Archive for April, 2009

28th April
written by Jeff

Every Tuesday I write about the television shows I watched growing up and I watched a LOT of tv. Ask my retinas.

It should be noted that this particular Tubesday is a special one in honor of Bea Arthur who passed away over the weekend.

MaudeTo me, there are three sitcoms that are the gold standard for live action American comedy television: I Love Lucy, All in the Family and Seinfeld. In the case of All in the Family, it spun off several successful shows including The Jeffersons and today’s selection, Maude.

The character of Maude was the cousin of Edith Bunker and played by the awesome Bea Arthur. The show, written by All in Family‘s creator Norman Lear, ran on CBS for six seasons and included some very memorable television and hilarious comedy, particularly when Archie Bunker made a visit.

The show centered around Arthur’s domineering, ultra-liberal character, her fourth husband, Walter (Bill Macy), and her buxom daughter, Carol (Adrienne Barbeau), all living under one roof in a New York suburb.

Like All in the Family, Maude touched on some controversial topics including liberal politics, race relations and abortion with Maude playing the foil to All in the Family‘s Archie Bunker, the polar opposite of Arthur’s character.

The topic of abortion, in particular, played a pivotal role in the series when in one episode, Maude was confronted by an unexpected pregnancy and decided to have an abortion two months prior to legalization of Roe v. Wade. Abortion was legal in New York state, but not in many places around the country where affiliates refused to air the extremely controversial episode (see video below).

In addition to Bunker, Maude would often get into clashes with her conservative neighbor played by Conrad Bain, who would go on to star in Diff’rent Strokes. Bain’s character’s wife was played by Rue McClanahan, with whom Arthur would later star in Golden Girls.

Another popular bit character was Florida (Esther Rolle), the maid, who Maude would often point to as an example of her liberalism, much to the annoyance of Florida. Florida’s role was so popular that her character was given her own show, the wildly popular Good Times, which was created by and based on the life of Mike Evans, the actor who portrayed Lionel Jefferson on The Jeffersons.

The show ended abruptly during its final season when, after a re-vamp of the show where Maude and Walter moved to Washington, D.C., Arthur called it quits.

Like all good sitcoms in the 70’s, it’s main character had a catch phrase, “God will get you for that, Walter,” which was, of course, DY-NO-MITE!

Where are they now?

Bea Arthur found tv stardom again on the hit series, Golden Girls, in the 1980’s – a rare accomplishment. She won two Emmy awards, one for each of her two hit shows and was a long-time animal rights activist, often campaigning for PETA. In a stroke of pure kitsch, she “starred” in the often discussed but rarely seen Star Wars Christmas Special even singing a number on the show. Arthur died last weekend, just three weeks shy of her 87th birthday.

Maude marked the high point of Bill Macy’s fame in a long career as a character actor, but it did not stop him from performing relentlessly on tv and in film, appearing as recently as two years ago in the short-lived sitcom Back to You and in 2006 in the popular romantic comedy, The Holiday. Interestingly, he and his co-star, Bea Arthur, were born just five days apart from one another.

Adrienne Barbeau has had a very productive career since Maude went off the air appearing in films like Cannonball Run, Back to School and The Swamp Thing and tv shows like The Drew Carey Show. The busty actress is probably better known to most people who were around at the time for her famous poster, which became the cover of her autobiography, even though she was a very successful theater actor.


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28th April
written by Jeff

There was a lot of craziness on Twitter yesterday and the internet in general with regard to the dreaded swine flu outbreak of 2009. I read that the swine flu literally turns people into human/pig hybrids that allow them to hoof across the globe looking for slop…and love.

I’m not sure if that’s true, but I do know that the news networks ran just about any bit of information they could 24/7 because inquiring minds want to know freak out.

So, today, I see this story on about how Twitter is apparently incubating the craziness like the hot hot heat of your luscious blood stream incubates the swine virus.

“This is a good example of why [Twitter is] headed in that wrong direction, because it’s just propagating fear amongst people as opposed to seeking actual solutions or key information,” said Brennon Slattery, a contributing writer for PC World. “The swine flu thing came really at the crux of a media revolution.”

Of course, there were six stories on CNN’s Twitter feed about the virus in the last 24 hours – six times more than any other story including hard hitters like how the First Lady’s arms or dresses or whatever look fabulous.

But, yes, Twitter is certainly the source of all the problems in media today. Sigh.

