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isolated thumbs up and thumbs down

I’m a total sucker for a good disaster movie, mainly because I had the privilege to see the movies that gave birth to this film genre. So it was a “no duh” that when we saw the trailer for “San Andreas,” my daughter and I looked at each other and said, “We are SO there.”

As we were walking into the theater I told my daughter that my only hope for this movie is that they don’t inundate us with highly implausible situations that the heroes manage to escape (virtually unscathed mind you) against all probable odds.

Sigh. Once again Hollywood proves to be a huge disappointment.

“San Andreas” was filled with so many hard to believe action/rescue/survival scenes that midway through the movie just made me laugh out loud (much to my 13 year old’s total mortification). I mean, rescue copters couldn’t save one single person from the twin towers on 911 – but the Rock? He pulled his wife off the top of a building, just as it crumbled to a heap of rubble, and then managed to fly under a building, as it was falling to the ground, and get them to safety.

Yeah, safety for about 12 minutes, when it was then time for our stars to be thrust into yet another un-survivable situation where they of course manage to survive…still relatively unscathed. It sucked because that’s what Hollywood thinks we need to be on the edge of our seat.

Well, Hollywood needs to have a movie night. They need to sit in one of those plush, fancy screening rooms and watch the following classics to learn what a good disaster movie is all about. poseidon-adventure 1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) A luxury liner is hit by an earthquake induced tidal wave and capsizes on New Year’s Day. A solid premise and an all star cast.

I saw this movie with my Mom and sisters at Radio City Music Hall during Christmas break. There are plenty of back stories to introduce us to the characters, but once that boat overturns, you are in for a pound as you watch the 10 main players try to see the morning after (some slight humor that will be lost if you’ve never seen the movie).

The scene where the boat gets hit, while riveting in the 70s, is quite laughable now. This was prior to the days where Hollywood had a rolling room – like when Lionel Ritchie was dancing on the ceiling. So, you can see people sliding to their deaths as the boat is turning upside down, but dishes remain on the tables, and chairs are not sliding right along with them.

That being said, the rest of the movie was believable. The survivors had to scale a large metal Christmas tree, climb through pipes, and up ladders. They had to walk through a hot kitchen with a few small fires, and swim under water for 40 feet or so. And some of the stars died along the way just doing this sort of average shit.

The Rock? He managed to drive his speed boat UP a tsunami wave, while avoiding a cargo ship that is about to crash on top of him. Too bad he wasn’t at the helm of the SS Poseidon. There never would have been a movie – he would have been able to maneuver the boat over the wave, saving EVERYONE on board.

The biggest “come on” moment for me in Poseidon Adventure is at the end where Gene Hackman jumps onto the steam valve wheel to stop the flow of hot steam that, to quote Robin, “is blocking our escape.” And it’s not that this action is implausible, it’s just that Hollywood fucked it up. It doesn’t look like he’s really hanging there and turning the wheel. It looks like he’s standing on a box out of frame trying to look like he’s hanging and turning the wheel. But even that is better than anything that came out of San Andreas. Plus the speech he gives while hanging and turning the wheel is pure gold. Earthquake-Theatrical-Poster-Courtesy-of 2. Earthquake (1974) Pretty much the same premise as San Andreas – an earthquake of unimaginable magnitude hits California.

That, my friends, is where the similarities end.

Because the real star of this 1974 movie, which introduced us to Sensurround, was the earthquake itself. Well, Charlton Heston & George Kennedy helped too. My point is the movie didn’t need to filled with harrowing rescue scenes or heroes surviving in impossible situations.

I think the biggest “rescue” scenes were having to help a mom and her little son out of a drainage culvert, and when they had to lower some survivors from an office chair tied to a firehose down a few stories. Oh, and the guy drinking a beer and eating a chicken leg who fell from his deck and subsequently tumbled past Genevieve Bujold during the quake?

That was both exciting and hysterical. I mean life is fragile…one minute you’re eating some cold chicken and enjoying the view, and the next?

Okay, so the earthquake scenes in this 1974 movie were laughable compared to what we saw in San Andreas, but that sort of proves my point. They didn’t need the Rock to save the world…just show us the earthquake with realistic, gut churning reality, and show people trying to survive the aftermath.

Case in point – Victoria Principal’s character in the 74 movie – she survives the earthquake only to face attempted rape by her creepy neighbor. That’s more realistic than the Rock having to crash land a helicopter in a shopping mall. That’s REAL. The Rock? He bitch slapped some dude stealing TVs and stole his truck.towering_inferno_ver3_xlg 3. The Towering Inferno (1974)

A shoddily built luxury high rise catches fire while the star-studded cast is in trapped at party on the top floor. I LOVE this movie – good guys, bad guys, assholes, heroes – it’s got it all! And the kicker? OJ is one of the good guys! Who’d-a-thunk?

There are quite a few edge-of-your-seat moments in this film, but they don’t revolve around one character (gee, like the Rock!). Each star has his or her own harrowing moment. There’s one scene where Paul Newman has to help a woman and two children (one of which is Bobby Brady) shimmy down a broken stairwell via a twisted bannister over a sheer drop to certain death. Note that they did not have to tandem parachute…like the Rock.

The Towering Inferno Director: John Guillermin US Premiere: 10 December 1974 Copyright 1974 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Warner Bros. Inc.

Another great scene is when the outside elevator breaks and has to be manually lowered to the ground – with a less than satisfactory result. The last ditch effort to get stranded guests out of the building is to rig a breeches buoy from the burning building to one across the street. Screaming guests are tied into this contraption and pulleyed across death defying heights to the neighboring building.

