Sports and Weather

I understand why people don’t care about sports, I really do. There are lots of particular sports I don’t care much about myself. What I don’t get is this antipathy towards the things that others happen to enjoy. The Super Bowl, which had the highest ratings ever of any US TV show, apparently dethroning the M*A*S*H finale of 1983, is such an example. Don’t want to watch it? Fine. But there’s no reason to suck the joy out of other people’s pleasure.

I was rooting for the New Orleans Saints, and even predicted that they’d win. Some are puzzled about how important the Saints’ victory would be for the city of New Orleans. One pundit sniffed that if the victory would help New Orleans get over Hurricane Katrina, wouldn’t a Jets victory have done the same for New York City after 9/11? Well, no.

Anyone watching the aftermath of the August 2005 devastation will recall that the Superdome, home of the Saints, was at the epicenter of the disaster. Thousands of people lived there for days. The roof collapsed. The team ended up playing its home games elsewhere for a time, including San Antonio, Texas. The refurbishing of the Superdome and the win by the Saints, who had never even GOTTEN to a Super Bowl, let alone won one, was a fitting climax for both the team and the city that embraced each other in a most profound manner.

Of course, the real reason for watching the Super Bowl: the commercials, which you can see here or here. My favorite was the Betty White/Abe Vigoda Snickers commercial. While Betty White has been a regular working actress (the movie The Proposal and the TV show Boston Legal, e.g.), now at the age of 88, there’s been a running gag whether Abe Vigoda, a star on Barney Miller, was even still alive. I also liked the Dave Letterman ad; yes, late night TV rivals Letterman and Jay Leno were actually in the same room at the same time; see this. I liked the Simpsons ad for Coca-Cola; reminds me of an ad with MC Hammer losing all his bling AND the ad with Mean Joe Greene being offered a Coke. I enjoyed the Google ad. I’ve long admitted my thing about chickens, so a couple of Denny’s ads – for a promotion that’s now over – stick in my head.

Whereas I’ve long tired of the E*Trade babies. Even the sweet Clydesdale commercial for Budweiser has become predictable. I can’t imagine wanting to see ANY of the movies advertised. The commercials Casual Friday and I Wear No Pants were so close to each other, I thought they were for the same product; they weren’t. The Tim Tebow ad, with his mother, the reportedly anti-abortion message from Focus on the Family, was mostly, “Is that all there is?” And, most unfortunately, I thought the Census ad was an ineffective use of taxpayer money.

As for the music, Queen Latifah’s America the Beautiful was a bit wobbly and flat in the beginning, but Carrie Underwood’s a capella rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was OK, but the last note was painful. I love the band, The Who’s halftime show seemed off. The harmonies didn’t work, and the medley segues were clunky. But the drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son) was energetic, and they finished strong with Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Meanwhile, it’s been cold in Albany, but all the snow that has been hitting the Delmarva peninsula, Philadelphia (32.3 inches in 2010) and up the coast, repeatedly this winter, has so far missed Albany. Likewise, whatever snow off the Great Lakes may have affected Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, but Albany has been so far immune. Baltimore has been hammered; 41 inches this calendar year through February 8, more than Buffalo (36.1). All my NYC friends have made snarky remarks about Albany winters, but Albany has had only 8.3 inches of snow since January 1, the most 2.4 inches on January 3.

ANOTHER storm’s coming up the coast yesterday and today. Again the mid-Atlantic will get pummeled. What Albany gets will depend on the track of the storm, from an inch or two to six or eight. And it’ll still pale in comparison with what NYC’s going to suffer today; expect massive airline delays and cancellations.

The Lydster, Part 58: American Idol

For the record, Lydia’s first pop concert was Saturday, December 27, 2008 at 3 p.m., featuring American Idol season 6 finalists Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh, and Brandon Rogers, at the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY.

I should note that neither of us had ever seen one minute of season 6 of American Idol, thought I had seen parts of the first five seasons. I think the victory of Taylor Hicks, plus the general meanness factor of the show just turned both my wife (the initial cheerleader for watching Idol) and me off.

Thus, I had no real idea about any of these guys. First up was brief plugs by the sponsors of the show, people apparently not used to being on stage or using a microphone.

