T is for Titans

Three actors were on NBC programs that started after their appearance in the movie.


Uncharacteristically, I was flipping through the TV channels recently. This is highly unusual, because generally, when I watch television, I go to a particular show, usually prerecorded. I came across this 2000 movie I saw in the theaters, Remember the Titans. Part of the IMBD synopsis:
“It’s 1971 in Alexandria, Virginia and successful high school football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) has just been deprived of the head coaching job at the new integrated T.C. Williams High School to make way for equally successful black coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington). Yoast debates pursuing opportunities elsewhere, but when most of his white players vow to sit out the season unless he coaches, he changes his mind and stays on as Boone’s assistant.”
The Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: “An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it’s also well-crafted and features terrific performances.”

Well, yes, predictable, including having the Big Game. I enjoyed it well enough, and it at least tried to tackle the issue of race.

Looking back at it, though, I noticed an interesting coincidence:

Donald Faison, who played football star Petey Jones, became Dr. Christopher Turk, best friend of quirky Dr. John Dorian on the TV comedy Scrubs (2001-2010), with seven years on NBC, and the final two on ABC. Turk and JD were probably the epitome of a word I’m not fond of, “bromance”.

Ethan Suplee, who played big-hearted lineman Louie Lastik, was the some-what simple-minded younger brother Randy Hickey to the title character on the comedy My Name Is Earl (2005-2009, NBC). Earl dragged Randy into his plans to fix the outcomes of some of their less-than-desirable activities after the elder brother discovered karma following a car accident.



Hayden Panettiere played Sheryl Yoast, daughter of Coach Yoast: “My daddy coached in Alexandria, he worked so hard my momma left him, but I stayed with coach, he needed me on that field.” She initially resents Coach Boone for supplanting her daddy, but:
Sheryl Yoast: Coach Boone, you did a good job up here. You ran a tough camp from what I can see.
Coach Boone: Well I’m very happy to have the approval of a 5-year-old.
Sheryl Yoast: I’m 9 and a half, thank you very much.
Coach Boone: Why don’t you get this little girl some pretty dolls or something, coach?
Coach Yoast: I’ve tried. She loves football.
After playing Ally McBeal’s daughter in that program’s last season (2002), Hayden played Claire “Save the cheerleader” Bennet on Heroes (NBC) from 2006 until its cancellation in 2010.

So all three actors were on NBC programs that started after their appearance in the movie but that are all now off the air.
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When the upstart American Football League (AFL) was formed in 1960 to challenge the long-established National Football League, the franchise in the US’s largest city was called the New York Titans. Major League Baseball’s National League experienced an expansion in 1962, and the city got the New York Mets. When the Titans were sold to new owners in 1964, the team changed its name to the New York Jets, to nominally link it to the popular, though inept, baseball franchise. The AFL merged with the NFL in 1966, though it wasn’t finalized until 1970. the Jets, of course, were the first AFL team to beat an established NFL in what became known as the Super Bowl, in January 1969. (The Mets would win the World Series later that same year.)

Another of the charter members of the AFL was the Houston Oilers, which relocated to the “state of Tennessee in 1997, first playing temporarily in Memphis for one season before moving to Nashville. For two seasons, the team was known as the Tennessee Oilers before changing its name to Titans in 1999.” So the Titans’ name lives again.


When I was collecting comics in the 1970s through the mid-1990s, I was pretty much a Marvel fan (Spider-Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four) rather than a DC fan (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman). I never read, never even sought out, the original Teen Titans, a book about the sidekicks of the established stars from back in the 1960s. But because of the creative team of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, I did collect the NEW Teen Titans, starting in 1980, even though Robin was the only character I knew, and it became one of the most popular titles of its time.

There was also a Teen Titans TV series in the first decade of the century. New episodes stopped in 2006, but they are rerun often; I watched a part of an episode just this week to get into the spirit of this post.

Here is an extensive team history of the Teen Titans.



Finally, there is Clash of the Titans, the cheesy 1981 film with Harry Hamlin, and the 2010 remake. But I’ve seen neither, so I thought I’d just do the photo comparison.


ABC Wednesday

30-Day Challenge: Day 2: Favorite Movie

I wish I could pull out a Marshall McLuhan to shut down an arrogantly wrong comment.

Considering all of the movies I’ve seen, all the GREAT movies I’ve ever seen, it is surprisingly easy for me to pick my favorite:

Annie Hall (1977).

It was my touchstone picture for a number of years. I saw it four times in the movie theater, and it was one of the first films I purchased on VHS.

It’s the roller coaster in Coney Island, which I loved as a child. It’s early Christopher Walken, bizarre as he would later become.

