Monday, January 30, 2012

"...And You Read Your Emily Dickinson...And I, My Robert Frost...And We Note Our Place With Bookmarkers...In This Week's Issue Of TV Guide..."

Emily Dickinson would have been a world class television critic.

(For those whose exposure to poetry and/or poets has been limited to more contemporary purveyors as Hoops and YoYo, here's a link to Emily's bio...

Admittedly, the lady had game when it came to rhyme and verse.

But she was, apparently, also possessed of a prescience regarding the eventual evolution of network TV.

A pudding full of proof momentito.

Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment production company is partnering with couple Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television to launch a new reality competition that will search for the world's best deejays.

The format of the new international TV series, which is being produced by Sony and co-produced by Syco and Overbrook, has been in development for over a year. Broadcast partners in the U.S. and U.K. will be announced soon, according to the partners.

"We have been working on this show for over a year and we wanted to partner with the right people. As soon as I met Jada and Miguel from Overbrook, I knew they would be our ideal partners. DJ's are the new rock stars, it feels like the right time to make this show," Cowell, who also executive produces The X Factor and America's Got Talent, said in a statement.

Pinkett-Smith said she's excited to feature a new type of talent on reality TV different from its usual singers and dancers.

"This show will comb the world to find a new breed of talent," the actress explained. "I am happy to be creating it alongside Simon Cowell, the Sony team, and my partner Miguel Melendez, on behalf of the Overbrook family."

"We are thrilled to be working with Simon Cowell and our partners at Overbrook on what we know will be a tremendously successful global format," Andrea Wong, President of International Production for Sony, added.

Never a fan of the reality show concept, I suppose any critical comment I have to make here should include an asterisk.

Because, obviously, as evidenced by their success, reality shows have found themselves a willing and waiting audience.

There is, of course, a wonderful, sub-textual case to be made for the idea that the popularity of reality shows can be traced right back to the intrinsic human urge to peek into other people's lives and/or windows.

You say realism.

I say voyuerism.

Potato, patahto, tomato, tamahto.

Prurient predilections aside, I think it only fair to admit that the concept did, in fact, generate interest, even excitement, upon its inception, if only because it was new, different, something out of the ordinary.

Kind of like Taco Bell serving breakfast.

At some point, though, the novelty, as novelties will, begins to wear off and, with a few, rare exceptions, the appeal, having reached the top of the curve, begins a pretty rapid (read: screaming) descent toward the ground.

Kind of like Taco Bell serving breakfast.

Nothing succeeding like success, though, it's inevitable that with each new day will come yet another new idea, usually from those who have, to date, profited most from ideas already executed.

Which brings us to "the world's best deejays".

An idea whose time has come...if only to offer unimpeachable proof that the concept really is, honest to God, running out of ideas.

Nothing succeeding like success, though, with each new day comes yet new possibilities that there might still be life left in the genre', that the final, even close to resembling the last desperate drops of intelligence might still remain to be wrung out of the satellite dishrag and sprinkled over an ever thirsty, voyeuristic viewing audience.

Evidence, alas, to the contrary.

Still, all things are possible. The best might be yet to come.

One can only hope.

Which is why Emily Dickinson would have been a world class television critic.

"Hope is the thing with feathers...that perches in the soul..."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"...You Can't Have Classic Comedy Without Class..."

Here's two thoughts you don't automatically connect every day.

Mary Tyler Moore.


(By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic)

In recent months the name Mary Tyler Moore has been bandied about with unexpected regularity bordering on reckless abandon. This is not just because she recently made her first TV appearance in many moons on pal Betty White's show "Hot in Cleveland" or because she proved at last month's televised fete for White's 90th birthday that she can still rock a white pantsuit or even because she is receiving this year's Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award on Sunday.

Instead, Moore's name keeps coming up because 42 years after she helped create the single-gal comedy genre, a slew of female-centric shows hit the networks, raising hopes that a new version of the classic and still-resonant "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" would emerge. (It hasn't.)

By midseason, critics were blatantly holding up the new to the old. "No Mary Richards" was how several chose to characterize the fictionalized version of comedian Chelsea Handler in her new show, "Are You There, Chelsea?" Well, no, obviously not, since Mary was a well-dressed, carefully coiffed professional woman trying to balance a career and a meaningful personal life and Chelsea's show is centered on a bartender/drunken skank

If anyone involved hopes Moore herself is watching, I'm here to tell you that's she's not. "Oh, I don't watch any of them," she said recently from her office in New York. "Why would I? That story has been done, and I think we did it pretty well. I don't need to watch another version."

Perhaps to see the new gals break a few taboos?

"Taboos?" she asks with a laugh, "there aren't any taboos anymore."

It's difficult to argue with her when "2 Broke Girls'" Max (Kat Dennings), the character who may come closest to Mary Richards (she is hard-working, talented and yet insecure), insists on saying "vagina" so often one assumes there is a special bell that rings in the writers room every time she does.