Next, Brandon Rogers. I expect the order of their appearance was in reverse order of their results on Idol and I was right. Rogers, who noted that his step-grandmother was from Schenectady, was the first of the Final 12 to be eliminated. He was personable and talented. (In fact, Sligh later said he was surprised how early he had left the competition.) The best performance he played on keyboards about the pain of his injury after Idol and being unable to participate in the post-Idol rush. He also did two breakup pieces. Mostly he sang to a backing track. Altogether he performed seven songs, five of them originals, plus Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. All but the last song, a cover about New Years Eve, were sung well; the final tune was a little, er, pitchy.

Lydia approved. She was dancing around wildly on the uptempo sounds, running up the aisle in front of me and down the one behind me with excitement. We sat far enough back that it should not have impinged on the enjoyment of others.

Chris Sligh, eliminated in the third week of the finals, did only four songs, three on guitar, and the middle of those a silly little ditty about rock stars needing money, after which he plugged his album for sale in the back. He was introduced verbatim from the flier with “it takes a lot to stand out from the cookie-cutter crowd”. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a sense of that from the short set, which ended with him on the keyboards singing a song to his wife of nearly six years, and emphasizing that at nearly 31, he still feels like a kid.

Lydia enjoyed him well enough, especially the silly song.

So BOTH of these guys fell before the infamous Sanjaya Malakar? Interesting. One didn’t need to actually watch Idol to know about Sanjaya.

Finally, there was Blake Lewis, the runner-up to Jordin Sparks. Evidently, he was used to working with cordless equipment because he was having all sorts of difficulties getting set up from song to song. Actually, the first piece wasn’t a song at all, but him playing around on his famous (or infamous) beatbox. It was interesting, for a while, but both Lydia and I got bored. During his second real song, U2’s With or Without You, he layered a bunch of vocals on the system; unfortunately, one or two of them were just a tad flat, so mixing them in a chord made for me an unpleasant experience. Meanwhile, Lydia made the final decision to go, because it was TOO LOUD.

So, in review, Lydia liked it less and less as it went along. Actually, I concurred with her.


"Great" Television

Today, the fall television season really begins. Oh, a couple shows debuted last week, but most of the ones I’ll be watching are still forthcoming. So, Time magazine had their list of Top 100 shows. Really? We’ll see about that. Thanks to Tosy and Mary; this was also tackled by Jaquandor.

Watched religiously the first season. First 13 shows created as great arc, then it floundered. First episode of the second season really turned me off, but I followed it sporadically. Now, I just read about it, rather than watching it, though I did see part of the great 5th season finale. I discovered recently that the very first monthly post about Lydia, back on May 26, 2005, was about not watching 24.

60 Minutes
Have watched religiously for most of its nearly 40 years(!) Now always recorded, and always have to “tape” the show after it in the fall when CBS has a “4 pm” NFL game, which never starts at 4, and certainly never ends at 7; I also have to be aware of the US Open tennis, or the Masters golf tournament for similar reasons. I don’t know why I seldom watched 60 Minutes II, which got folded into the mothership a couple years ago.

The Abbott and Costello Show
Saw occasionally in reruns as a kid; would probably appreciate more now.

ABC’s Wide World of Sports
Used to watch in its early years.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
This was in reruns when I saw it, but Hitch, even more than the stories, scared me to death.

All in the Family
A great show, though it went downhill when the Stivic kid was born, and became largely irrelevant after Mike and Gloria moved to California.
Favorite moment: Archie begin kissed by Sammy Davis, Jr.

An American Family
Watched it at the time – devastating. Wonder how it’d play now.

American Idol
Season 1: saw last 4 weeks.
Season 2: saw whole season.
Season 3: saw whole season.
Season 4: watched after they got to the final 12.
I’ve given it up. What season are they on now, anyway? The “bad” auditions are unwatchable, because, of the thousands of people who try out, only a relative handful are chosen by the screeners, I think, to humiliate; it’s so manipulated. Even if I go back to watching the talent portion some day, I’ll pass on the early weeks.

Arrested Development
I tried to watch the first season, which people swore by, couldn’t get into it. I tried again for the second season and it clicked. I watched it to the end; maybe I should try the first season DVD.

Battlestar Galactica
I assume this is the current series; have never seen.

