Category Archives: TV

It’s a Mystery

You all know that I turn the tv on for background and comfort; I rarely watch anything “new”.  In the last few weeks, I’ve turned even more to my oldies but goodies.  Not sure if it’s the weather or the holidays being over or even 2021 being a buzz-kill for the time being.

So I’ve been happy that a couple of movies that I really like have been available on demand through my cable company.  The World of Henry Orient is one and two old Agatha Christie’s as well: Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun.  Knowing that these won’t be around forever on demand, I’ve been watching them quite a bit, as if I can fill myself up with them before they’re gone.  Yesterday, I not only watched all three of these while I was working in my studio, I followed them up by watching Murder on the Orient Express (the old one), which I actually own.  I love Agatha Christie, although she breaks one of my “rules”; she almost always leaves out one or two necessary clues for the reader to figure out the mystery. 

YA came into my studio while Death on the Nile was playing and she commented that I should know the whole movie by heart by now.  She might be right – I can do most of the dialog right along with the actors.  One of my favorite scenes contains this bit:

  • Hercule Poirot: Do not allow evil into your heart, it will make a home there.
  • Jacqueline de Bellfort:  If love can’t live there, evil will do just as well.

So melodramatic – I love it.  I’ve searched for a couple other Agatha Christie movies with the library – can’t wait for those either. 

Tell me a movie you’ve watched more than once.  Way more than once??

The Chess Gambit

Several baboons responded on Tuesday to a comment about the 6-part Netflix mini-series called The Queen’s Gambit. It’s based on a book by Walter Tevis (who is also author of three other books which became movies: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth).

Apparently chess sets have been flying off the shelves, both in-store and online. I have located our set here, a Christmas gift years ago from son Joel. I’ve never really taken to chess – though Husband has tried to teach me, I never thought I had enough…  desire, mental acuity, or stamina to be a competitive player.

Because of this movie, I’ve become aware that women have been serious chess players for centuries first documented during the Middle Ages – this from Wikipedia:    “Chess games between men and women were a common theme of European art[2][3] and literature in the fourteenth through 18th centuries.” By the 19th Century, the field was dominated by men, and “during the 20th century, female players made significant progress in breaking male dominance on the game.” The first female International Grandmaster was Nona Gaprindashvilli, who received the title in 1978.

Back on the home front:  It wasn’t that I thought women in general wouldn’t be good at chess, just me. I am willing to rethink that and, with a long and at-home winter facing me, I think I just might take another stab at chess. I will, however, need to do a quick room-arrange to accommodate a table where we can leave a chess board up. And wouldn’t it be fun to paint our own chess board right on some old table?   

Here’s a puzzle:  Imagine you’ve decided you need a chess set and there are none to be had in all the land. By what art or craft would you create the board?

What found objects around the house could stand in for the various pieces – pawns, rooks, bishops, knights, king, queen ?

OR:

Because you may be home-bound for several weeks (or months), what other sort of learning might you tackle, that you would otherwise not have attempted?

Holding The Line

In my world/head, I don’t play holiday music or turn on holiday movies until the day after Thanksgiving, although every few years I might listen to holiday music in the car on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner.  This rule is mostly just to keep the Christmas/Solstice season within some kind of boundaries.  I think 5-6 weeks is plenty of celebration – no need for it to spill out into October and early November. 

So I was surprised to come home from picking up pizza yesterday to hear holiday music playing.  Loudly.  As we sat down to our pizza, I gave YA grief about playing Christmas songs.  Without missing a beat, she said “oh please – you’ve been doing holiday stuff since March”.   I have to admit that she is correct.  In the spring, when we all thought covid would be history by this time, I was expecting to be extremely busy at work, with all my spring programs bumping into the fall.  Since this was my mindset, I figured I should get all my Solstice stuff done early, so I wouldn’t be stressing out about it in October and November.  I did all my cards, my egg ornaments and my calendars in the spring.  I also worked on the family gift throughout the summer.  The last week I’ve done what I consider my “last-minute” stuff: the newsletter, wrapping, labels, cookie selection, etc. 

I consider all this holiday prep, but not holiday celebration.  No music or movies for me yet.  But I’m all ready for next Friday…. all my holidays movies are in a separate bin so I can get to them fast and YA’s “Alexa” will be on call every day (and I’ve finally figured out how to get her to play Radio Heartland). 

Will you be celebrating this year?  When will you start?

Mrs Pollifax: Spy

I just saw a headline (yes, big enough to warrant a headline) that the tv series Friends is doing a reunion show in the spring.  I never saw an entire episode of Friends when it was originally airing – the bits I did see didn’t make me want to tune in.  But between what other people talk about and all the various commercials, I know enough that I’m thinking an enjoyable reunion show almost 20 years after the fact will be hard to pull off.  I’m sure I’ll be passing.