That works until greedy, impatient men decide to overload the device…well, you’ll just have to watch the movie.

Should I bring up “Airport?”

Nah, this is getting too long. But it’s another great example of how they did disaster better back in the 70s.

My point – These movies relied on a star-studded cast, each with their own story to tell. So the action never got stuck with one person. In “San Andreas” it’s all the Rock. The Rock’s wife, the Rock’s daughter, the kids who befriend the Rock’s daughter.

And Paul Giamatti – whose role was way more riveting than the Rock’s.

You may read this and say, “Those movies suck!” Yes, they have shitty effects. Yes, some of the acting is campy. Yes, they relied on gimmicks like Sensurround.

But in all honesty? They are still way better than “San Andreas.”

RAdio

This morning when I was out walking, Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light” came on my iPod. This song has a very special meaning to me – you see, it was the very first song that my first-born daughter ever heard.

It was August of 1995, and we were in the car driving her home from the hospital. “I Saw The Light” came on the radio. I have always liked that song, so I stopped my husband from changing the channel, and sang along. When it was over, I turned to him and said, “That was Sam’s first song. That’s her song.”

Now before I go on with this story, you need a little bit of background information. My husband is a musicaholic – it’s his passion. His true love. Have you ever asked the question of whether you would rather be blind or deaf? I always sided with deafness, because I would need to see my girls grow up..to see them graduate, walk down the aisle, have kids of their own.

Hubby? He would opt for blindness because he couldn’t imagine not being able to listen to music. I mean I love Springsteeen, but I’d rather be able to see than hear Rosalita.

But music goes a lot deeper with my husband, because it’s been a part of his life for so long. When he was young, he decided to get into radio. He went to a broadcasting school in New York City, and got a job working for WNEW, who had both AM and FM stations. While the AM station was news, sports and tunes from the 30’s & 40’s, the FM station was all rock. Classic rock – and a big wheel in the New York radio market.

He wasn’t on the air, because he said his tape that he made at broadcasting school sucked. But he worked with a popular DJ as an intern, then in the newsroom, and then a remote producer. However that didn’t mean he was tied to a dark studio. There were concerts and lots of them. And when you worked at the top rock radio station in a town like New York? You get to see EVERYONE.

He would go to concerts to hand out promotional items to fans, and then help backstage with live interviews. Can you imagine that? BACKSTAGE at Madison Square Garden, Giant’s Stadium or the Brendan Byrne Arena (now the Izod Center) for every show imaginable. He has a collection of backstage passes that would blow your mind.

A very young Hubby, on the far left in the yellow tee – and yes, that’s Pete Townshend. Fun Fact – he still has that exact T-Shirt.

And he’s seen everyone. I can’t name them all, but if it’s an artist or band that had any musical cred in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s – he’s seen them. He’s got a pretty massive collection of ticket stubs too. He always tells me if I wrote about his musical exploitations rather than ramble on about my goofy life, I’d have a million followers.

But even after his time at WNEW ended, he’s managed to stay involved in music. Right now he works at two entertainment venues where he still gets to be behind the scenes, although it’s on a much smaller scale. So far this year he’s worked the Snoop Dogg concert and helped Dwight Yoakam with his meet & greet. And let’s not forget, it was through this job that I got to meet Springsteen, where I got a kiss on the cheek from the Boss himself, followed by backstage passes to his concert that very same night.

It was one of the best nights of my life, and he did shit like that a few times a week.

He’s also managed to turn our youngest daughter onto all sorts of classic rock bands. She loves ELO, The Beatles and Chicago. When he does dishes or cleans the house, the iTunes goes on, and the songs blast out…everything from Supertramp to Sinatra, from Manilow to Manhattan Transfer – his tastes are beyond eclectic – they are scattered wider than the universe.

Yeah, it’s safe to say he lives music.

And sports – but that’s another blog post.

So when I turned to him in the summer of 1995 and said, “That was Sam’s first song. That’s her song” maybe now you can understand why he immediately began a frantic channel search to find a song he could embrace. Because his first daughter’s first song was way too important to him, and fate had chosen Todd Rundgren.

He claims it’s not her song even to this day, but it is.

And it’s fitting as well. With the exception of a few lines here and there, it really can be the story of a mom looking into her childs eyes for the first time. Take a listen and see what I mean. Listen to my daughter’s very first song.

podcast-headphones

For the past few years I was a devoted downloader of audio books from LibriVox.org – it’s a site that has tons of books that have been released into the public domain.  Through that site I discovered a stockpile of great reading material that I might have overlooked simply because the books were “old.” I discovered authors like Horatio Alger, Jr., and Lucy Maud Montgomery, and wonderful books like “The Enchanted Barn,” and “Dandelion Cottage.”

But after a few years, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve listened to all the good ones. I’ve downloaded dud after dud the past month or so – either the story sucks or the reader does, and I give up after a chapter or two. I needed something new, and fast.

Enter the podcast. I found that there are tons and tons of podcasts on iTunes – all free, and just sitting there waiting for me to download and enjoy. I mean, there are so many it’s almost overwhelming. It’s like I’d stumbled into an audio goldmine.