The best part was this:

That information needs to be put in context by journalists, especially given the fact that so many deaths from the common flu occur each year and go underreported by the news media, said Al Tompkins, who teaches broadcast and online news at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists. Follow CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta on Twitter

About 36,000 people die from flu-related symptoms each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fast pace of new swine flu cases and their relevance to global public health policy makes the situation newsworthy, Tompkins said.

Tompkins said there is a tendency for television stations to hype health emergencies to boost their ratings, but so far coverage of the swine flu outbreak has been responsible. Coverage of the story is just ramping up, though, he said.

Oh, CNN reporting on…CNN. Of course they would find someone to say that there hasn’t been any hype and the coverage has been responsible.

Fortunately, there’s Jon Stewart to soldier us on through the…whatever, just watch.


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Snoutbreak ’09 – The Last 100 Days
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

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21st April
written by Jeff

Every Tuesday I write about the television shows I watched growing up and I watched a LOT of tv. Ask my retinas.

WKRP in CincinnatiTo this day, I still believe this line is the greatest response one liner in the history of television. That line comes from WKRP in Cincinnati, the hilarious CBS sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1982 and centered around the staff of an FM radio station.

The ensemble cast that spawned the careers of Howard Hessman and Loni Anderson was perfectly suited to their characters and the show was extremely funny, but I think I remember it fondly because my dad worked in radio when I was a kid and this station is very much like what I remember visiting as a child.

While the show only ran four seasons, it delivered numerous memorable plot lines and even some controversial subject matter including the trampling of fans at a Who concert, censorship of songs due to content and the bombing of a radio transmission tower. But, mostly it was a damn funny show.

Whether it was the stoned antics of Dr. Johnny Fever, the lecherous passes Herb Tarlic made at Jennifer Marlowe, the overstated seriousness of “serious newsman” Les Nessman or the simple innocence of Arthur Carlson, there was always something that generated at least a laugh or two for me – most especially the now famous Thanksgiving Day “Turkeys Away” episode (see below).

Central to the show was the music which, unfortunately, has not been preserved with DVD releases due to serious licensing issues. It’s a shame because it’s hard to imagine Les trying on his toupee without “Hot Blooded” playing in the background. What is even worse is that you can’t even see re-runs with the music in them because the licenses for the taped broadcasts expired about ten years after the show aired. As a result, the music on the DVD’s is generic substitutes with even dubbed in lines to replace the original titles.

I guess that means I’ll just have to remember them fondly without the support of modern technology.

There was an attempted comeback series called The New WKRP that, appropriately, failed in the early 90’s.

Where are they now?

Gordon Jump had a long career in show business from recurring roles on Soap and The Partridge Family to a stint on Growing Pains and the role as the Maytag Repairman in commercials, Jump managed a long string of acting roles mainly on tv. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 71.

Howard Hessman is probably the most successful of the WKRP crew with his Dr. Johnny Fever character the most memorable of the series as well. He starred in the sitcom Head of the Class and had a recurring role in another 80’s-era sitcom, One Day at a Time. He has had bit roles in a ton of films and television shows. Prior to WKRP, he had a long career working as a comedic actor and currently has two films in production.

Gary Sandy had the sweetest wings of hair this side of Shaun Cassidy. His Andy Travis character was the biggest of his career though he did appear in numerous television shows and even had a small roll in the film The Insider with Al Pacino. In 2001, he returned to the world of soap operas where he got his start appearing in several episodes of The Young and the Restless. Most of his work since has been in musical theater.

Besides eventually becoming Mrs. Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson carved out a niche for herself in a number of soap opera style made for tv movies some built from her own production company. Her Emmy-nominated role as Jennifer Marlowe is by far her most famous, however.

Tim Reid‘s very cool Venus Flytrap character was his most well known, but certainly did not keep him from slowing down in Hollywood. Besides numerous roles on tv shows like Simon & Simon, Sister Sister and That 70’s Show, Reid has worked as a producer, writer and director, mostly for television.

Richard Sanders made Les Nessman his bitch. I cannot imagine a more perfect casting for the sadly inept newsman. While Sanders hasn’t done a lot of work in front of the camera since WKRP, he has done voiceover work including television and video games.

Frank Bonner played the perfect sleazy sales guy with matching white shoes and belt in Herb Tarlic. After WKRP, Bonner worked in numerous guest starring roles eventually settling into the directors chair working on series like City Guys and Hessman’s Head of the Class.

