My Metric

Is it just me, or do most of the contestants on Jeopardy! these days fall into the following professions:

  • Teacher/Professor
  • Graduate student
  • Attorney
  • Public advocate of some sort
  • Non-profit employee of some sort

I really started noticing this trend when I started saying, “Get a real job!” to the television whenever contestants are announced in these professions.

Is it just me? If not, what does this mean and why do I think I won’t like it?

I Got Nothing, So I Wreak Some Lost Havoc

You know what I think is funny? Making up Lost spoileresque questions and adding them to comment threads on Facebook and whatnot.

Questions and comments like:

  • The return of Walt and Michael was way overdue!
  • Who built the statue of Vincent the dog on the Island, and why does it have octagons in the base motif?
  • When Walt becomes the new Jacob, will Aaron be the new black smoke?

Come on, with the absurd turns of events throughout the run of the show, surely you can devise some spoilers that will anger your friends for tipping them off to things that never happen. Leave your best in the comments below. No actual spoilers, please, since that’s no fun at all.

James Joyner Defenestrates Jon Stewart

Over at Outside the Beltway, Dr. James Joyner defenestrates the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart for hyperbole in blog titles.

Well, not really, since the playback is in the same window as the original post. But I wish we could see some post headlines that refer to defenestration more.

But I fear that energy efficient windows and closed HVAC-based environments have taken this word from our national vocabulary.

Meanwhile, as the link above throws the target site out of the current window, I have virtual defenestrated Dr. Joyner.

Pop Culture Prediction/Suggestion

Now that Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol, they need someone to fill his seat.

What is Anne Robinson doing?

After all, before Simon, she was the tart-tongued British dominatrix of American television. She’s probably available. And she’ll fill the minimum quota of one snarky British person dressed in black sucking up all the tabloids’ attention and television ratings that the United States offered as reparations for beating the UK in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

Book Report: TV Superstars ’82 by Ronald W. Lackmann (1982)

I couldn’t help it; I read another children’s book about television stars in the 1980s. See also books as historical documents week here at MfBJN. Earlier this year I read TV Close-ups, and in 2005 I read the next edition of this series, TV Superstars ’83. Unlike those books, I knew pretty much all the stars in this book. Perhaps 1982 was the pinnacle of my television viewing.

The book includes the stars from the programs The Dukes of Hazzard, One Day At A Time, The Greatest American Hero, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Little House on the Prairie, That’s Incredible!, WKRP in Cincinnati, CHiPs, Mork & Mindy, M*A*S*H, and The Incredible Hulk. I won’t enumerate them individually; either you know who they are, or you’re a damn kid.

I can summarize the bios for you: The superstar was shy/outgoing, decided to try acting, went to LA, became a superstar. A couple other things I noted: The attractive women were all attractive in an approachable, datable fashion, not in the trampy fashion of so many modern television superstars. And all the manly men were six foot tall and 160 pounds. You mean I have finally fought my way up to a manly weight–that is, to say, I’m as big as my father was, and all I had to do to match my boyhood heroes was hit 160? I feel gypped.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: TV Close-Ups by Peggy Herz (1974)

Yes, I really did read an elementary school fanbook about television shows on television in the early 1970s. This book talks about:

  • Gary Burghoff on M*A*S*H
  • Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie
  • Darren McGavin on Nightstalker
  • Patti Cahoon on Apple’s Way
  • Freddie Prinze on Chico and the Man
  • Kurt Russell on The New Land
  • Valerie Harper on Rhoda
  • Clifton Davis on That’s My Mama
  • Ron Howard on Happy Days
  • Angie Dickinson on Police Woman
  • Roddy MacDowall on Planet of the Apes (the television series).

Looking at that list, I have only seen 3 or 4 of the series; most were not even in syndication from the time I remember watching television. Some I remember from other roles. Some I know of only because his son starred in the classic film Wing Commander.

Each little snippet tells a heartwarming story about the actor/actress, the causes he/she favors, and the hard road to stardom.

At this snapshot moment in time, these celebrities are at the top of their games and, in many cases, their careers. 35 years later, we don’t remember most of them. Sadly, ten years after the book appeared, we didn’t remember most of them.

This fits in well with the stoic works of Marcus Aurelius, which warns about the fleeting nature of fame.