Here are my favorites so far:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.03.43 PMReal Time with Bill Maher: We recently had to cancel HBO in order to save some money on our ever-rising cable bill. Therefore, I was thrilled to see that I could download new episodes and listen to them while I walk. Who needs to see the panel? It’s what they say that’s of any interest anyway.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.09.22 PMRadio Diaries: This was the first of the story-telling podcasts I stumbled across. They are stories on seemingly random topics – like when a plane hit the Empire State Building back in the 40’s, or the Miss Subways contests, which I never even knew existed.  There were only ten episodes available for download, and I listened to every one of them. I’m hoping for more to be available soon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.16.53 PMCriminal: Stories of crime – like a guy who went to jail for murdering his wife, when actually they think she was killed from an owl attack. Or a girl who spent a few months passing off counterfeit $20 bills with her shiftless boyfriend. Or, a young hacker who pretty much shut down the internet back in 1999.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.45.38 PMUnfictional: I’m not sure how to describe this one. It’s just stories on random topics…a gravedigger in England, the Salem Witch Trials, the story of Dog Mountain. Perhaps it seems like a snooze to you, but they are really well-crafted and super interesting. They remind me of when CBS Sunday Morning runs a story on some person you never heard of, but it’s still very entertaining.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.59.36 PMPorchlight Storytelling Series: This one’s a wee bit wacky. These two San Francisco gals invite 6 people to an open mike to tell their stories relating to a specific topic. These can be delicously awkward, especially when the story teller is hoping for a response from the audience—aka, a laugh—and gets none. Plus they never know how to end the story gracefully. It’s great.

I really dig these podcasts – maybe because they remind me of my blog. I’m just telling my stories to anyone who cares to listen. I, in turn, like hearing their stories. It makes the world seem wonderfully chaotic – filled with all these people who all have their own tales to tell.

I’ll tell you, it makes my walks and my morning commute much more entertaining.

Radio

I love talk radio.

It may stem from the years I spent driving with my dad as a child. With dad, there was no tuning in to to the throngs of New York city’s music stations – no chance of hearing ABBA or KC and the Sunshine Band. With dad it was all talk radio.

Some of it was a real snore, especially the shows that gave investment advice. That was when you stared out the window watching the scenery whiz by dreaming of the day the Walkman would be invented. But sometimes the shows were interesting, especially Bob Grant who would yell at callers if he was in the mood to do so. I thought he was horribly mean, but it made for good radio.

When I got a car of my own my love for talk radio grew. Whenever I made trips to the Jersey Shore or down to U of D, I’d turn to talk radio because, quite frankly, it got tiring listening to music. The stations could get very repetative – my brain would need a break from That’s What Friends are For.

Plus you would drive in and out of FM station range, usually during a song you loved. But for some reason AM radio waves travel super far. I live in Virginia, and sometimes on a clear night I can get 1010 WINS from New York City.

On these drives I found and fell in love with advice shows. Sally Jesse Raphael was always a good find – throngs of folks calling in to ask advice on a myriad of topics, some boring some bizarre. And who can forget Dr. Ruth talking about errrrrrections? (roll the “r”!) Now that was entertaining radio!

Years later when I moved to Florida I was desperately looking for a good talk radio advice show. Enter Dr. Laura. At first I was really excited – more troubled folk and expert advice – sign me up! But it didn’t take long for me to realize that Dr. Laura was, to put it mildly, a judgemental bitch.

One of her favorite things to harp on was working mothers, of which I was (and still am) one. In her mind there was no excuse what so ever for working when you had children. I would hear callers attempt to get advice about a problem, but if good old Dr. Laura got wind that you were a working mom you now had a second problem to deal with and rarely got any solutions to your first one.

That was the Dr. Laura game, and I got tired of getting angry and screaming at my dashboard. So I tuned her out. That was 15 years ago.  But I have to admit, every now and then I need a Dr. Laura refresher dose.

Talk radio here in Charlottesville is nothing to write home about. Althought it’s a fairly liberal college town, the local radio stations didn’t get that memo. It’s all Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingram and other ultra right-wing brain washing shows. They used to have Clark Howard on, but they got rid of him, and I stopped listening to the radio and moved on to audiobooks.

But lately I haven’t been able to latch onto a book that I really like so I turned to podcasts. Remembering my love of advice, searched for advice podcasts and stumbled across Dr. Laura. Should I or shouldn’t I? What the hell, I thought and downloaded 4 calls just to see if she was still as big of an asshole as I remember her being.

Call 1 – woman just got out of a 3 year abusive relationship and needs advice on how to move on. Right off the bat Dr. Laura digs for items she can use to cause shame – how long after your divorce did you start to date him? How many minor children in the household? You could almost hear the woman trying to answer in a way where Dr. Laura could find little fault in her.

Ha! Fat chance. A little over 1 minute in Dr. Laura called her pathetic – when the woman pressed on seeking help, Dr. Laura says, “Ok, so tell me why you are so stupid and weak.” What a saint.

Call 2 – A nurse calls in saying she is nervous about an upcoming surgery and was concerned about how she would feel becoming the patient. Dr. Laura’s response? “Well this tells me you look down on your patients.”

When the woman began to argue and defend herself, Dr. Laura said “I’m right – don’t you argue with me,” and then continued on to tell the woman that as a nurse she considers herself superior to her patients and gives them substandard care. And then finished the sentence with “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

It wasn’t until the woman was in tears that Dr. Laura pulled back and actually made an attempt to help her.

Call 3 – This was a classic Dr. Laura case. A 19 year old girl calls asking advice on ending her 3 year relationship with her boyfriend. Dr. Laura immediately discounts any validity in her relationship because you can’t possibly know what love is at 19. Then she berates the girl for shacking up and “Laying on her back and opening up her legs.”

You could hear the girl trying her best to ignore the snarky quips and attempt to get some advice, but it was tough coming. Eventually it came out that this poor girl was in foster care most of her life after getting away from an abuse mother. Then Dr. Douchebag was a bit more understanding of how she might have made some wrong choices and gave her some advice.

I never got to call 4. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was only 3 phone calls in and I was ready to punch her repeatedly.

