July Rambling #1: Even darkness must pass

Lin-Manuel Miranda and William Daniels Talk Hamilton and 1776

Sister Leslie is out of the hospital, as of ndependence Day. Still healing at home. More probably on July 23.

Flirting with Fascism

The Coming Collapse and Why It is Extraordinary

We Were Warned: What the Movie Villains Should Have Taught Us

As our democracy is dismantled right before their eyes, Americans remain silent

“America First” means China wins

During CBS interview, government agents chillingly showed up to intimidate former ICE spokesman

On July 4th Eve, Jeff Sessions Quietly Rescinds a Bunch of Protections for Minorities

If Pixar Made A DACA Movie

The retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is as bad as it seems and Anthony Kennedy, You Are a Total Disgrace to America

Larry Kudlow is Never Ever Right

If You Think Basic Income is ‘Free Money’ or Socialism, Think Again

Turks Have Voted Away Their Democracy

Trust Issues, examining the state of trust in 2018

Fatal accidents, off-the-books workers, a union once run by a mobster. The rogue world of one of New York’s major trash haulers

That Property Down In Coeymans: The City of Albany is still trying to get rid of the proposed site of Jerry’s Dump

Tim Berners-Lee has seen his creation debased by everything from fake news to mass surveillance. But he’s got a plan to fix it

Radical Democrats Are Pretty Reasonable

Israeli airline says it will no longer accommodate Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women

There’s some good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for

An Interview with Deborah Mends, UK College Diploma Graduate and Owner of Your Visual Mind – I first met my friend in the summer of 1977 in NYC

Atomic Roundtable: Harlan Ellison 1934-2018

Gene Editing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

How’s the Water?

Agent Zigzag

Geographical oddities

What to Do When an ATM Won’t Give You Any Money

The Counterfeit Queen of Soul

Lin-Manuel Miranda and William Daniels Talk Hamilton, 1776, Mr. Feeny, and More (2016)

Five Muppeteers explain how they operate their characters on Sesame Street


Now I Know: When the Jazz Didn’t Stop Playing and How To Fool the World Starting with Two All-Beef Patties and The Macroeconomic Madness Behind Extra Cheesy Pizza

Yes! The Wedding of Winnie & Thomas


I Don’t Know – Paul McCartney
Come On To Me – Paul McCartney

We Are the World video, re-created by a bunch of talented folks from Broadway

Rasta Children – Playing for Change

First Burn (Hamilton)

Smells Like Karen Carpenter – Moneyshot Cosmonauts

Beautiful Life – Rick Astley

Coverville 1223: Cover Stories for George Michael, Men At Work, and Cyndi Lauper

K-Chuck Radio: Gorillaz in our midst and It’s All About That Bass

Friends don’t let friends clap on the 1 and 3 (Harry Connick Jr)

Star Trek turns 50

Thanks to the VCR, I believe I missed but one episode.

startrekFrom all the news segments, I knew that Star Trek turns 50 today. Yet I was going to let the anniversary pass, even though I really liked the piece on CBS Sunday Morning, where, I discovered, reporter Faith Salie appeared on Deep Space Nine.

But what tipped the tide was turning on the TV on Labor Day, and there was someone who looked a whole lot like Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original Star Trek, on the CBS-TV soap opera The Young and The Restless, which, I assure you, I never watch. And it was!

My excitement, BTW, was only mildly tempered by the fact that The Wife has NO idea who Uhura was, let alone Nichols, who was one of the very few black actors on TV in 1966-1969 when the original series aired. But my late father, who watched that series in real time, even as I mostly ignored it, knew the significance of the actress and the character.

I didn’t watch Star Trek but I did watch Leonard Nimoy in his next TV series, replacing Martin Landau on Mission: Impossible. And oddly, I started watching the Star Trek cartoon series in the 1970s.

I saw the first five Star Trek movies. The first one bored me, but I liked the next three. The fourth film, The Voyage Home, I saw in a movie theater in Charlotte, NC with my mother in 1986. And though she had not seen the previous films, which made the narrative a bit confusing, she seemed to enjoy it. But after the terrible fifth film, I never saw another movie with that cast.

Speaking of the original cast, the late James Doohan, who played, Scotty, participated at FantaCon in Albany in 1983. I saw him only briefly, but the story goes that he was…less than an ideal guest. Also, having been to several conventions and worked at a comic book store, I will attest that Get A Life, that famous segment on Saturday Night Live, had a HUGE element of truth; Shatner talks about the experience.

