Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Television”

It Puts The Remote In Remote Control

I’VE BEEN LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE LATELY: ENGLISH. Considering that English is already my first and primary language you wouldn’t think that I would need lessons – but I do.

My wife, the lovely and Queen of the Remote Control, Dawn, has us watching a number of TV shows from “Across the Pond,” most of which are Police and Cops N’ Robbers shows from England and Scotland. I didn’t know that the Scots were so into crime shows. I didn’t know that the Scots were into much of anything other than not being English.

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For You, Easy. For Me, Difficult

OVER THE YEARS I HAVE SEEN A LOT OF COMEDIANS. Most of them ranged from dismal to really good. There was a different level for those above “Really Good.” Those were the “Classics,” the “Geniuses, “and the “Made me laugh out loud.” There aren’t too many that made it into that last group. One who did make me laugh out loud every time was a Comedian I’ll bet you never heard of. If you are under 40 years of age I’d put money on it.

The person I’m talking about was a Spanish ventriloquist named Wenceslao Moreno. He performed under the stage name of Señor Wences.

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Don’t Go Postal On Me

I SAW SOMETHING LAST NIGHT that had me scratching my head. It wasn’t lice so you can get that idea out of your mind right now. No, it was an ad on our E-lectric Telly-vision. There was a commercial advertising the Post Office. An ad for the Post Office? Why would they be advertising?

If I want to send a letter to my aunt Tillie in Temecula where else am I going to go? I suppose that I could take my letter to the UPS Store or Fed Ex, but they would charge me $85 and then I guarantee that they’d lose it or send it to someone in Turkmenistan. My Aunt Tillie doesn’t live in Turkmenistan…any longer. If you ever meet her do NOT mention Turkmenistan to her. The emotional scars are still too fresh, but the pictures are nice.

Anyway…

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What Will I Do On Sunday Nights?

 

WELL, WELL, WELL. WE HAVE FINALLY DONE IT. We have reached the end, the finale, the climax, the resolution of the 37 year long television series, “Game of Thrones” – or is it “Game of Thorns?” I’m not sure.

We watched it all, each of the 57, 147 episodes. My guess is that the script writers just couldn’t bring themselves to edit away anything or fill in the gaps left when a flame throwing dragon went to get a nice 89 octane refill.

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I Love Watching Radio

 

HOW LONG HAS “GAME OF THRONES” BEEN RUNNING? I could swear that I watched it while I was still in elementary school. I think that the actors in the current show are the grandchildren of the actors at the beginning.

I wrote about “Game of Thrones” once before – several years ago.  At that time I was talking about how I couldn’t follow the multiple storylines. I was totally confused when characters disappeared only to reappear out of the blue two seasons later with no explanation.

“Honorable Phlegmball, where have you been?”

“Ummm… I was visiting my mother, Queen Effluvia, in the far North, Mr. Nosey Pants.”

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The Face Is Familiar

Myron Healey

John Doucette

George Chandler

Do you recognize any of these names? If you do I’d be very surprised, but I’d bet that you would recognize their faces in a flash.

Every film and TV show has Leading Men, the “Stars” but it is the “Character Actors” who fill in the blanks. What good is a Hero without a Villain to vanquish or someone to rescue?

These three guys were what Hollywood called “Character Actors” portraying any number of roles in countless films and TV shows. For every John Wayne or Clint Eastwood there are hundreds of actors who create the atmosphere of danger and serve as the Antagonists that keep us on the edge of our seats. Someone has to rob the stagecoach so that the Lone Ranger can hunt them down.

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I Can’t Believe That I Can’t Believe.

I AM A BIG FAN OF LAUGHTER. It is much better than crying and Giggling is superior to Growling. Even the occasional Snort is acceptable although having coffee shoot out of my nose is not pleasant.

When I feel the need for a good sustained laugh I go to YouTube and pull up a few episodes of “The Vicar of Dibley.”

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Comrade Cotton-Eyed Joe

PARTIALLY DUE TO THE INCLEMENT WEATHER and the seemingly endless weeks of battling bugs of varying virulences we have been watching a lot of TV.

My wife, the lovely and the ultimate Amazon Prime Minister, Dawn, and I have gathered up blankets, Kleenex, and hot tea so we could do some serious binge watching.

With Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap we settled ourselves down for a long winters Ripping Yarn. Dawn had been scouting the terrain and had come up with a series that had six years of episodes in the can. We figured that should hold us until Spring. Well… After one week we are halfway through Season Four. Spring better arrive soon.

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I Dare You

WHAT IS GOING ON? LIFE IS CHALLENGING ENOUGH. I don’t need people, most of whom I don’t know or couldn’t pick out of a police lineup, sticking their surgically modified noses into my world with “Challenges.”