But in those three calls I saw a pattern. Dr. Laura’s m.o. is to first shame you into submission if you have done anything that remotely goes against her strict moral code – the way she thinks the earth should turn. Then maybe she’ll help you. That puts her in charge; you’re a loser and you suck and you are to shut up and listen. I’ve seen dogs treated better than these poor souls that were coming to her for help.

She used this tactic in every call – she’s nothing but a big bully who makes a living putting folks who are already miserable in their place, and then rubbing their noses in their dispair for the sheer fun of it.

So I got my booster shot. She’s still a high riding bitch with followers who love abuse. Sigh. There will be no more of her podcasts on my iPod.

Now Clark Howard? That’s another story – he gives advice I can use. And he’s nice as pie to boot.


Footnote: I’m very proud of myself for having the restraint to not use the c word – it would have fit so nicely, too.

retro-tv

When I think back over some of the TV I watched since I first sat in front of our old black & white Zenith on the cold linoleum floor in our family room, I realized that there are a few that had staying power. Shows that I will sit and watch, no matter how many times I’ve seen them.

Because certain shows strike a chord in us. Others? Not so much.

I can think of dozens of shows I loved while growing up that hold little to no appeal to me now. It doesn’t mean they were bad shows (well some of them were), but they were only interesting at that particular time. If they came on as re-runs on TV Land or Hallmark channel, I just wasn’t that jazzed to sit and watch them.

Bet there are certain shows that I will watch forever. Maybe not every episode…let’s face it, every show has a few dud episodes…but if I stumble across them while channel surfing, my feet and the volume are going up.

Little-House-Praire

Little House on the Praire
I love this show – have since it first began airing on Wednesday nights back in 1974. My dad and I used to watch the Waltons, so when Little House pilot movie aired, we watched it. It was along the same vein as the Waltons…good old fashioned family drama. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked. Right from the first episode the rivalry between Nelly & Laura made me say “goodnight John Boy.”

For years I watched every episode. I comisserated with Laura when Mr. Applewood picked on her and made her the class example, or when she put the apples down her dress to make it look like she had boobs. I sighed when Jason wrote he loved her on the chalkboard, and when she got her first kiss from Almanzo. I cheered when she pushed Nelly down the hill in her wheelchair, and won the big race on the back of Bunny.

And it’s not just the main characters that drew me in. Mr. Edwards, Doc Baker. Mr. & Mrs. Oleson, and even Miss Beadle were part of my Little House family. Later I welcomed  the widow Schneider and the Sanderson children…I even liked the Garveys and later, Albert.

I cried when the entire town got sick with Anthrax, or when the entire town got lost in a snow storm, or when the entire town again got sick with Typhus. I cheered when the town softball team (the millers/merchants/heavenly hosts) beat Sleepy Eye, but then cried again when the blind school burnt down. You never knew what emotion you would be feeling during that hour of power on NBC.

The show lost me shortly after Almanzo and Laura got married, I have to admit. Those are my jump the shark years. Once Jason Bateman and Shannon Dougherty came on board I was pretty much boycotting the show. But I’ll watch almost every episode before that.

lucyethel_i_love_lucyI Love Lucy
This probably should have come first. I’ve been watching this show the longest, I think, and here are scenes that still make me laugh today, even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times. Lucille Ball has to be the greatest female television entertainer ever. No arguments.

Yes, there are the classics – stomping grapes, stuffing candy in her bra, getting tanked while rehearsing the Vitavetavegamin commercial. Those are all great, but there are a few that are my personal favorites.

  1. First Stop
    This is the episode where they stop at that crazy hotel on the way to California. I can watch the scene where the beds move back and forth across the room every time. And Ethel tucking Fred into bed? Freakin’ classic.
  2. The Operetta
    I can watch Lucy in a snaggle tooth ’till the end of time. Her performance as the Queen of the Gypsies is flawless. Also catch the episode where she plays the witch in Little Ricky’s play – another good snaggle toothed role.
  3. Lucy Gets a Paris Gown
    Both of the episodes where Lucy tries to get a designer gown are great – Don Loper in Hollywood and Jacques Marcel in Paris. She wore that feed bag with such grace and elegance…
  4. Ricky & Fred are TV Fans
    Lucy & Ethel are tired of being ignored while Ricky & Fred watch the fights. There is a great scene in the police station with veteran actor Frank Nelson that always kills me. That dude was in a bunch of different episodes and he’s good in every one.
  5. Anytime Lucy is In the Show
    Ricky was nuts! I’d pay to see Lucy in the show before I’d listen to one sour note from Ricky. Sally Sweet, Hiawatha, the pompous show horse? Lucy steals the show.

There are a ton more – that show was so good. But it did jump the shark. When they moved to the country I lost all interest.

MASH_TV_cast_1974

M*A*S*H
Every now and then some network will start re-running this show, and hubby and I will watch religiously.  We agree that the first few seasons were the best – the original cast our favorites by far. The episode with the incubator? That’s one of my favorites.  “Did you really yell give me an incubator or give me death?”

Or the one with Adam’s Ribs. “You sent all the way to Chicago and no coleslaw?”

Hubby thought it went down hill after Trapper and Henry left, and once Frank was gone? Fuggedaboudit.

I didn’t mind BJ or Colonel Potter at first. Giving Klinger more air-time was also a plus. I even liked Charles Emerson Winchester up to a point. But the last few seasons the jokes were forced – they came in rapid-fire succession and let’s face it…people just don’t talk like that. Plus everyone got so sanctimonious – BJ and Hawkeye were constantly on the soapbox, and if I had to hear the phrase “meatball surgery” one more time…

But gripes aside, this show gave us at least 7 good seasons and I can find quite a few must see episodes in every season, even the last few. My jump the shark moment was after Radar left, and Klinger stopped wearing dresses, and Margaret got nice.