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which debuted in 1970, both satirized and captured the era's widespread and seismic change. Mary Richards, having bravely broken up with the med student she supported for two years, is now trying to make it on her own, with the help of her newsroom buddies and best friends, the tough-talking Rhoda (Valerie Harper) and the dithering modern parent Phyllis (Cloris Leachman).

There had never been a character, or show, like it. On top of the shaky new independent women it portrayed, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" joined groundbreaking shows like "All in the Family" in addressing timely and often serious topics in a comedic way — and by providing a template for what would eventually become modern TV's beloved dramedy.

"Comedy shows were getting more and more real," she says. "It was a funny show but not really a comedy like the old comedies." She credits the writers, including Jim Brooks and Allan Burns, with elevating the show to its iconic heights, something she doesn't think the networks are interested in doing these days.

"Carol Burnett and I were talking about how you couldn't do the shows we did because the union fees have skyrocketed and the writers and the cast make it so expensive," she says.

She and Burnett had reunited for the Betty White celebration where Moore also met up with her other "Mary Tyler Moore" co-stars, including Leachman, Harper, Ed Asner and Gavin MacLeod. They don't see one another often, she says, because "they're all Westies and I live in New York," but they remain like a family — she came out of retirement to guest star on White's "Hot in Cleveland," spoofing her Mary-good-girl-Richards persona and turning Asner's famous Lou Grant line — "You got spunk. I hate spunk" — on its head.

She enjoyed the experience and admires White and Leachman for staying in the game. "Betty always did have more energy than any of us," she says, "and Cloris, what's great about her is she always does a role that's completely different." But she's pretty content doing what she's doing. "I have a nice life, a good marriage [to Dr. Robert Levine] finally.

Which doesn't mean we should count her out. "If a really good part came along, a good script, I'd consider it," she says. She's a fan of "The Good Wife." What about playing Diane's (Christine Baranski) aunt or something? "She's great," Moore says of Baranski, adding with a very Mary Richards laugh, "yeah, yeah, I'll mention it to my agent."

One inherent challenge in writing, and/or lamenting, about any current state of culture as compared to any past state is the inevitable knee jerk "old fart fogey" factor. The theory that gray hair and an assumed lack of "hip" automatically disqualifies anyone over the age of say, 40, from pointing out the flaws in any contemporary cultural contribution.

Put in a less Roget's manner..."Whitney" is some funny shit, old person, and "Mary Tyler Moore" is like, so, a hundred years ago."

The fly in that ointment, or flaw in that observation as the case may be, is that it unavoidably throws out the baby of legitimate criticism with the water of ancient rivers.

And, as with religion and politics, it's almost always an exercise in futility trying to convince someone of an opposing point of view by employing conventional methods of convincing someone of an opposing point of view.

In situations like that, or this, I find it helpful to rely on more unconventional methods.

Like armpits.


Mary Tyler Moore.


Resisting the temptation of getting drawn into a point by point debate on the comedic merits, or lack, of one generation's performers versus another's, let's focus on the real issue.

It's not about comedic.

It's about iconic.

Personal preferences, generational tastes, individual sensibilities all notwithstanding, I think it a pretty fair, balanced and age group neutral safe bet that, come fifty years from now, neither Chelsea Handler nor Whitney Cummings (and while we're at it, let's throw in Kathy Griffin as additional empirical proof that this is really not about age) are likely to be featured in a major media article trumpeting the pending celebration of their "Lifetime Achievement Awards" from SAG or anyone/anything else, for that matter.

Fair enough?

Okay. Now, that concession aside, I will concede that comedy, subjective little scamp that it is, has always been and always will be, is righteously, and rightfully, fully in the mind's eye of the beholder.

In other words, they're not a thimble of mirth, let alone my cup of tea, comedically speaking, but I sincerely understand that there are people who think that Chelsea Handler, Whitney Cummings, Kathy Griffin (and while we're at it, let's throw in Will Ferrell in "Land Of The Lost" as additional empirical proof that this is not really about gender, either) are genuinely funny.

Just as genuinely funny as was that one kid that we all shared, at least, one class with in middle or high school who kept us in silly stitches with their comedic genius for making fart noises...

...with their armpits.

And, fair being fair, we all totally remember that comedic genius made those noises.

We just don't remember their names.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"...Coming This Fall To NBC....The Wacky, Fun Filled Adventures of The Caligula Family!..."

Props to Reader's Digest, it's time for "increase your word power".

Referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way.


“Why do people say "grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding”
― Betty White

This is, as my father's generation would offer, one funny broad.

For those who would like to repeat that analogy but might have a little problem with the R rated nature of the V word, though, I have an alternate suggestion.

Coming up right after this.

With every generation comes certain rites of passage. Benchmarks and/or milestones that, while inevitable, are only apparent as they are experienced.

Usually, these moments come in some form of "that was/this is'. Or as it has been phrased in a more pedestrian fashion, "in my day...".