But there are a few bits of entertainment that I would like to have seen more of —  Mrs. Polifax, Spy for one.  There are boatloads of Mrs Pollifax books by Dorothy Gilman but just two movies.  The first one came out in 1971 with Rosalind Russell and Darren McGavin.  It’s clever and a bit silly, but just what I need every now and then.  Rosalind Russell was perfect but a follow-up was never made.  Then in 1999 Angela Lansbury starred in The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.  Good enough to waste a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon but that was about it; she was too old for the part and the movie took itself much too seriously.  It really just felt like an episode of Murder She Wrote

The 1971 version is currently available on Amazon Prime and I will admit that I’ve watched it several times since March.  I wish that Rosalind Russell had made a few more of them!

Anything that you would have like to see more of (or read more of)?

Does It Hurt and Have A Temperature?

Today’s post comes from Wessew.

That is line from a 1963 Bayer Children’s aspirin commercial. The little boy makes an inquiry of his playmate’s health and receives reassurance from her mother that things will be fine. His delightful response? “Mothers are like that. Yeah, they are.”

With the C-19 pandemic, many of us have heard similar screening questions. “Pain? Temperature?”

My construction work at medical facilities requires a negative response to gain entrance into the building. I’m quite sure that over these past months that I’ve had my temperature taken a hundred times and it has consistently been 97.5. This is a surprise, as I recollect normal body temperature being 98.6 or did Keith mis-inform me with the lyric in his 1967 song:

“Hey, 98.6, it’s good to have you back again! Oh, hey, 98.6, her lovin’ is the medicine that saved me! Oh, I love my baby!”

Somehow “Hey 97.5” doesn’t work as a lyric.

 

Do you have a favorite fever song?

RIP Grant Imahara

I saw the sad news that Grant Imahara has passed away, from a brain aneurysm at the age of 49.  Although he worked for 9 years behind the scenes and Lucasfilms and Industrial Light & Magic as well as winning the third season of Battlebots, he is probably best known as one of the co-hosts of Mythbusters from 2005 to 2014.

I started watching Mythbusters right about the time that Grant started and I was hooked from the beginning.  This was about the time in my life when I was really starting to embrace my interest in science or as my baby sister says “my nerd stuff”.  As I know I’ve talked about here before, I spent decades of my life trying to mask my intelligence.  Even though I was the “smart one” in the family and did well in school, I never highlighted any accomplishments and purposely didn’t gravitate to things that were too nerdy.

But by the time Grant came into my life I had begun to realize that being interested in science, being a big reader, watching shows like Mythbusters was nothing to be ashamed about.  I loved the show and I was always amazed at Grant’s ability to whip up a robot whenever it was needed, from a baseball pitching machine to a robot that could fling a metal rimmed hat at a statue (a la James Bond).

So I will always be grateful to Grant for helping me along a path that has made me happier – I (and the rest of the world) will miss him.

Anything around your house you would like a have a robot do?

To Baader-Meinhof or Not to Baader-Meinhof? That is the Question.

Photo Credit:  Hulki Okan Tabak

A few weeks ago a friend came over for some socially distant muffins and tea.  We had a wonderful time chatting in the backyard about all kinds of things.  At one point she recommended a series called “Walking Through History”.  The host walks around Britain and archaeologists and historians pop out of the surrounding country add information as he walks.  Sounded like my cup of tea so I searched it out.

I didn’t actually binge watch it but over the next couple of weeks, I had seen them all.  The host, Tony Robinson, seemed vaguely familiar, so I googled him.  Turns out he is SIR Tony Robinson, an English actor and host and he seemed familiar because he played Baldrick in the “Black Adder” show a gazillion years ago.  I read through his entire Wikipedia page and found that he has had a fascinating career of acting, presenting and writing and has made charity part of his life’s work.

I’m waiting for a DVD of Black Adder from the library (to re-watch) and have checked out Bad Kids: Naughtiest Children in History .  It was very funny – a kids’ book about various ways in which kids are raised (and punished) in various cultures throughout history.  There are quite a few children’s books about history in his bibliography.

Another thing that caught my eye in his biography was a television show that ran for 20 seasons on BBC called “Time Team”.  A group of archaeologists and historians (and Tony Robison as presenter) go someplace in Britain (often invited by a town or home owner) to look into the history of some ruin – they give themselves 3-5 days and then present their findings.  It took me a bit to find it, but eventually I did – on demand cable – all 20 seasons.  It’s fascinating.  I’ve watched 2 seasons so far.

So imagine my surprise when this morning, while reading In the Woods, a murder mystery that takes place in an archaeological site by Tana French (which has been on my shelf for a few years and I’m just getting to), I found this:

“How’s the dig going?” Cassie asked sociably.
One corner of Mark’s mouth twisted sourly.  “How do you think?  We’ve got four weeks to do a year’s work.  We’ve been using bulldozers.”
“And that’s not a good thing?” I said.
He glared at me.  “Do we look like the f***ing Time Team?”

French then adds a couple of sentences explaining Time Team for those readers who don’t happen to be binge watching it this week.

I’m sure a mathematician can probably explain the odds of this occurrence, but I’m thinking there just has to be magic involved.  And maybe dragons.

For what kind of show would you like to be a presenter?