ODDCOUPLE-superJumbo

The Odd Couple
I miss this show. Somebody needs to put it back on. It was a family favorite, especially with my sisters. Tony Randall was the best. He delivered so many great lines – had such great expressions. And that’s not to take any credit away from Jack Klugman – as a pair they were flawless.

Favorite episodes are (of course) Password, Calypso Felix – when Felix crashes on Oscar & Nancy’s vacation, Security Arms – where the men move into a high security apartment building, Scrooge Gets an Oscar – where Felix asks Oscar to play Scrooge and the Flying Felix – where Oscar helps Felix get over his fear of flying.

“I much fear serious trouble in the fuseladge, Frederick.”

To me, this show never jumped the shark. It’s just the best. The freakin’ best.

bunker-davis-kiss

All in the Family
Groundbreaking. Controversial. And so incredibly funny.

There’s something about every charachter that you love – Edith’s long stories, Mike’s constant political rants, Gloria’s blind adoration of her overly political husband, and Archie. Ah, Archie. TV’s bigoted everyman in a white shirt and loafers.

But it’s not just these four – other characters they brought on – even for just one episode – were great.

  1. The Ripleys
    Edith answers the ad in the swap section – enter Rue McLanahan and Vincent Gardenia who play a couple of swingers who are interested in “switching partners, but not for dancing.”
  2. Frank & Irene Lorenzo
    Vincent Gardenia returned in later episodes as Frank Lorenzo – those are all watch worthy. Irene is great too – it’s nice to see Edith get a friend for a short while
  3. Mrs. Jefferson
    Mr. Jefferson was okay, but I like Mrs. Jefferson – she’s my favorite park of the Sammy Davis Jr. episode
  4. The Robbers
    Clevon Little and Demond Wilson play two robbers hiding out in the Bunkers house. There is so many funny things in this episode – it’s a must see.
  5. Beverly LaSalle
    Archie gives mouth to mouth to a transvestite. How great is that. Her character was wonderful – funny and warm. And I loved how they wrote in her death later on.
  6. And then there’s Maude
    While I didn’t like the spinoff Maude, I loved the episode where she was introduced. Cream of wheat with cheese…classic.

All in the Family jumped the shark when Mike & Gloria moved to California. The introduction of Daniell Brisebois (how do I remember these things?????) did little for me. I stopped watching. We won’t even mention Archie Bunker’s Place…

Mama_Loves_Mambo

The Honeymooners – Classic 39
Almost every episode in the classic 39 are priceless gems, jam packed with quotable lines. While I do love the majority of them, my favorite episodes by far are:

  1. A Woman’s Work Is Never Done
    Alice, tired of cleaning and getting zero appreciation for it, decides to go to work and get a maid. This episode is so freakin’ funny and filled with great quotable lines
    “I’m the only girl in town with an atomic kitchen – this place looks like Yucca Flats after the blast!”
    “Some guest, some employer…the simp and the blimp”
    “I dont clean up after any late night snacks, and from the looks of it this boy has plenty of late night snacks.”
    “If this is the servants quarters, I quit.”
  2. Young at Heart
    Ralph tries to prove to Alice that he can still act youthful. I love the scene when they dance “The Hucklebuck,” and the scene at the end where they are around the table reminiscing. Ralph begins to laugh for real during this scene and doubles over, gasping for breath. My favorite lines:
    “You’re a termite Ralph, stricly out of the wood”
    “I’ll kiss you later I’m eatin’ a patater”
    “How can someone so round be so square”
  3. Alice and the Blonde
    Alice & Trixie feel ignored by Ralph & Norton especially after they attentively fawn over Rita, Burt Wiedermeier’s blonde bombshell of a wife. The scene at Burt’s apartment and the following scene in the Kramden’s kitchen are fantastic tv fare. Great quotes include:
    “Leave it there the cat’ll get it”
    “A treasure? He keeps this up much longer he’s going to be a BURIED treasure.”
    “I call you “Killer” ’cause you slay me” – “And I’m calling Bellevue ’cause you’re nuts!”
    “Isn’t that a good idea, Tubby?”

You also can’t forget Ralph playing golf, wearing the man from space costume, Norton’s Captain video getup, and the Chefs of the Future. But I gotta tell you…I also enjoyed every single rant of Alice’s – they are great. Her colorful descriptions of their dreary apartment kill me everytime and I love seeing Ralph – who can be quite a bully/shithead sometimes – put soundly in his place.

brady-bunch-stairs

The Brady Bunch
Ok, ok, ok – stop groaning. I just can’t help it…I still love watching this show. My 12 year old breaks my chops everytime she catches me watching it, claiming it’s beyond lame. And this coming from a girl who watches Victorious…hmph. If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black.

Maybe I love it because it takes me back to cozy Friday nights in front of the television – eating rice pudding from the Pathmark and listening to my mom putting away groceries in the kitchen. Or maybe it’s because the plot lines are so positively goofy that I just never tire of them.

I mean really, what’s not to love?

  • Brushes with Greatness – Davy Jones, Desi Arnaz Junior, Joe Namath, Don Drysedale – you never knew who was going to waltz through the front (or back) door of the Brady Home.
  • A Well Travelled Family – The Brady’s got outta dodge pretty often…the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Kings Island Amusement Park…not to mention episodes involving camping, skiing, boating. The Brady’s were always on the go!
  • Tons of Guest Stars – Vincent Price, Melissa Sue Gilbert (although she wasn’t a star yet), Imogene Coca, Marion Ross, Marcia Wallace, Jim Backus, Jackie Koogan & Don Ho to name a few.
  • Alice – I loved Alice. Plain & simple.

