Then there’s the special cases of themes that are best known for whistling or finger snapping.

Ken Levine was ranting about the loss of the television theme song, about which I tend to agree. It so happened that as I was reading his piece, I was in the midst of listening to one of seven or eight CDs I have of TV theme songs. I was at work, so I didn’t have time to look to see what songs were playing. A number of songs I liked but couldn’t place.

This brings me to these questions, in honor of the Emmys this week:

1. What are your favorite TV theme songs?

I’m partial to the work of Mike Post and the late Earle Hagen.

2. What do you think are the most recognizable? I’m thinking that you could be listening to a bunch of soundtrack songs and instantly recognize the tune out of context. Perhaps one has to separate the instrumentals from the songs with lyrics. I think there have been some great, distinctive themes for shows that were once popular but aren’t seen that often anymore, as far as I know, such as Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Taxi, and Barney Miller. Other shows seem to be in reruns forever. My guess, in more or less reverse order:

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – perhaps beginning to fade from memory, but those infomercials for the best of Carson are around. And it was on for 30 years.
Sanford & Son – that great Quincy Jones tune
Peter Gunn – was a big pop hit, and was covered by the Blues Brothers
MAS*H – very popular show, still in reruns
Law & Order – a 20-year show, just off the air, its spinoffs still on the air using variations on the theme, and it’s constantly on reruns
Hawaii 5-0 – another pop hit that shows up at sporting events, and now is going to be remade for a new series in the 2010 TV season on CBS

The ones with words are tougher, but I imagine Friends, Cheers, Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Jeffersons and The Brady Bunch would be among them.

Then there are the special cases of themes that are best known for whistling (The Andy Griffith Show (here’s The Andy Griffith Show, really) or finger-snapping (The Addams Family).

What are your favorites, and which ones were most distinctive?
Paste magazine’s 20 Best TV Theme Songs of All Time.



You need a critical mass, patience, and, ideally, an alternative to achieve success in a boycott.

Arthur at AmeriNZ wrote about a possible boycott of the store Target, and the reasons why. (Has anyone written the obvious headline, “Target target of boycott?” Subsequently, sent out this e-mail:

Target, the retail giant, just became one of the very first companies to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate cash in elections.

Target has spent over $150,000 in the Minnesota Governor’s race backing state Rep. Tom Emmer, a far-right Republican who supports Arizona’s draconian immigration law, wants to abolish the minimum wage and even gave money to a fringe group that condoned the execution of gay people.

Target must think customers won’t care. They’re wrong: We do care, and we need to let them know that we want Target—and all corporations—out of our elections.

Will you send a message to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel telling him that you’re not going to shop at Target unless they stop trying to buy elections? Click here to add your name to the petition.

A lively discussion ensued at Arthur’s blog about the fact that Target has been a gay-friendly place to work, whether boycotts work or are tilting at windmills, and even if you wanted to boycott, say Target, does this mean you end up shopping at, say, Wal-Mart, who have policies others oppose?

  1. Thoughts on the specifics of the Target boycott. At present, I’m inclined to sign a petition, but not yet to boycott.
  2. Have you ever boycotted a product or service? I have, everything from Twinkies (ITT) to lettuce and orange juice. Actually, I’ve also boycotted Wisk detergent because I found their “ring around the collar” commercials so offensive. (But now, my wife buys Tide anyway, so while my technical boycott still exists, for her it’s just product preference.)

  3. Do boycotts ever work? Certainly, the Montgomery bus boycott did in the 1950s. Eventually, the Florida “sunshine tree” growers dumped Anita Bryant as their spokesperson. To some degree, the one against Nestle over baby formula was successful. I’ll contend the boycott against South Africa ultimately helped to end apartheid.

You need a critical mass, patience, and, ideally, an alternative to achieve success. The conversation about Target is that it may be Target, Wal-Mart, and not much else in many small towns.

Please add your collective wisdom.

The Lawn Mower QUESTION

I returned the lawn mower. You have no idea how rare that is for me to return items to a store.

I received a postcard recently telling me that I may be entitled to a $35 rebate if:
1. You purchased a lawn mower, for your own use, containing an engine with up to 30 horsepower in the United States or Puerto Rico and between January 1, 1994 and April 12, 2010.
2. Either the lawn mower or the engine of the lawn mower was manufactured or sold by a Company listed below.
3. You submit a claim.

It’s some class action lawsuit that “does not concern the safety of these lawn mowers.”