And, again, in those cases, most often it's about music or art or movies or something/anything that brings into sharp and unavoidable focus the contrast between what "was" and what "is".

Believe it or not, for example, it was not so long ago that The Rolling Stones, for example, were considered to be Satan's own spawn and the music/presentation they offered was, in the eyes/ears of that generation's parents, almost certainly a one way ticket to eternal damnation.

Today, of course, the Stones are just some old guys who are fondly remembered by that generation and, at best, politely tolerated by today's generation.

Believe it or not, for example, it was not so long ago that sitcom characters could not share a bed, even if married. Check out any TV Land rerun of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" or, even "I Love Lucy" and you will see nary a double, let alone queen or king, bed to be found in said boudoir.

Today, of course, a sitcom featuring a robust rumpy pumpy requires nothing more than two individuals, regardless of gender, ready to ride whether they have a saddle or not.

Let alone a bed.

And believe it or not, it was not so long ago that the idea of skipping school for a day and wandering around the city in a "borrowed" car was considered such an outlaw adventure that an entire feature film portrayed just such an escapade, becoming a classic example of youthful rebellion.

Even going so far as to...wait for it....treat a snotty maitre'd with disrespect.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

He was a righteous dude.

From my admittedly lofty, albeit Ben Gay scented, perch of elder statesman status, I reminisced today that I was an impressionable elementary school student growing up assuming that Rob and Laura and Ricky and Lucy were blissfully happy regardless of how much space they had to negotiate to procreate, a young teen in danger of losing my immortal soul by being in Sympathy For The Devil, via Mick and Keith and a young man with young kids of my own when Ferris and Cameron and Sloan made a ruin of Rooney with their adolescent antics.

And, now, here I am, still in relative possession of my faculties and bearing witness to a world filled with Kourtneys and Khloes and Kims (oh, my).

Not to mention Gagas and Sitches and Snookis. (on Donner and Blitzen).

Not to mention "Family Guy" that makes "The Simpsons" come off like "Ozzie and Harriet".

And chuckle though I might at the wisdom and obvious wit of the wonderful Ms. White, I believe, as mentioned earlier, I can offer up a more "family friendly" option for retelling the aforementioned ribaldry in such a raucous fashion.

Having been inspired, as it turns out, by fifty years, give or take, of witnessing the continued cultural pushing of the envelope.

To wit...

“Why do people say "grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow an envelope. Those things can take a pounding”

Friday, January 27, 2012

"...Made You Look... Quote, Unquote..."

Nothing gets the day going like a hefty mug of half caf and a splash of the "old switcheroo".

The former I brewed myself.

The latter was a headline cooked up by an AP writer on Yahoo's homepage.

"Kids try to bury big family secret in 'Yosemite'..."

Being, simultaneously, sentimentally attached to many of our national parks and naturally, even morbidly, inclined, along with my fellow mere mortals, to enjoy a modest modicum of murderous mayhem in the morning, I laid into that link and braced myself a little for what I was sure would be a prurient presentation of patricide.

Only to discover that the advertised "kids" "family" and "secret", et al were merely components of a new off-Broadway production entitled....wait for it....


Okay, having worked in, and around, the creative arts for most of my life, I'm as totally down as down can be with the concept of marketing a piece, be it musical or theatrical and whatever little tricks or gimmicks one might employ to get the attention of the already mentally overloaded mass audience.

And having done what some would offer was way more than my fair share of radio through the years, I'm not only hip to, but, if I do say so myself, pretty damn accomplished at what is colloquially known as "the tease".

So, while I wasn't particularly bunged about having been mistaken about my initial impression of what that headline would reveal, a couple of pickable bones did make an appearance.

First, I really do like a well executed tease as much as the next guy.

The key phrase there is "well executed".

This one seems to have reached just a teeny weeny bit over the line marked "reaching".

And even allowing for the little "wink wink" that provided a clue in the headline, the placing of the word 'Yosemite' in quotation marks indicating that all was not going to be what it was "advertised" to be, I'd still vote for "reaching" when it came to the aforementioned well executed "tease".

Second, I'm not familiar with the writer here, Jennifer Farrar, except that she, obviously, writes for the Associated Press, but having re-read the piece a time or two, my honest impression of her editorial style is that she is either...

a) ...writing her "reviews" while distracted by a phone call, TV program or fire drill.
b) ...writing her "reviews" by typing while she reads right out of a book entitled "1001 Cliche Theatrical Review Phrases".
c) ...the most promising talent to be found in her eighth grade journalism class.
d) ...all of the above

Third, whatever else the advent of the Internet has, or has not, positively contributed, to date, to mankind, one thing is crystal clear.

It ain't done nobody no good no how when it comes to advancing the evolution of social commentary and/or discourse.

Evidence of offered opinion to be found by...

a) reading Farrar's "review"
b) reading the less than erudite "observations" of the majority of those viewing the review.

Not singly but, most succinctly, exampled with the contribution of Sidney from Sacramento, California.