Books mentioned in this review:

When Famous Chickens Go Bad

We let our toddler watch football on Sunday, and during the commercials, he’s subject to many, many, er, disconcerting images. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles ads run in heavy rotation, featuring explosions and belligerent robots firing weapons of all sorts. Each new gory horror movie that opens runs its ads to catch the young (but not that young) male football viewer, so there’s always someone screaming and being dragged away by ghouls, demons, ghosts (not Gus) and whatnot. Additionally, he gets to see plenty of ads featuring Barack Obama’s plan for America, things which frighten me to no end.

We try to distract him with books, toys, or questions during the particularly malevolent commercials. When he’s seen them, though, he has remained unfazed because he’s too young, probably, to understand what the images depict. One commercial, however, caused him to burst into tears. This horror:

Man, I love that commercial because anything with an enraged Famous Chicken in it is hilarity encapsulated in 30 seconds. But the boy? Freaked out.

One thing he can imagine, poor guy, is stuffed animals coming to life and threatening violence.

By the way, if you cannot get enough of The Famous Chicken, here’s his official Web site.

Just don’t browse it with my son around.

Internet Geekery Lets Me Down

So I did an image search for cylon assimilated borg, and I don’t get a picture of an old school centurion with paraphernalia.

I thought that maybe, just maybe, someone would have created an image in 1997 or something that combined the two motifs, back before “cylon” was merely a hot chick in a tight dress or battle uniform. Oh, but no.

I hope you all feel ashamed of yourselves.

Lost Theory

Benjamin Linus is Morpheus, and Charles Widdmore is Agent Smith/the Machines. The island is Zion. Locke is Neo, and Jack is Cypher.

That should ruin it for you, and make you kind of dread the coming explanations and denuoements that will quite probably suck.

You’re welcome.

Not What Taco Bell Had In Mind

A Taco Bell commercial apparently ran during the newscast near the story about university porn club captured here. As a result, the Taco Bell commercial freeze frame displays with the headline that probably doesn’t build the brand equity Yum brands wanted:

Taco Bell frame, frozen

Double funny: the commercial features the character on the left air-whipping the fellow on the right while Devo’s “Whip It” loops.

Triple funny: The pull quote says entail. Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh.

Book Report: Nick at Nite’s Classic TV Companion edited by Tom Hill (1996)

This book, written right after Nick at Nite’s 10th anniversary, comes from the days when Nick at Nite was TV Land before TV Land became its own channel and Nick at Nite began showing whatever it shows now.

This book is an episode guide for some of the more popular classic television shows that Nick at Nite aired, including:

  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Welcome Back, Kotter
  • I Love Lucy
  • Bewitched
  • Taxi
  • The Munsters
  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • The Bob Newhart Show
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show

I can almost count the number of episodes of these I’ve seen on television. A couple from Welcome Back, Kotter, certainly, and one from The Dick Van Dyke Show because it was on one of those dollar DVDs you can pick up in the grocery store that contains 4 old television shows. I know I’ve watched episodes of some of the others and snippets of all of them, but for the life of me, I couldn’t match the scenes to the episodes.

Hopefully, I’ve picked up some useful trivia in the months I’ve spent working on this book a little at a time. The book also triggered in me a slight urge to pick up DVDs of some of the shows so I could watch them in the original order–imagine that; ten years later, the book isn’t triggering an urge to watch the cable station whose brand is on the book, but to consume the shows in another format entirely. But I won’t act on it that quickly.

The chapters are introduced with a section on when the show first aired on Nick at Nite and a compendium of quotes about the series from other books. Ergo, the introductory matter was meaningless. However, some of the episodic addenda was interesting: little footnotes about recurring actors playing different roles, singing and dancing numbers within the shows, or breaks in continuity.

Worth a buck if you have five hundred pages of reading time to spare and enjoy old television shows.

Books mentioned in this review:

It’s Either A Dream Or Alternate Universes

I’m not sure how television people plan to pull this off:

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” is based on the character from the “Terminator” movies and essentially moves her and her son, John, to New York where they prepare to stop running and fight back.

They could easily run afoul of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and its its books which don’t talk much about John Connor in New York.

But you know what would be cool? A Terminator-based series about Sarah Connor going to Washington and lobbying/protesting against the computerization of the military. Because that would have message, baby!