My favorite episodes are by far the iconic ones. Marsha & Doug Simpson rank up there among the best episodes ever. Oh my nose! over and over and over again? Come, on…it’s unbeatable. The new Jan Brady is another stellar, can’t miss episode, along with the one where Peter has his personality crisis aka the famous “porkchops & applesauce” line. And my final favorite? When the Brady kids sing in the talent competition to win money to pay for the silver platter. Along with not one, but TWO classic, albeit utterly cheesy songs, I get to hear Alice say the line “Third place? What a gyp? It’s the last time I ever watch that crooked channel.”

That line had my and sisters rolling on the ground when we were kids. And it’s still chuckle-worthy to me now.

TV of Today…
I wonder what shows we watch today will have staying power for me? Some shows we watch for a year or so constantly – Like Everybody Loves Raymond, Frazier or Will & Grace. I loved those shows, but when try to sit and watch them now, I find myself switching channels during the commercial and not going back.

I know The Sopranos hit a chord with me. I will watch episodes of that on demand often enough to where I feel confident it will stay on my permanent watch list. But I wonder if shows like Modern Family, or any of the dozens of reality shows I watch will still interest me in the future. Can I see myself in 2025 settling down on my couch for a marathon viewing of Toddlers & Tiaras?

Somehow I doubt it. Housewives of New Jersey? Now maybe.

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Today my girls and I are spending another day at King’s Dominion – one of the big amusement parks here in Virginia. While showering, I was thinking of what rides we might go on today- trying to think of rides we haven’t gone on a whole lot so far this year.

The first ride that came to mind is the White Water Canyon. You know the ride – it’s the giant raft that seats 6 and rushes down a rapids-filled river. I used to love this ride, but not anymore. At least not at King’s Dominion.

In the past, this ride used to be like a giant crap shoot…a watery roll of the dice. You chose your seat carefully because on this ride, some folks got wet and others didn’t. It all depended on who the fickle hand of fate felt like pointing her watery finger at. A current or a bump up against the side of the canyon could cause the raft to spin at the last minute, changing the course of someone’s day – who would wind up with crotch-rot and who would stay dry?

Many times I got off this ride with nothing more than a few droplets of water on my shorts, or just wet shoes. Other times I was soaked to the skin while my fellow riders, pointing at me and laughing,  might only have a wet sleeve. That’s what made it fun. You just never knew how you would fare by the ride’s end.

But now? You get wet. Period. King’s Dominion changed the course of the ride within the past few years and no matter where you sit, no matter how the raft bobs, spins or dips, the vessel is channeled to go under a giant waterspout, dousing every passenger. You come off that ride soaked right down to your Fruit of the Looms. Crotch-rot all around!

I don’t understand why they changed it. There was a beauty to the older ride…a randomness. The ride was different every time and that’s what I liked about it. You stood in line wondering if you were going to be walking down the exit ramp dry or dripping wet. My husband, who finds walking in wet shorts to be highly disagreeable, was never willing to risk it.

Well, darlin’…there’s no risk now. No matter what you do, no matter where you sit, the fine folks at KD have engineered it so the house wins every time.

And I think it sucks.

cave-bear

I am listening to Clan of the Cave Bear on audio book. It’s a first for me – not the story, just having it told to me rather than me reading it. I’ve read the books over and over again. Once I finish the complete series, a year or so will go by and I again feel the need to touch base with Ayla.

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Me have shitty make-up

I can’t remember how old I was the first time I read the books. I just know I had read them before the horrible 1986 attempt at a movie. Part of the reason why it was so laughable was their depiction of early man. The cavemen on the old Geiko commercials are more convincing than this sorry lot of cave dwellers. It’s obvious that Hollywood was neither equiped nor capable of telling this story back in the 80’s.

But now? Now that’s a different story. Now Hollywood could knock this book out of the park. If they can make computer generated apes look like the real deal, how hard could it be to make a few cavemen?

But I wouldn’t want a remake of the movie. The book is written with complex, detailed descriptions of what life might have been like for primitive man. It’s just too much to fit into a 2 or 3 hour movie. What I want is a series. A series like Game of Thrones, where time is taken to really tell the story and develop characters.

But only a premium channel could take this on properly. Cause primitive man can get pretty steamy in them furs. Well, maybe not in the first book. But once Jondalar comes on the scene, watch out. Game of Thrones is like a Lifetime movie compared to some of the stuff that goes on in the Earth’s Children series of books.

Ah Jondalar. Decribed as 6 foot 6, blonde and… (ahem) hung. I’d like to be at that casting call…

My point is I love these books and I think they deserve a second chance. There are tons of Clan Fans out there – I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to see these stories put to film. You just have to do it right.

So this is my plea to HBO, Showtime, Netflix – anyone who thinks they could do these books justice. For the love of Ursus & Mut…Bring the Earth’s Children to the people of Earth.

meatballs-poster-artwork-harvey-atkin-bill-murray-kristine-debell

On Sunday night I was scrolling through the channel guide for something to watch, and stumbled across an old summer favorite – Meatballs. Thrilled to have found this movie from my youth, I poured a glass of wine, crossed my legs, and sat back to watch.

About 15 minutes later hubby stuck his head in the room and said, “Meatballs? Why are you watching this? That movie sucked.”

Sucked? Meatballs?

