August Ramblin’

Tuesday night, I couldn’t sleep, so I got up to use the computer. I was startled by my wife entering the room – the fan drowned out any noise she made – and we decided to go downstairs to watch the NBC show The Office. We got through the March 19 episode where [SPOILER WARNING] Michael Scott quits Dunder Mifflin [end of warning]. This got me thinking about spoilers. There was a review of some sci-fi TV show, now on DVD, and the reviewer mentioned a significant character development. A commenter complained that he hadn’t seen the season yet, as he was waiting to watch it all on the DVD; the reviewer apologized. So what IS the rule for spoilers these days for a TV show or movie? Is it three months after the DVD comes out? What if the DVD NEVER comes out?

We’re now down to the last series we watch together. First we saw Scrubs, because we had all the episodes recorded. Then we got through 30 Rock; saw the season finale just last week, then a couple December shows in rerun that we’d missed when the DVR got fried in a late autumn lightning storm. I know what happens on The Office – chances are I read it in someone’s blog – but I have no expectation that the plot points remain a secret, though, in fact, my wife does not know, so DON’T TELL HER.

Since JEOPARDY! is in reruns, I’d decided to tape the Regis Who Wants to Be a Millionaire primetime episodes. A much better game with the 15-, 30- and 45-second clock. Of course, I saw the Patricia Heaton math meltdown; she really psyched herself out that she couldn’t get the answer to this question: “If a Euro is worth $1.50, five Euros is worth what?” Her choices are A.) 30 quarters, B.) 50 dimes, C.) 70 nickels, and D.) 90 pennies.
I’m reading the New Yorker for August 7 online this week, when I come across this: It’s big news in France and Germany that Willy DeVille, a founder of the band Mink DeVille, died yesterday in New York. The death of the director, producer, and screenwriter John Hughes is unmentioned in the major newspapers there. Nothing travels worse than the local rites of adolescence.
I totally missed that story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the band, but I do own some Mink DeVille on vinyl.
Yesterday, someone in my office was talking about the “famous” Doobie Brothers episodes of the show What’s Happening; I had no idea what he was talking about. But it was easy to find clips here and here and even each of the whole episodes on Hulu here and here. I DID see the series from time to time, but it was not appointment television for me.

Someone commented on why the show didn’t pick a black artist instead. I was instantly reminded of a 1977 Warner Brothers Loss Leader called Cook Book, “focusing on Warner’s black acts.” The only predominantly white act on the record was the Doobie Brothers. The song on the album was the same as the song on the What’s Happening episode of the same time frame, “Takin’ It to the Streets.” The Michael McDonald version of the group must have had some cred.
From the July 7, 2009 Fortune magazine comes this review of the book Cooperstown Confidential, by Zev Chafets. It addreses the inconsistencies in the process of getting into the Hall of Fame. Reviewer Daniel Okrent writes:
Sure, numbers count — RBIs, ERAs, etc. — but Chafets demonstrates that cronyism, prejudice, and financial self-interest play a huge part as well.

He addresses a variety of factors that have influenced the people who make (and unmake and remake and unremake) the rules. In 2009, in the looming shadows cast by Clemens and Bonds, the rule that matters most is No. 5, the one about character. It’s been used to keep out witnesses to gambling (Joe Jackson) and gamblers themselves (Pete Rose) but has somehow not been applied to cheaters (Gaylord Perry), racists (Cap Anson), sociopaths (Lefty Grove), and cheating racist sociopaths (Ty Cobb). Nor to a quantity of drunks, drug users, and other lowlifes that could fill the reservation book at Hazelden.

About those druggies: Most people who follow baseball closely suspect that a large share of Hall members from the ’70s and ’80s got their games up with the help of amphetamines. But Chafets has turned up evidence that steroids go back as far as the 1950s.

I guess it solidified my sense that the hysteria over the latest revelation from the (supposedly secret) list of 2003 users of substances that would become banned in 2004 just doesn’t disturb me as much as it does others.
And now, a message from movie maker Tyler Perry:
I’m back from Vegas and had a great time at the Hoodies, but I gotta give a quick WARNING to all my Facebookers, Twitters and TylerPerry board members: I’m so pissed right now!

I’m sitting in my den writing, minding my own business, when I get an email from my staff saying that someone put an ad up on Craigslist saying that I was casting a movie in L.A., and in order to be considered for this (FAKE) Tyler Perry movie, you have to join their club for $29.95. THAT IS A LIE, don’t fall for it. These folks are trying to rip you off. I hate for people to prey on people’s dreams and hopes. Why don’t people get a job and stop trying to steal folks’ hard-earned money….Ugh, that makes me mad; let me breathe.

Okay listen my dear folks, if anyone asks you to pay in order to do an audition or pay a fee to join a club to put you in a movie, please don’t fall for it. That’s not how it works in this business. It’s free to audition for any film. I’m calling my lawyers about these THIEVES! You’re my best help here, so please do me a favor and send this out to all your followers and friends.





If it’s true that “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist”, as the Avenue Q song suggests, nothing lately has brought that home more for me than the movie Crash, the first flick Carol & I have seen in months. We both thought it was excellent, and we have been playing back scenes and bits of dialogue all week. In addition to race and ethnicity, it’s also about class, power and crime. I wasn’t at all bothered by the coincidences; I thought it was the conceit of the film. It was less violent than I feared, given its R rating, which was due largely to language, I’m guessing.

Coincidentally, I got an e-mail this week from the Tyler Perry fan club also touting the film. Don’t know Tyler Perry? How about the character Madea in Diary of a Mad Black Woman? He says that “CRASH is on a whole other level and will move you in ways which everyone should experience.”  

The real cool thing is that Carol & I used a babysitter for the first time in I don’t know how long. Oh, we’ve had people over, but we’ve (or at least Carol has) been there at home with them. But Lydia took to Anna really well. When we left, Lydia didn’t cry; heck, she didn’t even seem to care that we were leaving. And when Anna left, she stood at the door, watching her leave like she does for her mother when I’m home with her. So, perhaps we’ll have more films in our near future.

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