I did, in fact, purchase a lawn mower. It was 2002, give or take a year, after we moved here in 2000 and before the daughter was born in 2004. Not only did I have to mow our lawn, but the lawn of the rental property six blocks away. It was difficult to keep up with both lawns with a reel mower, which is what you call those old-fashioned machines that require only human power, not gasoline or electricity. The new machine was purchased from one of the companies listed on the website. To have a good start, you could just leave the job to the experts at King Green to take care of your lawn.

It was gas-powered, which troubled me from an environment POV, but the grass was getting long at the rental property. After mowing our lawn, which went reasonably well, I took it to the rental property, where it quickly became jammed. I unjammed it, and used it again when the grass was shorter, but I had the same problem.

So I returned it. You have no idea how rare that is. I HATE returning stuff; it’s just a hassle. But this was also a couple hundred bucks. The salesman did those things that were supposed to make me feel like scum – more attitude than actual words – but I was not to be talked out of it.

When the postcard came in the mail, the Wife said, “Should I just toss it?” After all, I had the machine for less than two weeks. I think not; let me mull it over. Am I even eligible? It requires having the serial number of the machine, which suggests current ownership. I am pretty sure that we probably DO have the serial number somewhere.

Now I’m not going to file; it seems unethical. But it was VERY tempting.

The QUESTION: Do you ever have such ethical dilemmas? Are they worse when they involve impersonal entities? Bad service?

Get a free sticker, or buy a few.

You just can’t have too many computers

I had the idea for my presentation for the Underground Railroad conference months earlier. But on long-term projects, I procrastinate. (Or, conversely, I do it right away, because I know I tend to procrastinate.)

So it’s the Monday before the Saturday of the conference. I’ve taken the day off from work. The plan: in the morning, finally watch Hurt Locker on DVD. In the afternoon, go to the library and work on the presentation. Neither of these things happen, though; the daughter is home sick for the 10th time this school year. and as usual, she’s not SO sick that she’s sleeping, but rather needs regular attention from daddy.

So it’s now the Thursday evening before the Saturday of the conference. I blow off Bible study and choir, stay at work until 8 pm and actually get the presentation into some sort of narrative shape. It’s not finished, but it’s quite far along.

So it’s now the day before the conference. I dig out the thumb drive I was given which I had never used, and copy the program. My intention is to finish it up at home on the wife’s laptop. Except the wife’s computer doesn’t seem to have a cursor anymore.

So now it’s the morning of the conference. I still cannot get the laptop to work. As for my desktop computer, not only is it slow, it is so old that it actually doesn’t have a compatible slot for the thumb drive. I’m thinking I may have to go to the downtown branch of the library; the local branch doesn’t open until 1 pm, and that’s too late.

Then I play with the daughter’s new Netbook that her aunt and uncle just gave her for Valentine’s Day. I can’t get the Internet to work on it, but the word processing is fine, and the presentation is finished Just In Time.

Eventually – I have no idea how – I’ve gotten the cursor to work again on the wife’s laptop. I mean I’m a Luddite, but not as bad as this guy, at least most of the time.

So here’s the question: do you consider yourself technologically savvy, or do you go around screaming when technology fails? I’m not a screamer, but…well, let’s put it this way: DON’T hire me for IT.


Privacy, identity

My daughter went to the pedetrician she’s seen since she was born last week for her annual physical. The ofice required proof of her insuance – it has not changed, but OK – and proof of identity for her or her parents.

This week, I went to see my primary care physician for MY annual physical doctor. I’ve had this doctor for over 15 years. The front staff know who I am. In fact, when he asked me for MY ID, the staffer said, almost giggling: “We KNOW who you are.” I also prsented my insurance card, though it hadn’t changed.

Now I understood it when I went to St. Peter’s to get X-rays; I’m not exactly a regular.
A bit off topic, but it did get me to think about issue privacy and personal information. The type of info I hate giving up is the type I believe will harm me. For instance, one of my providers STILL uses my Social Security number as my patient identification. This makes me VERY nervous. And isn’t that in violation of the HIPAA law?

Meanwhile, there are members of Congress complaining about the “invasive” Census. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that, with all the money being spent on it, they didn’t ask for more.

Newspapers, when I write a letter to the editor, require my name, address, and phone number. But if I write to their blogs, I can hide under a pseudonym and say pretty much what I want. The blogger can block it, but still the conversation is far more incidiary than the print letters. I’m not sure that folks online shouldn’t be subjected to the same rules of contact as their pen-and-paper cohorts.

The question: what issues of privacy do YOU worry about? Census, online transactions, the restaurant worker with your credit card ?

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