Ok, I’ll admit it’s not the wittiest comedy ever put on the silver screen, and it is on my Pinterest list of  “movies I love but shouldn’t” (along with Overboard and The Great Outdoors). But there’s something about this movie that speaks to me.

I saw it when it came out in 1979 at the ripe old age of 14 – probably at the Park Lane Theater in Palisades park. I had always wanted to go to summer camp. My girlfriend Leslie went every year and I was so jealous of the stories she’d tell when she got back. I guess Meatballs was how I fantasized summer camp would be – making friends, falling in love, hijinx and mayhem all rolled into one.

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The characters make it all seem so effortless, of course. Candace, with her perfect teeth, and Crocket, with his curly hair, are the perfect couple. A.L., quintissential girl next door, and Wendy, the blonde bombshell, are mirrored by sporto Jackie & the nerdy girl (whose name quite escapes me). Hardware is ugly/cute with his huge nose, and Spaz & Fink round out the loveable nerd set on the guys side.

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But I didn’t like all the characters. Wheels drives me absolutely crazy with his lisp and his big nose. And Bill Murray’s love interest Roxanne? Couldn’t they get someone a little more appealing? And while I really liked Rudy – they needed to comb his hair a little more often.

Boo Jody!

Boo Jody!

And there was this one small character named Jody. She reminded me of all the girls in school who were not quite pretty, but were thin and had great hair, and therefore, were popular.

I don’t like her much either.

In real life, I doubt these folks would have all gotten along – but this is Hollywood, and at 14 I didn’t know any better. I liked to watch and think, “well that’s just the perfect summer” and that such a summer could be attained just as easily. That friends and boys and fun would all just come to me organically. Like magic.

Like I said – I was 14.

Yet when I watch it now, I’m reminded of those feelings, and I feel like a little girl with the whole summer ahead of her. And it makes me smile.

Are you ready for the summer?

Rocky Horror

When I was a teenager, I spent quite a few Friday nights ringing in the weekend with a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My friend John introduced me to it. I think the first time I saw it was at  the Oritani Theater in Hackensack, NJ, and for the next several years I’d go see it at least 6 or 7 times a year.

The movie would bounce from one venue to another – I guess theater owners got tired of cleaning up the toilet paper, playing cards, wet newspapers & rice and would say sayonara to Rocky and the gang. But we’d find the theater it moved to.

I don’t know what it was that struck a cord in me when I first saw it. I loved the music, that’s for sure. I think I went through two copies of the soundtrack album I played it so often. Perhaps I liked it was because it was somewhat naughty – a dude in a corset, thigh highs and f*ck-me heels? You don’t see that in your average movie. I sat doe-eyed in my seat while the audience yelled at the screen and pelted me with toast and other flying props.

But that’s why I loved it so much. It was so much more than just watching a movie – you were a part of what made the night fun – the more the audience participated, the better the show. Each time you went, you learned a few more lines and brought a few more props. And you did the Time Warp.

What fun it was to get out of your seat, run up the aisle to the front of the theater, and do the Time Warp in a line with a bunch of total strangers! And after that, Frankenfurter would appear, stomping his heel as the elevator descended. Yeah, at this point the training wheels were off and you were in for one hell of a ride.

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I don’t like men with too many muscles.

Every one has a character in that movie they relate to. Me? I was a Janet girl. Innocent and sweet, and thrust into a world of perversion against her will. But underneath that virginal, small town girl shell is a saucy little vixen. She spends half the movie walking around in a bra and half slip, which made it really difficult to dress up as her for Halloween.

I went as Magenta instead.

Certain theaters went beyond showing the movie – it was more of an all night event. When I was in college I used to see Rocky Horror at the State Theater on Main Street in Newark, Delaware. They began by showing a Bugs Bunny cartoon, then you watched Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” video, followed by the Tim Curry videos for “I Do The Rock,” and “Paradise Garage.” By that time it was a quarter to 1 and the main event hadn’t even started.

Rocky Horror at the State Theater also included live performers who would act out the movie on the stage directly in front of the screen. This was an element that most of theaters we frequented in New Jersey lacked. These folks took their performances very seriously, and they were good. Once the lips faded from the screen and the credits began to roll you would stumble home at 2:30 am in a Rocky Horror daze.

After college the Rocky Horror craze began to diminish – less and less theaters played it and I usually had other things to do on a Friday or Saturday night. Then one summer while I was on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard we saw that they were playing it at some town building in Tisbury, and we all decided to go. I had a cousin who had never seen it, and was interested to see what all the hubbub was.

And this was where I had a Rocky Horror awakening. It was the first time I went to a showing just to see the movie. From the start I realized nobody in the small audience was going to be shooting water pistols or yelling “Nice Tits!” And nobody was going to get up and do the Time Warp. We just sat and watched the movie.

It was a shock to my system. I heard lines I’d never been able to hear before because the audience wasn’t  yelling “Asshole,” for 3 minutes straight. But I missed the chaos. And I felt bad for those who had come to see  it. They really didn’t get to experience the true Rocky Horror Picture Show – they just watched a movie about a strange guy in women’s underwear.

Once the movie came out on DVD I bought it, and yes, I showed it to my girls (mother of the year!). My youngest really loves it, and I look forward to one day taking her to a theater at midnight and letting her experience the thrill of yelling at the screen, throwing rice, shielding our heads with a newspaper, and getting up to do the time warp.

After all, it’s just a jump to the left.

ComcastAs of today I officially hate Comcast. Like really super duper seethingly passionate hatred.

Let’s be honest. I’ve always hated the cable company. It all started with Cable Vision when I lived in New Jersey. They were notorious for failing to show for scheduled appointments, and then telling you that they dame, but you weren’t at home. This is after you’d spent the last 5 hours waiting in your home that was sans cable.