The latest thing I’m having pushed upon me are these “Ten-Day Challenges” to convince me to eat better, exercise so that I too can have six-pack abs, or to transform me into a “World Citizen” – whatever that means.

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We Are Thrilled…But.

 

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I’m getting really tired of looking at Wayne Brady. Every twelve seconds, no matter what TV channel I am watching, Wayne Brady is popping up shilling for the Publisher’s Clearinghouse and their “$5000 a week – FOR LIFE!

Yeah, right. I’ll start planning our new vacation mansion…right after breakfast.

It’s not that I have anything against Wayne Brady. I’m sure that he is a nice guy, is kind to animals and children, and has good table manners. He is already the host of the resuscitated “Let’s Make A Deal” game show and he was the real star of Drew Carey’s program, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” I know a couple of comedians who have been on that show and they have nothing but kind words to say about him…but – I don’t need to be seeing those Publisher’s Clearinghouse ads every time I turn around.

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Caveat Emptor, Dude

I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR IDEAS. I have so few of my own that I am constantly scouting for the quirky, arcane, and “Gee Whiz” things outside of my own experience. It is a big world and, at any given time, half of the eight billion people on Earth are awake and up to something.

For the last week or so my wife, the lovely and universally interesting, Dawn, and I have been doing a bit of Binge Watching.

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Sieg Heil, Kemosabe!

I LIKE TO START OFF MY DAY IN SLOW MOTION. I do not want or need to be jarred into actual thought before I have had my coffee. Before that first influx of caffeine into my system I am not capable of digesting information or spatial-temporal incongruities.

That is why I am in recovery today after a surprise challenge to my cranial lobes the other day.

One of my early, early, early morning rituals is to slowly crawl into consciousness with the TV lighting the way as I try to figure out how socks work. My heart is beating sporadically and my brain is clicking away at an invertebrate level. I don’t need surprises.

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I Will Survive

 

 

I AM A CLOSET RED SOX FAN. Not really, but because they are going up against the Hated Dodgers in the World Series …It’s baked beans and cod fish for everybody!

This year was not a good year for my beloved San Francisco Giants. In fact it was an “Annus Horribilis” as Queen Elizabeth once put it. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. To top off the misery the dodgers made it to the World Series. I was in mourning for several days.

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Maybe I Need A Hobby

IS THIS THE FUTURE? ARE THESE THE THOMAS EDISONS OF TOMORROW?

I was flipping through the 237,812 channels on our TV the other day. There I found much to be ignored. I suppose that someone, somewhere, on some combination of medications might find some of these channels entertaining or informative. Me? I really have my doubts that “Ancient Aliens” built everything from the Pyramids of Giza up to and including the Astrodome.

But I did find one program that was both fascinating and appalling at the same time (Other than the Evening News). It was something called “Battlebots” or “Robot Wars,” or something like that.

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Warning: Senior Citizen Nostalgia Alert!

Geezer Alert!

THIS MORNING – I WOKE UP – GOOD NEWS THAT. I flipped on the television – it worked. Then I tuned to catch my daily dose of The Lone Ranger and/or Roy Rogers – uh, oh, Snafu in progress.

Where were they, Kemo Sabe?

I had begun to count on those two old cowboy “shoot ‘em ups” to drag me into the day. Now they weren’t there. In their place was some coverage of a rodeo. God bless ‘em, but I don’t care about rodeos. I want the shaky fiction of Roy and Dale or that Masked Man dressed in Powder Blue

You know – the Real West.

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Throwback Thursday from September 2015 –”Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be”

Throwback Thursday from September 2015 –”Downwind Of Upstage Is No Place To Be” 

 

 

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THERE IS A GOOD REASON my wife, the lovely and unfailingly perceptive, Dawn, calls my trips to St. Arbucks, along with, “The Usual Suspects,” my “Play Group.” I admit that there are some days when the maturity level drops below Pre-School closing in on Pre-Natal.

For several days now the main topic of conversation among the group has centered on the television western series, “Gunsmoke.” This show hasn’t been on the air since 1975. Why this has become important enough to warrant two days of conversation is unknown.

I understand the lure of nostalgia – the being able to share common memories with contemporaries who are now getting along in years. What I can’t understand is why it has become necessary to dramatize scenes from the show – right there in the corner of the coffee joint. It mystifies me and I think it scares some of the staff and other customers.

The conversation seemed to center around one character on the show: “Chester Good” – portrayed by Dennis Weaver, a mediocre actor at best.

“Chester” was the Deputy to Marshall Matt Dillon, played by James Arness and irrelevant to this discussion.