...I was expecting a story about Yosemite. Maybe some nice pictures. What a waste of time...

Aw, come on, Sidney. You got pulled into the old switcheroo.

No harm done. Show a little sense of humor.

Buffy Cary, on the other hand, seems to have gone completely off the deep end.

No quotes on deep end either.

...Kathryn Erbe is SUCH an amazing actress....

"Actress" ?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"...Thank Heaven The Commandante' Didn't Have Access To The Scoreboard..."

Here's two names you don't often see linked together.

Antonio Banderas.

Billy Cundiff.

Link and explanation momentarily.

(Yahoo Sports) No one has provided more information on Billy Cundiff's miss than Stefan Fatsis, author of "A Few Seconds of Panic," a book about his brief stint as a backup kicker with the Denver Broncos in training camp. For Deadspin, Fatsis has talked with Cundiff and has his own uniquely qualified perspective on the yank.

To summarize — and you should go read the whole thing — Cundiff has a specific routine he follows when the Ravens get into field goal range. On first down, he does one thing. On second, something else. Third, something else. Unfortunately, the Patriots scoreboard had the down wrong, which threw Cundiff out of whack.

On Sunday, during what would be the Ravens' final set of downs, Cundiff completed his first-down prep and checked the scoreboard: second down. He ran through his routine and looked up at the scoreboard again: third down.

Then, suddenly, chaos on the sidelines.

Coaches were screaming—from the opposite end of the field to where Cundiff was thinking his third-down pre-kick kicker thoughts—for the field-goal unit. The play clock was ticking and Cundiff, as per normal, was back from the sideline and farther from the line of scrimmage than his teammates. As he was not expecting to go in yet, he had to run to get into position for a game-tying kick.

So there it is. The scoreboard was wrong, Cundiff was rushed, and his mechanics on the kick went goofy. I don't pass this along as any kind of an excuse for Cundiff — you can decide for yourself if his miss is excusable or something that even needs excusing — but it's an explanation.

Here's another question, though: Is it possible that the Patriots did this on purpose? Did they have their scoreboard operator display the wrong down, to mess with Cundiff's routine? Ravens kicking consultant Randy Brown is wondering that same thing. Via CBS Philly, Brown said to Angelo Cataldi on WIP in Baltimore, "I don't think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?"

It seems like a tremendous stretch to me. Since it's the Patriots, some level of dishonesty and underhandedness will be assumed, but I'll be surprised and more than a little impressed if it's somehow uncovered that they hatched a scheme with knowledge of Billy Cundiff's pre-kick routine and a scoreboard operator as a confederate.

I'm much more likely to believe it was an honest mistake. The Ravens thought they had a first down a few plays prior, when Anquan Boldin fumbled the ball out of bounds. They didn't. The ball was placed at the spot of the fumble, not the spot where it went out of bounds. The Ravens themselves were confused about the down, and it's far easier to believe that the scoreboard operator was, too.

I suppose since I am, and have never been, neither a trained athlete nor more than just a casual football fan/follower, some slack cutting should be offered on my part when it comes to getting my head around the idea that Billy Cundiff's job is, apparently, more complicated than I would have imagined.

Upon reading of Cundiff's intricate and borderline Sheldon Cooper-esque pre-kick routine, though, I have to confess the first name that popped into my head was...Antonio Banderas.

In the first (and in my o, best) of the two "Zorro" films that Banderas made, there is a wonderful scene where the Banderas character, Alejandro, the, as yet, untrained, untried "Fox" to be is asked, by the wise, but wizened and world weary "Fox I", Don Diego, if he, Alejandro, knows how to use a fencing sword.

With a charming look of both surprise and "duhh", Alejandro replies "the pointy end goes into the other man."

We live in a world of excuses.

The simple act of taking responsibility for one's actions, most especially one's mistakes and/or failings, seems to have gone the way of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the eight track tape player.

Credit where due, it's not Cundiff personally offering up any "hey, don't blame me"s here, but the fact that this article ever saw the light of day is proof enough that the mea culpa grows more obsolete with each passing generation.

This concludes the "tsk, tsk" portion of the program.

As far as the Billy/Banderas connection is concerned, though, here's the kicker.

Pun inevitable.

While I'm not so ignorant as to think that the art of place kicking is not without its nuances and subtleties nor espouse that simply because it looks easy to do that it is, in fact, easy to do, I admit that I was more than a little surprised to read the amount of detail, planning, processing, choreographing and systematizing involved in, at least, Cundiff's style of acquiring the one or three points available at the end of his toe.

The pointy end goes into the other man.

The ball gets kicked between the two poles in the end zone.

Wind, rain, snow, icy field, sloppy grass, all of these this untrained eye can see would be factors.

Which down is listed on the scoreboard?

Not so much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"...The Skinny On Slim Down Sayonaras..."

New Year's resolutions traditionally begin on January 1.

Everybody knows that.

Here's something I bet you didn't know.

First, though...

Seen any good weight loss commercials lately?