The Beavis and Butt-Head Show
I tried to watch, failed.

The Bob Newhart Show
I was going to say the best scene was the end, but then I realized it was from Newhart’s NEXT show.

Brideshead Revisited
Tried to watch, failed.

Buffalo Bill
As I recall, loved.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Watched very rarely; saw some of the special episodes. Seemed pretty good.

The Carol Burnett Show
Favorite scene: Gone with the Wind curtain dress.

The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite
I tended to watch Huntley-Brinkley a bit more, but when they split in 1970, it was Uncle Walter until he retired nearly a decade later.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Yeah, though I’d argue with it even being on the list, I do watch it.

This show not only survived the loss of one of its early stars (Coach), but thrived. I watched a little less when Rebecca replaced Diane and Robin Colcord was around, but yes, a classic.
Favorite moment: Sam is despairing that everything he does, he does to please the ladies. Then he’s reminded that he likes the Three Stooges, even though “women hate the Stooges.” He does that for himself; he’s NOT shallow!

The Cosby Show
Tosy said: “Funnier in the early seasons than you may remember.” About right.
Favorite moment: Rudy lipscynching to a Ray Charles song.

The Daily Show
I like it when I watch it, but I seldom watch it.

I saw two episodes: “Who Shot J.R.” and the resolution, for which I correctly picked the shooter. That was enough.

The Day After
Recall that it was powerful in 1983, or whenever; haven’t seen since.

On pay cable. Have never seen.

The Dick Van Dyke Show
Classic. Quite possibly my favorite television show.
Favorite moment: Rob’s convinced he and Laura got the wrong child at the hospital.

Really? I’ve seen at least two iterations of this. The early version was bland, the second, with Harry Morgan, was so corny, it was schtick.

The Ed Sullivan Show
Sure. Saw that Italian mouse WAY too often, though.

The Ernie Kovacs Show
Saw an episode or two as a kid; guess you would have had to have been there.

Saw a handful of episodes, pre-haircut, not enough to remember.

Freaks and Geeks
Found this show a quarter of the way through and became a religious convert. I’m not one to say a show went on for too short a time – to everything, there is a season, and all that – but if I were to pick one show that suffered a premature death, it’d be My So-Called Life. Or maybe this.

The French Chef
The Ackroyd parody worked because it was so spot-on. It’d be on at 2 pm on Saturday afternoons, and I found it surreal.

Watched it for some seasons, gave up on it for a season, get sucked back in, get turned off. I was there at the end.

General Hospital
Never seen.

The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
I saw this in reruns as a kid. Actually, as I recall, quite funny, in a corny way.

Gilmore Girls
Loved the core relationship: Rory-Lorelai-Emily. Loved the townspeople. especially loved Mrs. Kim, when she developed as a character. Sure, the show would get off track – Rory’s refrain with Dean, e.g. I never believed. But I watched all seven seasons, and we even have Season 1 on DVD, albeit unwatched. The subject of one of my earliest posts, and undoubtedly others.

This show was on 20 years, and I probably saw half of them, from Dennis Weaver’s Chester, to Burt Reynolds’ Quint to Ken Curtis’ Festus. Doc was always the same. Matt Dillon (James Arness, the brother of Peter Graves from Mission: Impossible) was larger than life. And what WAS his relationship with Miss Kitty? This was better than Bonanza, that’s for certain.

Hill Street Blues
Probably lost it a bit near the end, but out of the gate, a great show.
Favorite moment: the off-screen death of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus.

Homicide: Life on the Street
Great show. Occasionally tough to take, such as the Vincent D’Onofrio episode.

The Honeymooners
I recognize its greatness, yet don’t particularly appreciate it.

I, Claudius
Tried; failed.

I Love Lucy
I’ve seen any number of episodes. (Tosy, this has been in reruns for 50 YEARS and you haven’t seen it?) It’s of its time, so some of it is still hysterically funny, while other bits are dated. But Lucy WAS a great physical actor.

King of the Hill
Tosy: “I like King of the Hill and yet never, ever watch it (seriously, I think I’ve seen maybe five episodes). Not sure why that is.” I’ve seen more like 20 episodes, but, no I don’t watch it, yet I’ve appreciated what I’ve seen.