The opening of the film was more story, fewer jokes, my kind of humor. It reminded me of seeing Woody Allen on Ed Sullivan in the 1960s. The film also features Paul Simon, one of my music icons of that decade.

I related to Alvy Singer. Many is the time I wish I could pull out Marshall McLuhan or an equivalent person to shut down an arrogantly wrong comment. I have an aversion to driving. I hate going into a movie after it’s started. I came to believe that, “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

Annoyingly, I used to say “la-di-dah, la-di-dah, la-di-dah” a lot. Incidentally, Diane Keaton won an Oscar for this role, though I always thought it was REALLY for her acting in that same year in Waiting for Mister Goodbar.

But mostly, in Annie Hall, it’s the split screenshot of Annie and Alvy with their respective therapists:
Alvy’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Annie’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Alvy: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

It defined how two people can experience the exact same events, yet see them very differently. This is a useful lesson when dealing with most human interactions. For instance, a Protestant and a Catholic can both take communion; for the Protestant, it’s representational of the body and blood of Christ, while Catholics believe that transubstantiation takes place. still, it’s the same act, for presumably the same God, and the chasm that exists over this seems unnecessary.

Other contenders: Groundhog Day, West Side Story (not a great movie, but a great musical), Young Frankenstein.

Oh, and one other: Star Wars, with the retronym Episode 4: A New Hope (meh). The Empire Strikes Back may be the better picture, but this one started it all. Star Wars lost the Academy Award for Best Picture to…Annie Hall.

Two long-running television shows end Monday night.
24 (FOX) will be over after eight seasons, and I’ll be happy about that. I fear that people have confused the fiction of the former CTU operative with real life. the United States Attorney General just recently was compelled to say, “We’re not Jack Bauer.” The TV Guide article about the show’s ending asks cast members, “What’s your favorite scene?” I watched the first season, but as the writers/producers decided how much more Jack can take, and deliver, I bailed.

Law & Order is gone after 20 years, after NBC failed to get a cable company to purchase reruns of season 21. I must admit I pretty much stopped watching it when the late Jerry Orbach left about eight years ago, but I’ll watch one more “ripped from the headlines” vignette.

30-Day Challenge: Day 1 – Favorite Actor

Who would I pay to go to see in most anything they were in?


I took on this 30-day challenge because I thought it would be interesting. And, just as important, quick and easy. But I got stuck on the first question.

I assume “actor” is gender-neutral in this case.

Starting to parse the category, I began with theater actors. But I don’t really see stage actors that often, though in fact, this year’s Tony nominations feature a lot of familiar names from TV and movies.

Favorite television performer: I could pick actors I watched in more than one series: Bob Newhart (Bob Newhart Show, Newhart); James Garner (Maverick, The Rockford Files); Mary Tyler Moore (Dick van Dyke Show, MTM Show); Jimmy Smits (L.A. Law, NYPD Blue). There are others who qualify because of other functions, such as Alan Alda (writer/director). I might have to go with Betty White, game player extraordinaire, who’s been on TV longer than I’ve been alive, because not only did I record a new Saturday Night Live for the first time in forever, I might even check out her new series on TV Land called Hot in Cleveland.

Still, when I thought about it further, it was always the movies that defined the question in my mind, fairly or not. Which is to say: “Who would I pay to go to see in most anything they were in?” I recognized that the leading males in this category were Robert Redford, Paul Newman (a couple of times together), Dustin Hoffman, and Denzel Washington. It might be Philip Seymour Hoffman or Paul Giamatti down the line.

But there were two actresses for whom I saw a large majority of their films in a particular stretch.

One was Jane Fonda. I saw well over half of the movies she was in between 1969 (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) and 1985 (Agnes of God), even the truly dreadful Rollover (1981), filmed partly in Albany, NY.

The other is Meryl Streep, whose output between 1977 (Julia, starring Jane Fonda) and 2009 (the mediocre It’s Complicated) I’ve seen maybe 70% of.

Eventually, Laura Linney will likely be in this category.
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All pictures from LIFE magazine from the 1990s.

R is for Reboot

The revamping of this blog at the beginning of the month is NOT a reboot. It’s still the same person writing (me). It may be on WordPress rather than Blogger, but that’s like a show moving from one television network to another.


It must have been about 1996, give or take a year. I was working as a librarian, for the same company I work for now, but three locations ago, and I was having trouble with my computer. (Historical fact: I ALWAYS have trouble with my computers; when the IT people set a schedule for replacement, my difficulties almost always exceed their expectations. I like computers, but they don’t always like me.)