Sure you have.

Today, after taking care of my chores and tasks like a good worker bee, I was satisfying my minimum daily requirement of syndicated reruns (today's menu features "Law and Order {SVU and non}, "Friends" and an occasional surf back over to the TCM all day birthday tribute to Ernest Borgnine), when it dawned on me that nary a commercial break had come and gone during my viewing time that did not include, at least, one appearance of Marie Osmond, Jennifer Hudson and/or some "regular folks just like you and me" cordially hawking the merits of Nutri System, Weight Watchers and/or Jenny Craig.

Being the connect the dots kind of guy I am, I began the process of processing in order to connect the dots.

This particular dot matrix shakes out like this.

Post December 25th each year, sharing time and space with the after Christmas sales hype comes the avalanche of weight loss hype in anticipation of those holiday revelers who find themselves preparing to ring in the new with more of themselves than rang in the old.

And, of course, the traditional New Year's resolve to be less a person in said new year.

Best intentions, and all that, notwithstanding, though, it's pretty much a given that the majority of folks making the majority of resolutions will, in fairly short order, be giving up on the majority of resolutions made.

It's only, like the ceremonial dropping of that Times Square ball, a matter of time.

Resolutions, for the most part, have a shelf life.

Everybody knows that.

Here's what you might not have known until now.

Resolutions also have an exact expiration date.

Judging from the sudden slew of slim down sales pitches on the screen...

...that expiration date looks to be January 24.

"...Hmmm...The Lion King III Must Have Been Delayed...."

Learn something new every day.

Today is no exception.

Oscar nominations just announced.

Weeding through pretty much the "same old, same old", a couple of lists caught my eye.

Best picture

"War Horse"

"The Artist"


"The Descendants"

"The Tree of Life"

"Midnight in Paris"

"The Help"


"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Original song

“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”

“Real in Rio” from “Rio”

Ten best picture nominees.

Two best song nominees.

Like I said, learn something new every day.

The nominations, you say?

Oh, yeah, those, too.

What I was learned today was this.

Apparently, both Randy Newman and Elton John decided not to work in Hollywood this past year.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"...What Matters Most Is Mostly What's The Matter...."

Picture this.

CNN's homepage at this writing.

Notice they are front page featuring both Gabrielle Giffords and Joe Paterno.

That seems about right.

Or, at least, half right.

Sign of the times, and current cultural priorities, that CNN thought to put both of these people on their front page this morning.

In exactly the reverse order of space and size they respectively deserve.

Picture that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"...On Maestros...And Mortals..."

Sad day.

In so many ways.

State College, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Joe Paterno, whose tenure as the most successful coach in major college football history ended abruptly in November amid allegations that he failed to respond forcefully enough to a sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant, died Sunday, a family spokesman said. He was 85.

The longtime Penn State head coach was diagnosed with what his family had called a treatable form of lung cancer shortly after the university's Board of Trustees voted to fire him.

He had been hospitalized in December after breaking his pelvis in a fall at his home and again in January for what his son called minor complications from his cancer treatments.

"It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today," the family statement said. "His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled."

The gracious thing to do, with this passing, is send thoughts, prayers and well wishes to the family and let it go at that.

Joe Paterno's life, from conception to completion, makes that an inevitable, and regrettable, impracticality.

That said, speculation of any kind is both inappropriate and insensitive.

Judgement, of any kind, even more so.

What is also inevitable, and regrettable, though is a simple, fair and reasonable truth.

If Joe Paterno sincerely knew nothing about the horrific behavior of Jerry Sandusky, then any tainting of the coach's character, reputation or legacy is both egregiously undeserved and unfair.

If Joe Paterno knew about the horrific behavior and chose to act in any other way but that which would prevent any child from harm, then he, as any of us would rightly be, is accountable for that failure to act.

In either case, it's not for us to say.

And neither vitriolic recrimination nor shows of blind faith support are appropriate.

Judgement, as the old sayeth goes...

The gracious thing to do, with this passing, is send thoughts, prayers and well wishes to the family and let it go at that.

Sad day.

In so many ways.

"...Say Cheesy..."

Here's a common cranky.

Not being crazy about having one's picture taken.

Personally, and not to engage in superfluous splitting of hairs, but I think we all, secretly, like to have our pictures taken, being the essentially possessed of low self esteem, grateful for any and all attention underneath it all flawed mere mortals that, truth be told, we all are.

And the whole "not liking it" thing is simply self deprecation in disguise, a pro-active, pre-emptive effort to satirize and/or sabotage the outcome before anyone else has the chance to do it.

Put simply, a pixelated management of expectations.

Another photographic psychobabble comes to mind here.

It turns out that we really do appreciate the way we look in pictures.

Once we have evidence of the way we once looked in pictures.

Something along the lines of "well, I'm not crazy about the way I look here, but, thank God and Eastman Kodak that I don't look as ridiculous as I did __________".

Admittedly, this isn't unfailingly true for everyone.

