you’re trying to remember wasn’t a Matheson episode, it was one of his). He also wrote “The Man Trap” for “Star Trek”, the story that “Ocean’s 11″ was based on, and co-wrote “Logan’s Run”.

Yearly administrative note.

Friday, December 4th, 2015

This is your yearly reminder: if you use the Amazon search box on the right hand side of the page to buy stuff, I get a small kickback.

Said small kickback, as you all know, goes to purchasing toys for crippled orphans supporting this blog, mostly by enabling our purchases of Robert Ruark and Jack O’Connor books, along with other crap in general.

(Speaking of Ruark, I’m reminded that I have two historical notes coming up back to back before the year is over. One of those should be of some interest to Lawrence…)

(And speaking of Lawrence, I would be remiss if I did not note, as I do every year, that books from Lame Excuse Books make fine presents for the holidays, especially if you have SF or horror fans on your shopping list.)

I believe I recommended Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck last year, but I’ll plug it again as she deserves it.

Another book that was loaned to me by a friend, and that I’ve almost finished – I will be purchasing my own copy, so I have no qualms about recommending it – is Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I somehow missed this when it came out in 2012, but it’s a very good book about the psychology of introversion, how to cope with being an introvert, and how to cope with significant others/family members who are introverts (if you’re an extrovert) or extroverts (if you’re an introvert).

I don’t see a shipping date for Archer Season 6 yet, but How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written made me laugh more than a cheap TV tie-in book by some anonymous ghostwriter had any right to. (But get the Kindle edition, or a used copy.)

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Edited to add: Also. If I’ve managed to irritate you, please consider supporting the fine folks at Popehat through their Amazon link instead.

Also also: I haven’t given them any money, but I’ve always been kind of fond of the HouChron‘s “Goodfellows” program.

Also also also: the Reason Foundation is having their annual fundraising drive. And they will accept bitcoins, too.