Before Comcast came to my humble little home, I was dealing with a cable company that was so utterly inept, so entirely clueless, that a call to solve your issue literally took hours. So when Comcast took over, and my internet always worked, and my cable only went out when a monsoon was blowing through, I was thrilled.

But over the past year or so, the service has really begun to suffer. I’ll sit down to watch something on Demand, a service they love to advertise in order to get you to “choose Comcast,” and I’ll get an error message.

Grrr.

Now I have to call Comcast, where the automated bitch will tell me she’s sending a bullet to our TVs which should solve the problem. When that doesn’t fix it, you have to call again, and the customer service rep, who 95% of the time can barely speak English, tells you to unplug your box for 30 seconds and then plug it back in.

After the tv takes 20 minutes to reboot, the problem is usually fixed. But, I’ve now wasted 30 minutes of my time when all I wanted to do was plop down on the couch and watch last night’s episode of “The Bachelor.” (aside…wasn’t Juan Pablo a tool?)

If it were just that problem once in a blue moon I wouldn’t be complaining. Everything goes on the fritz every now and then. The problem I have with Comcast is that the problem happens over and over and over again on every cable box I own. Not just one, not just two, but ALL THREE.

Once one box is fixed, another goes klabooey 10 days later. Once that one is fixed, a week later the third decides it doesn’t feel like working. And around 9 days after that, the first cable box will once again lovingly display it’s error message.

I’ve got Comcast on speed dial. Bonnie & Clyde were hit with less bullets than have been sent to my house courtesy of my shitty cable company.

But Monday afternoon I got fed up. Monday & Tuesdays are my early days – I get out at 2 pm – and I was looking forward to a walk, and then sitting down to watch the two episodes of “Walking Dead” that I had missed. I finished my walk, shucked my shoes and socks, and  with my feet up on the table hit the On Demand button.

I was rewarded with yet another error message. I muttered a not so silent expletive, got up and unplugged the box dialing 1-800-COMCAST with my free hand. I had 20 minutes to kill – may as well chew someone’s head off while I waited for my TV to reboot. I didn’t even want a technician…I just wanted to yell at someone.

Once the TV came back on, not only did On Demand not work, but my DVR was gone as well. Mother f-er – my patience was certainly being tested today! Another call to Comcast landed me an English speaking American based service rep – things were looking up. She was super nice – scheduled an appointment for a technician to come the next day, listened to all my griping, and commiserated with my misery. I felt somewhat placated, but was still angry.

The next day, home early again, I skipped my walk because I didn’t want to miss the cable guy who was coming between 3 and 5. 3 o’clock turned to 4. 4 o’clock turned to 4:45. I picked up the phone and called Comcast. Because we had a scheduled appointment, I got a recorded voice saying, “Your appointment is scheduled for 3 pm to 5 pm. Your technician should arrive between 5:05 and 5:35.”

That in itself was a riot. I’m so glad you are admitting to me that my technician is sorta late. As long as he’s still coming.

And at 5:30 we got the call. A Comcast rep called to tell us that our technician called in sick and nobody would be coming today.

Can you say ballistic?

I went off on this gal. If the dude called in sick, why couldn’t they call us to let us know RATHER THAN HAVE ME SIT AROUND MY HOUSE FOR 3 HOURS ON A BEAUTIFUL 75 DEGREE AFTERNOON?

When she tried to reschedule for the next day, I told (screamed to) her that I have to work to make the money to pay for their shitty service. After a few minutes hubby grabbed the phone from me. I was irate and getting nowhere towards getting our cable fixed.

Hubby could be home for the technician if they came between 8 and noon. Fine. He had already nabbed us a $20 discount for the no-show technician. I guess I could live without the DVR and the On Demand for one night.

The next day the dude shows up begins to trouble shoot our lines. I had to leave for work, and left him in hubby’s hands. I came home to a “new” box in my living room, which was not actually new. A scratched, ugly, disgusting refurbished box sat where my well taken care of old one used to be. Seems Comcast doesn’t make new boxes anymore for crappy poor folk like us who can’t afford their snazzy and expensive triple play super high def cable package. Only those rich folks get them nice new shiny boxes.

Oh, and we lost every single thing we’ve ever taped.

I hate Comcast. Can I say that again, please? I seriously need to look into alternatives to traditional cable. However, after a bit of research, that is going to mean a technological leap of faith that I don’t think my family could handle.

Yet.

But I’m going to make it my goal to change their minds. I am so tired of these dickheads taking my very hard earned money and giving me sub-standard service in return. The day will come. The day will come when I can give Comcast a huge middle finger farewell salute, and tell them they don’t have Typical Tracy to push around anymore.

Postscript
I’ve just had to make two more phone calls to Comcast tonight. Our new box came, and our OnDemand still doesn’t work. Cris, my first tech who was very hard to understand, gave me the “I put in new codes don’t use your on demand for 30 minutes” speech. An hour later, it still doesn’t work.

Second call to Sean placed and he is resetting the box to factory settings – now I am 45 minutes without my tv at all. Comcast if you’re reading this, feel deep shame as you type me some bullshit tweet or message about wanting to help. You don’t know the meaning of the word.

Postscript to my Postscript
It is March 20th. My Comcast nightmare began on March 10th. I have been on the phone with them every day – sometimes more than once – for 10 days. They have missed 2 appointments, and wasted roughly 8 hours of my time, not to mention at least 3 hours of viewing time I’ve lost while I was stuck rebooting boxes.

I think it’s finally done though. I think I may not have to call them again. I don’t know if I can keep my sanity if I get another error message.

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