The character of “Chester” was disabled on the show. His character was gunned down in an early episode and for the rest of his time on the show he ran around with one leg, unbending, and stiff as a pool cue.

Week after week he would scuttle around, getting in over his head with the local bad guys. He would then run, after a fashion – stiff leg swinging out like the line on a weed eater, and yelling, “Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon, come quick.” Not exactly a showcase for Mr. Weaver’s acting chops, but it paid the bills.

How all of this was remembered by The Usual Suspects in 2015 is where things got dicey.

After describing “Chester” and his “mobility issues” it was determined by one Suspect that more was needed to illustrate his point (Whatever it was). He also thought that it would help if he performed Chester’s lines, but his recollection veered a bit from reality.

The Suspect hauled himself out of his chair and began to stiff-leg it across the floor. Then his dialogue came out, loud enough to reach the back row at the Hollywood Bowl.

“Holy Sh**, Mr. Dillon. Come quick. Holy Sh**!

It was at this point that I tried to hide under a table. I’m positive that “Chester” never said that on network television – ever.

This breach of nostalgia etiquette had the other Suspects trying to force him back in his chair.

“Sit down! You’re going to get us all thrown out of here!”

I peeked around and all of the baristas and other coffee drinkers looked like prairie dogs – alert with eyes wide open, wondering what was happening. Was the big guy with the bad leg going Postal? Was he a threat or merely nuts?

The answer to that particular question was: All of the above. But I’m not being judgmental.

Now, all of this could be written off as a quirky, one-time event, like Ross Perot or World War Two, except that there was an encore performance the next day.

When I arrived on the scene this “Faux Chester” was already wound up like a Joy Buzzer and moments later he was off and running, albeit with a significant limp. I was still near the door, so I just sidled over toward the recycling bin and pretended to be checking that things were being sorted properly.

If this was going to be a daily performance, I told him, he was going to have to join the Actors’ Equity labor union. It was either that or he was going to be hauled off for a 72 hour observation at the Bubble Factory. Personally, I’m voting for the 72 hour gig.

Most days at St. Arbucks are quiet, contemplative even, but this week it was more like being trapped inside bad Community Theater.

I Love Television

I LOVE TELEVISION. It entertains me. It educates me. It enrages me. It wakes me up. It puts me to sleep. It’s a lot like most people I know.

My personal memory of Television goes back to 1952 or thereabouts. That was when my father came home with our first television set. It was a Philco brand with a 12 inch screen. Everything was in black and white and we had a whopping three channels to pick from.

It didn’t matter which channel you watched they were all pretty much the same – Old movies, Cartoons, News, Kids Shows, and Wrestling. Lots of Wrestling.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

 

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More

But Wait! There’s More!

infomercialI WAS SITTING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE the other morning, minding my own business and eating some grapes, when I turned on the TV and came in halfway through an Infomercial.

The format is always the same – one guy and one gal acting as if their conversation is completely ad libbed. Sure it is. These mini-dramas are scripted out by a team of advertising copy writers who try so hard to be creative. They fail every time. Most of the time these actors sound like they are just coming out from under heavy anesthesia.

I immediately recognized the guy part of the infomercial pair. That is his picture up top. I’m sure he came to Hollywood with the dream of being the next Spencer Tracy or Vin Diesel. Instead he has landed the plum role of “The Guy” in about 47 different infomercials over the years.

So much for Art.

In most of his infomercial gigs he portrays a guy who is mildly stupid and needs to be enlightened by “The Gal” about the earthshaking benefits of whatever trashy product they are selling. I can’t believe he is really that dense. If he was that thick between the ears he would never have survived so long. He would have been distracted by a shiny object and wandered out into traffic or died horribly in his own apartment because he ignored the warning to, “Don’t try this at home!”

He must be a better actor than I’m giving him credit for – or he has an off-screen helper who keeps him fed and away from potentially dangerous home appliances. I’m not sure.

My point being –

This poorly acted and written infomercial that I chanced to bump into while eating grapes, on July 16, 2015, was showcasing the ease, importance and beauty of Outdoor Christmas Lighting so I could turn our home from simply being a boring “baby poop yellow” into a neighborhood shocking light show that would scare the neighbor’s dogs and probably be visible from space.

This infomercial went a bit farther than most by having “unpaid testimonials from satisfied customers.”

They showed the exterior of a house that looked as if it was being invaded by Smallpox pustules that could crawl around over your siding at will. It was spooky.

When they interviewed a woman who claimed to be the home owner she seemed not only overjoyed, but seriously overdosed. Lord knows what she was seeing. She sang the praises of the lighting gizmo that did this to her house, exclaiming how much she enjoyed having strangers come down her street and drive slowly past her home. In most neighborhoods that kind of activity would generate phone calls to the Police.

