Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Navy.

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

I remember Guy Lombardo from when I was a wee lad. Every New Year’s Eve up until roughly 1976, there was Guy and his Royal Canadian Orchestra hosting their New Year’s Eve special. Sometimes I was able to stay up and watch at least part of it.

I associated Guy and the RCO with Lawrence Welk and Liberace and, for want of a better word, the kind of music my maternal grandmother and grandfather liked. But at the time, there were only three real television channels, I never really got into Dick Clark, and “Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Orchestra” flowed trippingly off the tongue.

I hadn’t thought of Guy in years, until a few paragraphs in The Power Broker got me wondering about him. How did he end up hosting those specials? What else did he do, and where did he come from?

Wikipedia turned up one of those odd historical byways that I’m so fond of. In addition to being the leader of the Royal Canadians, Guy raced boats. Seriously raced boats. As in, he won the Gold Cup (which is the biggest prize in boat racing) in 1946.

From 1946 to 1949, he was the reigning US national champion. Before his retirement from the sport in the late 1950s, he had won every trophy in the field.

Before his retirement, he was planning to make a run at the world speed record on water. His retirement may have been prompted by the fact that the boat he was planning to use disintegrated during a test run.

(As a side note, that record isn’t for the timid. Wikipedia claims “an approximate fatality rate of 85% since 1940“, though it should also be noted that this statement is tagged “Citation needed.” No matter what the actual percentage is, looking over the history of attempts makes it very clear that this is an expensive way to kill yourself very fast if anything goes wrong.)

And what’s the relationship between Guy and Robert Moses that brought this up in the first place? Guy and his RCO were basically Robert Moses’ house band. Moses set them up at Jones Beach and gave them an incredibly sweet deal: Moses didn’t just pay Guy and RCO to play at the park, but also absorbed all the costs of running the venue, and allowed Guy and the RCO to keep most of the ticket money and advertising revenue. In return, not only did Guy and the RCO play at Jones Beach, but they also entertained at various other offical functions for Moses, and Moses used them to impress people he needed to impress. For example, if you had a small child and Moses needed your help with something…well, Guy entered the Jones Beach theater every night on one of his speedboats. Wouldn’t your kid love to ride along with Guy as he made his grand entrance in Tempo? Of course they would.

(There are a couple of good biographies that need to be written. I can’t find any evidence that there was ever one written of Guy and his brothers, and it sure seems there’s more to their story. I think you could also get a good book out of the story of Rosebud Yellow Robe.)

Obit watch: February 13, 2014.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Your Sid Caeser round-up: NYT.

Mr. Caesar once dangled a terrified Mr. Brooks from an 18th-story window until colleagues restrained him. With one punch, he knocked out a horse that had thrown his wife off its back, a scene that Mr. Brooks replayed in his movie “Blazing Saddles.”

LAT. A/V Club.

TMQ Watch: January 21, 2014.

Friday, January 24th, 2014

It is official. It is now impossible for us to care any less about the Super Bowl (or, as some are calling it, “The Pot Bowl”) than we do now.

But we still have this week’s TMQ to get through after the jump…


Obit watch: January 17, 2014.

Friday, January 17th, 2014

For the record: Russell Johnson. NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

(You know, I may not be terribly observant. But it never clicked with me that he was in “This Island Earth”, which I have seen (in the MST3K version)).

Dave Madden. NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

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

And, though I have never been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz, I do want to link to the A/V Club’s obit for Ruth Robinson Duccini, the last surviving female Munchkin. Jerry Maren, according to reports, is the last surviving Munchkin.

TMQ Watch: January 7, 2014.

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Ah, the promise of the new year. Ah, the promise of Gregg Easterbrook’s first column of the year. Ah, the promise of the playoffs.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ


TMQ watch: December 31, 2013.

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

More “we’re just not feeling the clever this week”. Might as well just open the box. After the jump, this week’s TMQ


TMQ Watch: December 17, 2013.

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

You know that comment we made yesterday, about “Start writing or stop talking about it” being pretty good writing advice?

This week’s TMQ after the jump…


Speak up, I can’t hear you.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

If you must know, I was looking up the “Ding Fries Are Done” meme when I stumbled across this entry at KnowYourMeme: The Family Guy Effect.

The Family Guy Effect is a postulated phenomenon asserting that when Internet memes are showcased on the animated television show Family Guy, the meme will see a brief burst in popularity, followed by an immediate sharp decline. Prior to being associated with Internet meme overexposure, the Family Guy effect was used to describe how a joke becomes less funny when repeated over time.

You. Don’t. Say.

The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I loved the “worst” lists published in various places. Jeff Millar‘s worst movies list in the HouChron. Siskel and Ebert’s “worst movies of the year” episode. High points, things I looked forward to every year.

(On a side note, it fills me with delight down to the bottom of my coal-black little heart that Siskel & has the complete 1992 worst up on their site. This is the year that Roger lost the coin flip and picked Shining Through as his worst movie of the year, complete with the interminable strudel scene. Really. I kid you not. Melanie Griffith just goes on. And on. AND ON. Here, watch for yourself:

Edited to add: Actually, go over to their web site and watch there, because whoever runs the site has decided to make embedded videos auto-play.

The Shining Through section begins at about 15:30, but you should really watch the whole thing.)

But things have changed. Siskel and Ebert and Millar are all dead. For a while, the AV Club was an acceptable substitute.

But this year’s AV Club is a little off. Take their worst movies of the year, for example. I admit I have not seen Planes (I don’t care for Pixar films) or A Good Day to Die Hard. But were they really among the worst movies of the year, in a year that included The Purge and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone? Worse than Last Vegas or the Carrie remake? At least Battle of the Year made their list. (Didn’t see it, but saw the trailer for it.)

Smurfs 2 came out this year. It isn’t on the AV Club list. Enough said.

Likewise, a “worst TV” list that doesn’t include Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, or Raising Hope is pretty much worthless, and tells me that the AV Club writers are either on drugs or taking payoffs from Fox.

But there is one thing I can count on, although it technically isn’t a “worst” list (except maybe of family disasters): the Carolyn Hax Hootenanny of Holiday Horrors. The 2013 edition is here.

All of the sudden she stuck out her hand and bellowed “SPOOOOOON!” at which point someone meekly handed her a spoon and she proceeded to stir the gravy.

(And dryer lint really is great for starting fires. Especially with a flint and steel. At least, that’s what I learned in the Boy Scouts.)

Edited to add more: someone on the AV Club posted a link to “The Dissolve”, aka “Where Many of the AV Club’s Most Interesting Writers Went to Languish In Obscurity”. And they have their own worst list, which I find…kind of credible.

Yeah, okay, the Die Hard movie is on it, and Smurfs 2 isn’t, but they do get points for reminding me of some other candidates for year’s worst movie. For example, The Internship, aka “A Two Hour Long Commercial for Google”, and Movie 43. Might be worth keeping an eye on this site in 2014.

Historical oddities (part 1 of, yes, yet another ongoing series).

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Discovered while Wiki-wandering: Charles Nelson Reilly was a survivor of the 1944 Hartford circus fire.

Western Civilization is doomed.

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Evidence for this proposition can be found here.

TMQ Watch: November 26, 2013.

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Over the past few years, we have come to the conclusion that the word “professional” is becoming the most abused word in the English language. “Professional grade” pickup trucks; as a dedicated amateur, can I save a few bucks by purchasing a non-professional grade one? “That’s not professional” has become a commonly used phrase in business; what that really means, as we see it, is “I don’t like it, but if I invoke the word ‘professional’, you can’t argue with me.”

What does this have to do with TMQ? Well, in this week’s edition, after the jump…