So I ask one of the techies if he could fix my computer, which had frozen up. He said, “Did you reboot it?”, and I said, “Huh?” Up until that very moment, I had never heard the term “reboot”. I thought he wanted me to kick it, and if necessary, kick it again, which I was willing to do, though I doubted its efficacy.

That was not what he meant; he meant for me to turn the computer off and then to restart it, thus reloading the operating system. Years of being trained by IT guys now informs me that I don’t even go see them until I can honestly say, “I rebooted it, and it still doesn’t work.” Later, I learned the sometimes magic of Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

Now the term reboot has evolved into another meaning: “A term that comes from computer usage. To reboot a computer is to start it up again after a computer crash. Hence, “reboot” has the connotation of starting a process over again.*

This take on “reboot” is particularly popular with popular culture, such as motion pictures and television shows. The 2009 Star Trek movie, going back to before Kirk, Spock et al were on the Enterprise is a popular example. The 2010 Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood has been called a reboot, though it’s been remade about 287 times. 2010’s Karate Kid, with Will Smith’s son Jaden as the Kid and Jackie Chan in the Pat Morita role is a recent example, as is the 2010 version of Nightmare on Elm Street, without Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. The 2010 fall TV schedule features Hawaii 5-0, a popular show over 30 years ago.

What is the difference between a remake and a reboot? I’m not quite sure.

I will opine that the revamping of this blog at the beginning of the month is NOT a reboot. It’s still the same person writing (me). It may be on WordPress rather than Blogger, but that’s like a show moving from one television network to another. I may now have my own URL, but doesn’t change much either.

In case you were wondering how this change came about:
Rose DesRochers, an “avid blogger, published poet and freelance writer” from Canada had a free blog hosting contest back in February. I wrote about it, and actually won six months of free service from VisionThisHosting.com. Shawn DesRochers, Rose’s husband, is the Web Hosting Administrator. I did nothing about it for a while, then probably made Shawn’s life miserable getting this site up.

Rose and Shawn have been going through some stuff recently, which I would not bring up except that Rose mentioned herself in her blog. Their 19-year-old daughter has just been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I’m sure affected not only Rose, but Shawn as well. Rose writes that, coincidentally, May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month.

So thanks, Rose, for the site. Shawn, thanks for your continued assistance. My good wishes to you both and for your daughter.
***
Oh, and happy birthday to my “baby” sister Marcia!


ABC Wednesday

* “reboot.” The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 16 May. 2010. .

VIDEO REVIEW: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


Here’s an interesting experiment; go with your spouse and child to an elementary school gym, along with four dozen other elementary school kids and their parents to see a 2-D version of a 3-D movie based on a 30-page book. That’s what we did a couple Friday nights ago as we viewed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

I had no preconceived notions about this film. I hadn’t read the book, first published in 1978, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. In fact I never even heard of it until the film was being promoted.

This iteration tells the story of Flint Lockwood, science nerd, whose mother (Lauren Graham) believes he’ll be someone special; she dies early on, and his monosyllabic, unibrow fisherman-father (James Caan) believes in more practical efforts, wanting his son (Bill Hader) to work at the sardine store with him. Everyone on the island of Swallow Falls eats sardines.

Flint is tortured by an annoying character, Baby Brent (Andy Samburg), who was famous as the Gerber baby, and keeps milking his fame. (Independently, my wife and I thought he was very much like the character in the Back to the Future movies who kept harassing Marty McFly’s father.)

Flint, undeterred from his dream, manages to invent a machine that converts water into food. Needing to hide his creativity from the local policeman (Mr. T), he accidentally launches it into the atmosphere. Instead of rain, food of every sort starts falling from the sky. This phenomenon inspires a television station to send a weather reporter trainee (Anna Faris) to cover the phenomenon.

I laughed out loud several times in the first half of the movie at lines that probably went right over the heads of the purported target audience. At least once, I swear I was the ONLY person laughing.

At some point, the movie becomes some illustrated cross between the movies Twister (which I saw) and 2012 (which I did not). This part was less interesting to me, though not without its charms, and frightened the daughter some to boot.

Still, I enjoyed the intelligently-made film overall, and it reviewed well enough. Within the film of writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were none-too-subtle digs at the food industry (processed foods with no connection to the source, a la Fast Food Nation), gluttony (see also: the latter part of WALL-E), environmental destruction, and sexism in the entertainment industry.

I finally got around to reading the book this week, and while there were nods to the source material (food as rafts, yellow Jell-O, and of course a spaghetti storm), the movie is a whole ‘nother animal altogether. Friends of friends of mine who are devotees of the book often HATE the movie because it’s not the book; I think the movie should be appreciated on the merits of what’s on the screen, NOT based on how it is or is not true to the source material.
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The movie trailer.

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