The Larry Sanders Show
When I had HBO, I watched it and liked it, then I didn’t, and I didn’t, except for the last episode, which I saw on rerun the night before I was to tape my JEOPARDY! episodes.

Late Night with David Letterman (NBC)
VERY occasional. Don’t record it, don’t stay up for it. (Though I did see the episode with Oprah, after his surgery, after 9/11…)

Leave It to Beaver
Watched in reruns as a kid. Never engaged me.

Have never seen, except bits and pieces. Yet follow avidly the storyline in TV Guide, etc.

Married… With Children
I watched one episode, hated it, never saw it again.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Thought it was very funny, yet wonder if it would age well.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Classic, from “I hate spunk” to the group retrieval of the Kleenex box.

A great show for six or seven years. Should have ended with Radar going home, early in season 8 (I think).
Favorite episode, rerun recently: a documentary being filmed.

The Monkees
Watched, liked well enough, didn’t love.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Watched occasionally. When it comes to comedy, I may be a Britophobe.

The arc of this show has been well-documented; early was great, later was awful. I went to Jump the Shark and fully 2/3s of the voters picked when David and Maddie “did it” that did in the show.

MTV 1981-1992
Eh, this isn’t a “show”. Yeah, I watched videos a lot for much of that time.

My So-Called Life
Sob. I really liked this show, and it really felt like it was really finding its voice when it was cut off.

Mystery Science Theater 3000
Did people actually WATCH this? I’d flip through the channels, hit upon this for three minutes, laugh (or more often, not), and move on.

The Odd Couple
Favorite episode: Password.

The Office [American]
Watch religiously. How has Michael not been fired, I’ll never know.

The Office [British]
Haven’t seen; I will, I will. I do recall, though, that there was a lot of badmouthing of the U.S. series before it even aired, which have largely gone away.

The Oprah Winfrey Show
I saw Oprah when she had Paul McCartney on, or when the Little Rock black kids who integrated the schools in 1957 and the white kids who taunted them reconciled. That is to say, rarely.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse
Watched this. It was weird. Sorta liked it.

Playhouse 90
I probably saw this as a wee kid, but don’t remember.

The Price Is Right
There was probably a year or two in college when I watched it more than I should have.

Prime Suspect
Saw at least a couple full seasons of this, but not lately. It was excellent.

The Prisoner
Watched religiously. Gordon, are you familiar with this show?

The Real World
Watched maybe three seasons of, I’m afraid to say, before I bailed. Season 3 was he infamous Pedro vs. Puck, with Judd referring.

Rocky and His Friends
Well, yeah! Mr. Peabody,and Sherman, and Fractured Fairy Tales.

Watched all eight episodes. Appointment TV, good, though occasionally tough to take.

Watched it early on, but it lost me somewhere along the way.

Sanford and Son
I watched it, but I was never sure why.

Saturday Night Live
I happen to think that Phil Hartman was the greatest performer ever on the show, and I was watching it from the beginning. Watch it far less now.

Second City Television
Saw it often after SNL. I liked the characters and actors more than the actual skits ofttimes.

See It Now
Saw, mostly in clips in TV obits.

Watched for a few years regularly, always recorded -Thursday night is choir night. Pretty much gave up on it after Susan (George’s finacee) died, though I’d catch a show here and there. Saw the last few episodes; was not impressed.

Sesame Street
I was in high school when this started. I watched this almost religiously for a couple years while I was in college, along with Electric Company and Zoom.
In fact, I have the 10th Anniversary Album, complete with “12 autographed photos suitable for framing”, which I bought only because an earlier album went in the great Album Theft of 1972. Both albums had my theme song. Unfortunately, the early album had, and the latter doesn’t have:

Sex and the City
Never saw it on HBO, only on the TNT version. Occasionally too precious, but I got enough enjoyment out of it.

The Shield
Watched big chunks of this the first and second seasons, not so much now. It was great show.

The Simpsons
Watched religious for nine years, off and on for the next nine.

The Singing Detective
Never saw.

Six Feet Under
Never saw. Based on the cast, probably would have liked.

I was watching the Tonys recently – yes, I know they aired in June – and Jay Johnson, who was on Soap, won a Tony for The Two and Only. A surreal series where Billy Crystal was actually funny. Lost its way at the end, certainly after the character of Benson left, but had a couple good years.