Some people really do photograph well from the get go and then lose that sparkle, shine and/or waistline as time marches on.

This sociological/physiological tendency resulted in the Godsend technological advance known as Photoshop.

That said, most of us find that the camera cringe factor is less in the here and now than when reliving the there and then.

And with a little application of a healthy sense of humor, we can look back with graciousness and gratitude that what we thought looked good years ago makes how we look now a stone cold case of looking good.

To wit...this picture from my checkered past appeared, courtesy of one of my precocious children, on Facebook recently.

The picture is thirty years old, give or take trip around the sun or two.

And, while remembering the times, I do not remember ever seeing this picture before.

My first reaction was two fold.

And acyronmic.



And, at this moment, a third emotion has arrived.

At this moment, I'm looking pretty good.

How about a song?

Friday, January 20, 2012

"...Diamonds...and Rubies...In The Rough...."

Just had a Kenny Rogers moment.

More precisely, a Mel Tillis moment.

For those, either culturally or generationally, who find the references obscure, permit me a few lines of back story.

Kenny Rogers was a very successful country/pop singer.

Mel Tillis was a very successful country singer and songwriter.

Mel Tillis wrote and recorded a song that did fairly well for him on the country charts.

Kenny Rogers recorded the same song and did phenomenally well for himself, and Mel, on the pop charts.

"Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town".

Digging through the celeb dumpsters this morning, I came across a story that activated my Mel music memory chip, playing the first line of said superhit.

" painted up your lips / and rolled and curled your tinted hair...".

The story that conjured up the country song, though, wasn't about a Ruby.

It was about a Snooki.

Yesterday Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of "Jersey Shore" tweeted pictures herself without liner, lashes, blush, bronzer, or, in fact, any makeup at all.

"No make up day :) and IDC :)," Polizzi wrote.
The consensus was that she looked really good without all the extra glitz.

I haven't been bashful about my disdain for "Jersey Shore" in general or, specifically, the whole "cheap" girls and guys presentation that frames the whole thing.

But, on a purely "non-partisan" basis, here's my impression of the au natural Nicole vs. the slathered up Snooki.

Nicole is an attractive young woman.

And neither needs, nor benefits from, the paint job that turns her into, at best, a caricature of the girl in high school that everybody "dated" but nobody took home to meet mama.

But, sexist stereotypes notwithstanding, there's a couple of obvious, more insidious issues hidden underneath the hues and shades.

First, the slathering screams lack of self esteem.

Long before there was a Snooki, I was beating a drum in print and on air about the lopsided message that contemporary culture, mostly the testosterone soaked faction, sends to women regarding the need to "paint and curl and roll and tint".

My bumper sticker philosophy on the whole matter has been oft repeated.

"God made women beautiful....Maybelline and Max Factor spend millions trying to convince women that they're not....think about it".

I still don't much care for Snooki or JWoww or The Sitch (or Sleepy or Grumpy or Dopey or Doc, for that matter) but I'd be the first person to tell Nicole that she's a good looking girl who should take a pass on the Maybelline and Max Factor and go with what God gave her.

Given the show's ratings, there's not much chance that Snook is going to stop taking her love to town.

Seems, though, like all that painting and rolling and curling and tinting is a waste of a pretty face.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"...If Only The Brightness Control Worked On The Programming, Too..."

An abstract idea; a general notion.
A plan or intention; a conception.

In television, that word is ordinarily defined as whatever premise a particular show offers the viewer.

Admittedly, while, theoretically, all television shows have a premise, the sometimes glaring inevitability is that some shows do not.

Unless you stretch the point.

Beyond what you learned in high school was the maximum amount of stretching possible in any universe we know to exist.

For example...if asked, how would you define the premise of "Jersey Shore"?

Or, stretching the point even past existing physical laws, "Keeping Up With The Kardashians"?

The more clever and/or devious among us could, of course, play the circular logic card here.

The premise of these shows, and others like them, being that they have no discernible premise.

A 21st Century spin on the whole "show about nothing" concept that Seinfeld and company milked and mined so successfully.

But that undeniably smacks of the "I meant to do that" school of rationalizing falling flat on our asses.

The paradox being, of course, that "Seinfeld" was a fictional "show about nothing" while Snooki and Kourtney and Kim (oh, my..) are, in fact, actual shows about nothing.

Meanwhile, back at the flat screen.

Historically, the most successful shows in television have been, in fact, less about premise than about performance, less about concept than about connection.

In television comedy, for example, think about iconic programs and their "premise".

"I Love Lucy'...a bandleader and his wife live in an apartment.

"The Andy Griffith Show"...a small town sheriff and his family live in a small town.

"The Dick Van Dyke Show"...a TV writer and his family live in suburbia.

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show"...a TV producer lives in an apartment.

"Happy Days"...a hardware store owner and his family live in 50's suburbia.

"Cheers"...a group of people hang out in a bar.

"Frasier"...a radio psychiatrist lives in a swanky apartment with his father.