Della Street

You all know I’m a big fan of Perry Mason, particularly the two tv series with Raymond Burr.  I’ve seen them all and YA will tell you I’ve seen them all repeatedly.  Mea culpa. 

With the big storm on Sunday/Monday, I spent the day inside, watching another of my favorite old shows – Columbo.  When watching episodes back to back, I noticed something in Columbo that I have always been bothered by in Perry Mason.  Secretaries are portrayed as a bad lot.  Either they are in love with their bosses and will lie (and kill) for them or they are sexpots either having affairs with their bosses or vying for those affairs, always with the aim of blackmail of some sort. 

Except Della Street, of course.  Intelligent, resourceful, extremely loyal, kind and completely devoted to her job.  Early mornings, late nights, weekends…. she is ALWAYS working.  She goes to nice restaurants with the boss, gala affairs on occasion, holiday weekends in Mexico, an overnight on a boat with the boss to check some bit of evidence.  She even goes to the boss’ house to take care of him when he is sick.  But no canoodling of any kind, although the later series does lean a little over the line in terms of their relationship.  (And we’re not going to discuss a movie made in the late 30s in which Perry and Della get married!)

I did secretarial work for my father’s law firm for a couple of summers and winter breaks in college and I never met another secretary that fit any of the secretarial visions that Hollywood has dreamed up – no killer gals in love with the boss, no sexpots aiming to entrap the boss and no Della Streets.  Not a one.

In your opinion, what else does Hollywood always mess up?

Boob Tube

Today’s post comes to us from Steve Grooms.

Can we talk about television? Since I live under conditions I call “house arrest,” almost never setting foot outside my apartment, I get to watch a lot of TV.

It wasn’t always like that. When broadcast television first entered my family’s home, programming was limited and boring. By “limited” I mean we had one channel at first, and it ran programs only up until midnight. By “boring” I mean amateurish. Most of those early programs were forgettable. We had better things to do than sitting around looking at that stuff.

In the 70s it was fashionable to call that appliance the “boob tube.” People pretended they never watched it, but if you mentioned a particular show, they suddenly could describe plot developments with loving detail. They obviously watched more than they cared to admit.

Even so, I watched very little in the 60s and 70s except newscasts and a handful of weekly shows. When we bought our first home, the TV sat in the basement. It wasn’t important enough to occupy space upstairs.

Now, between the limits imposed by old age and the new limits imposed by COVID-19, I watch a lot. Some critics claim we are living in a golden age of wonderful programming. Maybe they have access to channels I can’t afford to watch. I’m a Netflix subscriber. They sure have many offerings, but I have to start a dozen Netflix shows before finding one I can commit to. Cable television seems a wasteland of so-called “reality shows.” PBS has some good programs (when it isn’t running pledge drives).

How about you? Watching much these days? Any shows you want to recommend? Any shows that are so disgusting you want to call them out? There are commercials, quite a few, actually, that send me rushing to push the Mute button. Are there any commercials you hope to never see again?

Felix or Oscar?

Today’s post comes to us from Minnesota Steve

The Odd Couple was a popular play that then became a hit movie and then became a television series that ran for five years. The original play, written by Neil Simon, features conflict between recent two divorcees who room together. Felix is a neat freak; Oscar is a slob who is comfortable being a slob. Essentially, the two characters are defined by their very different positions on the OCD scale. I particularly liked the movie. In it, fussy Felix was played by Jack Lemon, an actor who could do crankiness well. Oscar was played perfectly by Walter Matthau.

One reason I found the jokes appealing was how they mirrored my relationship with my favorite hunting and fishing partner, Bill. Bill was Felix; I was Oscar. Bill used to wear suspenders and a belt to keep his pants up; by contrast, I’ve been known to wear neither, with predictable results. We have been pals for over fifty years. Bill has gradually grown less uptight, while I have become somewhat more prepared. It has been the best friendship I ever had.

I was shocked to learn, when I was in my sixties, that I had slight OCD tendencies. One night I sat behind a woman during a small theatrical production. The tag on her blouse was sticking out. I found myself seriously tempted to tuck the tag out of sight. I didn’t, of course. Men who rearrange the clothing of women they don’t know might suffer harsh consequences. I couldn’t wait for that play to end because that loose tag was like a bit of grit in my eye.

When I moved to Michigan, a family friend helped set up in my new apartment. She donated glasses, silverware and furniture so the place would be livable when I arrived. To my disgust, I found myself freaked out by having “mixed” flatware. I lived for 48 years using nothing but the lovely Dansk flatware my erstwife and I got when we were married. After Nancy’s intervention, my elegantly stylish flatware shared a drawer with all kinds of alien forks and spoons from Walmart or who-knows-where. Every time I opened the silver drawer I was disgusted by the clash of styles. When I moved back to Minnesota I secretly dumped all the alien utensils.

So I’m still Oscar, but have a carefully hidden streak of Felix that only my best friends see.

How about you? Are you more slob or neatnik? Do you have enough OCD in you to be slightly bothered by it from time to time? Sitting in the doctor’s waiting area, did you ever straighten up the stacks of magazines?