The Sopranos
Never seen, unless you count the last three minutes that I saw on YouTube.

South Park
I watched it three or four times, wanting to like it, but never really did.

SpongeBob SquarePants
Don’t know why I don’t watch; I like it on the rare times I see it.

I could watch SportsCenter at least daily, preferably on tape immediately after it ends, so I can miss the lengthy teases and especially dopey segments such as “Who Is More Now?” – who commands the bigger buzz. But I don’t, though I’ve been known to watch a half hour early Monday morning.

Star Trek
My father loved this show. I didn’t get it until I started watching it in reruns.

St. Elsewhere
At least at the time I was watching it, my favorite dramatic television show. Have the first season DVD, of which I’ve seen two episodes that still look good. People are always surprised when I tell them Denzel Washington was on the show for its entire six-year run. One of the great series enders.

The Super Bowl (and the Ads)
Another odd choice – I’ve seen at least XXXVII of them.

Watched the first season, which I rather liked. Saw the second season, which bored me. Saw part of the third season, gave up. May have seen the first and/or last episodes of a couple other seasons, but it’s off my radar.

Classic. Particularly loved the Reverend Jim.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Saw now and then. Did see the last two episodes.

The Twilight Zone
I’m from Binghamton. I’ve met Rod Serling. I’m constitutionally required to not only watch Twilight Zone, but to like it.

Twin Peaks
I started watching it, but it got too weird.

The West Wing
I watched first three or four seasons, then lost interest. But did watch the last season, which was a suitable ending.

What’s My Line?
Watched it a lot given the fact that I think it was on 10:30 on Sunday nights, as I recall. It was a great game show in its simplicity, so much so that a live version, not on TV, exists.

WKRP in Cincinnati
“Oh, the humanity!”

The Wire
HBO show. Never seen.

Did see at least some of it. Very good show, as I recall.

The X-Files
Saw maybe a half dozen episodes, which I liked and didn’t in equal number.

Your Show of Shows
Even I’m not that old.
Alice Ghostley and Marcel Marceau both died recently. From her Internet Movie database page, I realize that I’d seen Ms. Ghostley in a LOT of stuff, not just Bewitched, Designing Women and Evening Shade, probably from at least one episode of half the television shows listed. Mr. Marceau I saw mostly in TV variety shows such as Ed Sullivan; sure, he was the “greatest mime ever”, but name two others.


Media Overkill (hubris)

Gee, it’s STILL bugging me, this “Runaway Bride” thing.

It’s not that I care why Jennifer what’s-her-name ran away, whether her fiancé still loves her, or whether they’ll marry (but apparently People magazine thinks their readers will, based on last week’s cover story).

I DO care that the media attention has been so wacky, in the Jacko/Scott& Laci tradition. Some of the so-called news networks, including the one apparently named after a canine, were practically convicting the fiancé of murder for his delay in taking a polygraph before she turned up. Jon Stewart skewered them on the Daily Show last week.

(And I DO care that she unfortunately found it necessary to pick a Hispanic man, along with a white woman as her assailant. Reminds me, just a bit, of Susan Smith or Chuck Stuart.
The ease of the accusation – “it was one of THEM” – is a bit frightening.)

(My wife gave me some good advice the other day: if I ever want to go through an airport inconspicuously, I shouldn’t wear an orange towel on my head. I’ll keep that in mind.)

And still on the subject of news: OK, I’ve watched American Idol from time to time. But the reason I watched the “ABC Prime Time exclusive” on former contestant Corey Clark outing Paula Abdul as his lover last Wednesday was to figure out the newsworthy rationale for running the program. After viewing the whole hour, I still don’t know. Clark also appeared on Good Morning America that morning AND the next morning, which I thankfully missed. With Peter Jennings fighting cancer, perhaps the network has taken leave of its journalistic senses. But I did enjoy Kelly Ripa ripping into Clark on her show (with Reege) the next morning.

Oh, and I STILL don’t know why Paris @#$%^&*! Hilton is famous.

I’ve ranted. I feel better now. Thanks.

I’m listening to the newly re-formed (or reformed) Cream. They sound great.

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