"Friends"...a bunch of friends hang out together in a coffee shop.

Sensing a pattern here?

Can't imagine any of those "taglines" impressing any network executive sufficiently to insure a sale.

Russell Dalrymple, maybe. (Obscure, but trivially delightful, historic TV reference).

The aforementioned shows, though, all, in their execution, shared two common qualities.

Common qualities, that ironically, are very uncommon in the big picture of what makes its way to our big home screens.

Qualities, I think, that this program offers up in spades.

Apologists and/or advocates of other currently successful sitcoms like "Two and Half Men", for example, will offer them up as programs worthy of inclusion on any list of seminal sitcoms.

Insert short, sharp sound of annoying buzzer here.

"Ohhh, I'm sorry, that's incorrect...thanks for playing our game and what do we have for our contestants, Johnny...?"

Here's the subtle, but key, difference.

"Two and Half Men" is funny.

People have been laughing at gas passing and wink-wink sexual double entendre's for generations now.

And "funny" is, in fairness to Kutcher and Cryer and Sheen (oh, my...), one of the two aforementioned qualities all iconic comedies share.

But, to put it simply and, arguably, arrogantly, any fool can get a laugh by cutting the cheese or referencing the rumpy pumpy.

That might make the situation funny.

But it doesn't make it smart.

"The Big Bang Theory", like the best of television comedy throughout the generations, never settles for the easy laugh.

The writers and the wonderfully diverse cast obviously work hard to make it look easy.

That's smart.

And funny.

What a concept.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"...If It Please The Court, We Respectfully Submit That The Founding Fathers Clearly Meant For T&A To Be A Part Of The Bill Of Rights..."

"The problem with Scotland", Longshanks said with a sardonic smirk, "is that it's full of Scots."

Funny moment in an otherwise pretty depressing situation.

I think I can top that.

First, check this out.

A Colorado teenager whose yearbook picture was rejected for being too revealing is vowing to fight the ban with her high school’s administration, but the editors of the yearbook insist it was their decision alone on the photo.

The five student editors of the Durango High School yearbook in Durango, Col., told the Durango Herald they were the ones who made the call not to publish a picture of senior Sydney Spies posing in a short yellow skirt midriff and shoulder-exposing black shawl as her senior portrait.

“We are an award-winning yearbook. We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional,” student Brian Jaramillo told the paper on Thursday.

Spies was joined by her mother, Miki Spies, and a handful of fellow Durango High students and alumni in a protest outside the school Wednesday after, she said, administrators informed her the photo would not be permitted because it violated dress code.

“I feel like they aren’t allowing me to have my freedom of expression,” Spies told the Herald. ”I think the administration is wrong in this situation, and I don’t want this to happen to other people.”

The five editors, who said their decision was unanimous, said Spies’ blame was misplaced, in both targeting the administration, and believing that it was a dress code issue.

They also offered her an opportunity to include the photo in the yearbook, just not as her senior photo.

“If she (Spies) chooses to, the picture will run as her senior ad, not her senior portrait,” Trujillo said.

Despite the clarification from her peers into how and why the decision was made, a meeting Spies initiated between herself, her mother, and the school’s principal, Diane Lashinsky, was held today as planned.

“The editors all turned their backs on me and changed their minds,” she told the Herald. “I really do feel like they were intimidated by the principal.”

Neither Spies nor the school responded to‘s requests for comments today on the meeting’s outcome.

The Durango School District, which oversees the high school, issued the following statement to

“The editors of Durango High School’s yearbook informed a senior student in December that her photo in question would not be included as a senior portrait in the yearbook and asked her to submit a replacement. Durango School District 9-R’s administration supports this decision.”

Prior to today’s meeting, the Spies family told local media they planned to meet with a civil lawyer in Denver to review their daughter’s case.

First, I'm inclined to think that anyone with a lick/whit/smudge or smidgen of common sense has no problem in understanding why the use of this picture as a senior high school class portrait has been prohibited.

Granted, there is the use of that pesky term "common sense" to be considered.

Second, I'm inclined to think that mom Miki's contribution to this whole fracas would be a wonderful first brick in the quest to build a convincing case that having children should, at some point in our future, be a privilege extended only to those who are capable of passing some rudimentary, basic level intelligence tests.

Third, I'm inclined to believe that given the tone and tastes of pop culture in this period of, and I use the term loosely, civilization, it should come as no great shock to anyone that a) Miki's monkey truly wants to represent herself this way and b) monkey's mama truly believes this is an issue of...wait for it...personal freedom.

And, there it is.

The old freedom of expression.

The old freedareeno.

The old expressaroo.

Which brings me back to my original boast/brag that I believed I could go ol' Longshanks one better in the one liner department.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, it's a line I wrote a while back and have used, in different contexts, more than once before.

But, certainly, and not just a smidgen sadly, it seems spot on appropriate here.

"The problem with freedom," he said with an sardonic grin, "is that you have to give it to everybody."