To me it all looked like a prelude to a drive-by shooting.

OK, so this was just another infomercial for yet another product that I neither want, need or would take as a gift. I didn’t stop eating my grapes and I didn’t dial the toll free number at the bottom of my screen.

But wait! There’s more!

As I sat there watching this thing, that only needed Tap Dancing Zombies to make it worse, the one and only pertinent fact finally wormed its way to the surface of my consciousness:

It was July 16th for cryin’ out loud!

Why were these Morons of Marketing running this infomercial in the middle of Summer? It is 86 degrees outside, I’m wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and the dog next door is trying not to die from heat prostration.

Who in their right mind would be buying Christmas lights on July 16th?

Maybe the actor playing “The Guy?” He seems to be downright enthusiastic about the whole idea of turning his home into an eyesore. But, then again, he is getting paid to do this gig.

Now, this may seem callous, but here goes.

I hope that this actor’s parents are deceased. I say that because I hate to think that they would be watching this infomercial and have to endure the anguish of realizing that they paid a bloody fortune to send their boy to the Yale Drama School for four years and this infomercial is, very likely, the peak of his career. If they weren’t already deceased, seeing this infomercial might be enough to warrant the removal of any sharp objects from their home.

Their home – the one WITHOUT the friggin’ ugly Christmas lights infecting the neighborhood.

Unlimited Possibilities?

 

TELEVISION. IT’S A MIRACLE. IT’S A CURSE. I love it. I hate it. But one thing I don’t do is hook up all of the equipment and cables.

My wife, the lovely and electronically wizardlike, Dawn, does all of that.

That’s OK by me. She is good at it, enjoys deciphering the gobbledegook instructions, and she doesn’t burst into flames like I do in situations like that.

Our Cable TV System – They call themselves “Spectrum” now, which doesn’t mean or accomplish anything other than help people forget that they used to be “Time-Warner,” decided to upgrade their system to “All Digital.” To be honest – I thought they did that several years ago, but what do I know?

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

 

 

Randall The Candle

candleIN 1997 THERE WAS AN EPISODE of “Law And Order” (An American Cops and Robbers TV show set in New York City) that had a character, an arsonist, who went by the moniker of “Randall the Candle.”

Cut to 2015 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Change the battery in your smoke alarm.”) and a conversation with one of the “Usual Suspects” during services at the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

The “Suspect” – a former resident of New York City and the son of an NYPD Detective and I were discussing the recent fire at a café across the street from St. Arbucks that destroyed the place within 24 hours of their “Grand Opening.” He hinted that it looked a little suspicious and that maybe “Randall the Candle” was in town.

Egads!

Further interrogation uncovered one of those “Art imitating Life” things. According to the Usual Suspect seated in the chair across from me – Randall the Candle was a real person, and an arsonist, and an off-the-books consultant for the NYPD about fires of a “suspicious nature.”

I do not find this to be at all beyond belief because every writer I know borrows from real life in every paragraph and a character called “Randall the Candle” is too good to pass up. If he didn’t exist you would have to create him.

Given the timeline of the TV show and the youthful remembrances of my cohort in coffee, I would guess that “Randall” is long gone to that Great Tinder Box in the Sky.” He isn’t still alive to file any lawsuits over using his colorful nickname. Even if he was around to make a play for some cash – any court action would almost certainly result in him admitting to a long career in crime and that would then open up a whole new set of fertilizer hitting the fan issues.

It seems that in real life, rather than “reel life,” Randall the Candle was a man who worked on both sides of the Law. For the right price he would light up your life and/or your warehouse in such a manner that your insurance company would have to pay off. He was a Capital P Professional.

But as active as he was, Randall wasn’t the only game in town and he did not like competition – especially “small p” professional arsonists who did sloppy work. It was sort of like a dishonest politician smearing the reputation of an honest —  wait, bad analogy there. There are no honest politicians. But you get my drift.

Randall the Candle would work with the police on cases of arson – helping them to identify how the job was done and often by whom. Arsonists, like most people, are creatures of habit and tend to repeat themselves – left sock, right sock, left shoe, right shoe, left incendiary device, right incendiary device.

In my own perverted literary way I am glad to learn that Randall the Candle actually existed. His whole story has a Damon Runyon-esque flavor to it. With a name like his, and a decent voice and sense of rhythm, he could easily have been a character in “Guys and Dolls.”

I can’t say that “they don’t make ‘em like Randall the Candle anymore.” I don’t know.   But I’ll bet you’d be hard pressed to find some jamoke with the moxie to play with the bacon and still run with his torch like Randall the Candle.

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