Say what you want about Loni Anderson, Jan Smithers‘ Baily Quarters character was hotter. Period. Unfortunately, her post-WKRP career wasn’t so hot. She worked a handful of guest starring roles on television and ultimately left acting. She is probably best known as the ex-wife of film star James Brolin. Sadly, after the death of her father, Smithers ended up in the hospital when she was struck by a truck after her car broke down – she was naked at the time of the accident.

Watch Episodes on Hulu
Episode Guide

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20th April
written by Jeff

AirFor the first time this year, I got on my bike. I wanted to test out the new hike/bike trail that is nearly complete just a few blocks from my house.

Since my bike has been in storage since last year, I figured the tires would need air, which they did. Finding air for bike tires has been an adventure ever since I was a kid. Some gas stations have it and others don’t. The same is true today. But, what’s different is that the stations that do have air often charge you for it.

Seriously, $0.75 for air? AIR?

And the thing is set on a timer that is guaranteed to go off just before you get done with the airing up of tire, particularly if you need it for all four tires on your truck.

I did have a good ride and the new, nearly finished trail is awesome. A few stats from my ride:

Miles traveled: appx 4
Songs heard on iPod: around 20
Repairs required en route: 1
Times nearly hit by car: 2
Amount of mud accumulated on tires: appx 5 lbs
Damage: cut on hand

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20th April
written by Jeff

I was a child in the 70’s and early 80’s, a time marked by some of the sweetest, sensitivist and soulfullest pop songs ever. Each Monday, I give you a chance to learn about some of the music I heard as a kid right here on Light Rock Monday.

Lady - Little River BandA former girlfriend of mine has this awesome cat named Tubby. When I would hang out over at her apartment, I would, naturally, pet Tubby and pay attention to her like I do my own cats. I even wrote a song for her to the tune of today’s light rock song, “Lady” by the Little River Band.

My lyrics went:

Tubby, let me take a look at you now.
You’re there on the blanket box,
Makin’ me wanna pet you somehow.
Tubby, I think it’s only fair I should say to you,
Don’t be thinking I don’t wanna pet you, cuz, Tubby, I do.

The first time I sung this, my ex appeared from around the corner and said, “You are so weird” and laughed.

I have made up songs for many of my animals and I have friends who have done the same. I recently found out that two friends of mine have songs they sing to their dogs to the tune of “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds. We’re all a little weird I guess.

Anyway, in honor of Tubby I present you with “Lady,” a song by Australian 70’s light rockers Little River Band. LRB is one of those bands I often refer to when discussing middle of the road pop bands of the 70’s. They had a handful of hits (none reaching number one) and a very solid career selling 25 million records worldwide, but they aren’t a band everyone knows right off.

“Lady” reached #10 on the Billboard charts in the US and has been featured in a number of movies. Like a lot of the songs I love from the 70’s, “Lady” contains some really odd if not completely nonsensical lyrics that sound like they may have been yanked from a rhyming dictionary, but probably made a lot of sense in the pale haze of the cocaine-coated late 70’s.

Look around you, look up here
Take time to make time, make time to be there
Look around, be a part
Feel for the winter, but don’t have a cold heart

Honestly, I don’t even know what the hell that means.

And I love you best
You’re not like the rest
You’re there when I need you
You’re there when I need
I’m gonna need you

Well, thankfully, he loves you best because otherwise all that work of being there when he needs you would be a huge waste.

A long time ago I had a lady to love
She made me think of things I never thought of
Now she’s gone and I’m on my own
A love song has come into my mind
A love song, it was there all the time

Again, what the hell? You just said you had someone and now you’re talking about someone you lost. Stay on point here, buddy.

So lady, let me take a look at you now
You’re there on the dance floor, making me want you somehow
Oh lady, I think it’s only fair I should say to you
Don’t be thinkin’ that I don’t want you, ’cause maybe I do

It’s really like someone just threw a bunch of lyrics together that rhymed and said, “Hey, that sounds good.” First, he has a lady, then he HAD a lady and now he’s looking at a lady. And she’s making him want her “somehow,” like he’s not sure and that trend continues when he says “maybe” he wants her. I’m glad he thinks it’s fair to tell her that maybe she’s hot enough for him to want her, but maybe not.

I smell commitment issues.

Look around, come to me
I have no answers, but know where I wanna be
I look around, play a part
I was born in the winter and cooled by a warm heart

Again, no clue. I don’t think they have a clue either. How the hell are you cooled by a warm heart?

This is proof that a really good melody can overcome even the most ridiculous of lyrics.

Video and Song Stream on LastFM
Wikipedia (Band)
Band Official Website

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