Monday, January 2, 2012

"...Silence Really Is Golden...In Large Measure, I Imagine, Because It's In Such Short Supply..."

Nature, we are taught at some point in our elementary educational experience, abhors a vacuum.

Put into a more "mottos for dummies" form, any space left lying around empty will inevitably get filled up with something, anything.

One universally relatable example is that hole we all try to dig in the sand at the beach, the one that fills with water and, no matter how hard we try or fast we dig, we can't keep ahead of the water determined to fill it.

I'm reminded of that hole, among others, every time I scan online news sites or spend more than five or six minutes watching any kind of "news" program on television.

And try to determine, for myself, what's wheat and what's chaff amongst the miles and miles and miles of crops being grown out there.

Don't mind tellin' ya, I think the chaff is getting the upper hand.

A lovely lady from my checkered past who spent her working years as a reporter for a medium market news station used to make reference to "feeding the monster", the metaphorical allusion, of course, being that television, by its twenty four/seven nature, required a never ending supply of "in" in order to facilitate the "out" required when you're broadcasting twenty four/seven.

Then, of course, in recent years, the original, accept no substitutes media monster had an offspring, so to speak.

"...from the twisted minds who brought you the monster classic, "T.V", comes a ravenous beast that makes television look tame....look out, it's everywhere...all the''s...."WWW dot"...........

Buzzkills (read common sense advocates and most Republicans) will simply roll eyes and offer that the solution to the "problem" is a simple, classic "duhh" category no brainer.

Turn the damn thing, or things, off.

Fair point.

But let's keep it real, okay? and just admit to ourselves and each other that approach really doesn't work for most people.

If it did, then "just say no" would have been the end of the drug problem in this country.

And Jenny Craig would have never become a household name.

I'm not sure how to whittle the www down to make it taste great and be less filling (obscure TV ad reference, Googling required for those under the age of thirty five), but I remember a time when television kept itself trim and toned by following that aforementioned buzzkill suggestion.

And, in effect, turned itself off every night.

Then, the whole monster feeding issue became moot mathematically.

Fewer hours to fill, less mindless, mundane, mediocre material necessary to fill them.

That's the problem with this technologically wondrous time in which we live.

There's never a good national anthem and test pattern/snowy screen around when we need one.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

'...What A Friend We Have In Jesus...Provided, Of Course, We Have Sufficient Friends In Common..."

A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g., faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).

Military intelligence.

Jumbo shrimp.

Free gift.

Facebook friend.

For not the first, nor, I'm sure, the last time, I've inadvertently pau de deux'd myself into a faux pas regarding the "policy" Facebook has when it comes to sending friend requests.

Here's my petulant pau de problem with their policy of preemption.

First, I was simply scrolling, innocently and innocuously through the list of "People You May Know" that Zuckerberg's zone of social zeitgeist, itself, zapped up on my page. It's not like I was hanging around the status update bar waiting for chicks I could hit on to come wandering by.

Second, the "policy" seems (and this isn't my first rodeo with this issue) contraindicated on a "social networking" site. Isn't one primary facet of social networking in the "real world" getting about the business of meeting new people and/or potential new contacts and/or friends.

Hellloo. Markie Mark? Mingle. Ever heard of it? It's something people who interact with one another in ways other than typing on a keyboard/clicking a mouse somewhere other than their mother's basement do when they socialize.

I'm pretty sure that Zuckerberg and his gang of geek have never read, let alone grasped the concept of, "Catch-22" as evidenced by the fact that this friend policy apparently puts one and all into the position of being solicited, even encouraged, to make new friends, provided, of course, that any new friends you wish to make are friends you already have.

Third, I'm not sure whether to chuckle good naturedly or change my name and move to another town to avoid the shame and embarrassment of having people find out that my "friend request privileges" have been "suspended for two days" because I "apparently sent friend requests to people with whom I do not have a sufficient number of friends in common" to justify having sent said friend requests.

Ostensibly, the purpose of the policy is to protect the populace from "abuse", whatever that means and/or however that is defined on planet Facebook.

Gotta tell ya, though, while I'm totally down with bouncing people's sorry asses off the site should they send inappropriate, offensive, profane, et al messages, pictures, et al to other Faces, I'm having a hard time getting my head around the logic behind "hi, nice to meet you...would you like to be added to my list?" being perceived as a threat to anybody.

Can't help but be reminded of a favorite theological perspective.

You can ask God for anything.


Because God can always just say no.

Facebook actually provides a similar option for people who receive "friend requests" from people they're not interested in adding to their list.

It's called delete.

So, paraphrasing a poignant old saying, to all those folks who aren't strangers, just friends I haven't met yet, I'm sorry that I won't have the opportunity to make your acquaintance.

Mark Zuckerberg won't let me meet you because you and I haven't already met.

And should you decide, in some moment of weakness, that you might like to meet me, you want to be sure that we've already met.

I don't want to be responsible for you having to spend two days in the penalty box.

No need to thank me.

That's what friends are for.