Like most people, I only discovered the original Star Trek in reruns. But I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation religiously from the start. Thanks to the VCR, I believe I missed but one episode, and that in the first season. But I have never seen any of that cast’s films. Go figure.

I viewed Deep Space Nine (1993–99) and Voyager (1995–2001) fairly regularly, though Enterprise (2001–05) considerably less so.

But I was a devoted follower of the TV series The Practice, which, in its last season, was essentially an extended pilot for Boston Legal with Shatner as Denny Crane.

There was also this Shatner-hosted program, and I hope someone can identify it since it appears nowhere in his IMDB or Wikipedia pages. He interviews people involved in saving a little girl who fell down a well, or victims of a crime, or Mary Kay Letourneau with the much younger Vili Fualaau.

And while I’m on Shatner, it was through Coverville that I discovered Common People, the cover by William Shatner and Joe Jackson, which I have great affection for.

Patrick Stewart, Jean Luc Piccard in The Next Generation, I love in almost anything I see him in. I get oddly great pleasure seeing his great friendship with Ian McKellan.

I’ve already addressed George Takei recently. And I noted Leonard Nimoy’s passing last year.

The first Star Trek movie reboot I’ve seen on TV. CBS Interactive is showing a new iteration of Star Trek, Discovery in January 2017. I’ll probably not watch it until it’s on a more affordable platform.

But I realize that Star Trek, no matter how much or little one has seen the movies, TV series, bought the comics (I did) or the novelizations, or purchased accouterments (I did not), is in the cultural DNA. So I need to acknowledge the fact that Star Trek turns 50 with an appropriate response.

October Rambling

Stan Lee becomes a Jeopardy! category

A sure sign of madness: I’m now participating on the Times Union Getting There blog. Here’s my introductory piece, and you’ll find more along the way.

A Graveyard Of Commerce: Albany’s walled-off waterfront offers a boat launch, some casual tourism, and raw sewage

W. enters a local school board race – in Colorado

For mixed family, old racial tensions remain a part of life

The REAL Way to Get Wall Street’s Attention:

GO to OccupyWishList.org to provide some necessary supplies to various Occupy groups.

Bad Lip Reading – I enjoy this more in concept than in actuality

U.S. Skater Nailed First ‘Quadruple Lutz’. No, I don’t know what it is either, but my wife does.

25 Words You Might Not Know Are Trademarked -actually most of them I knew. But there were a few in comments that I did not.

A segment from Family Feud that came out eight months ago; never said I was ahead of the curve.

Ken Levine answers my question. He’s a TV writer of some note (Frasier, MASH).

And Then There’s………Maude.

The Dick Van Dyke Show Blogathon: In Praise Of Laura Petrie’s Capri Pants (or something like that); the article’s better than the title. And related to D.V.D., the Carl Reiner Tribute at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Obscure 1987 Sitcom Predicted Muammar Gaddafi’s Death Year.

A spider in the lampshade! And speaking of spiders, Spider-Man Swing dances, and Stan Lee becomes a Jeopardy! category.

From Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics: old Superman Syndicated Strips. Plus Spooky or Inexplicable Events – Directory Assistance. Quite moving.

Nursery Rhyme Comics: Great comic illustrators do Mother Goose

MAD guy Al Jaffee’s greatest fear

Paul McCartney Toasted John Lennon At His Wedding Reception

The Porkka Boys cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Folks from Finland are particularly fascinating to me. In any case, not a wretched excess version, such as William Shatner’s jaw-dropper.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced the appointment of Dr. Anne C. Beal, M.D., M.P.H., as its first chief operating officer. PCORI was created by Congress as an independent, non-profit research organization to help patients and those who care for them make informed health decisions. Anne, BTW, is my cousin.

An interview with singer, songwriter, poet and my e-friend, Amy Barlow Liberatore

Did you know of Frank Kameny, who died this month? You will after you read these pieces by Arthur at AmeriNZ and, and watching this piece from CBS News.

Patti Page recently rerecorded “Doggie in the Window” as “Doggie in the Shelter.”

Science fiction writer David Brin shared this fascinating blog post about the social and cultural meaning of Star Trek

Never say science fiction is just make-believe. We live it every day

(Thanks to JA Fludd for some of these)

Steve Bissette Tackles the Hate Movies

The late Gail Fisher, who is best know for playing Peggy Fair on the detective series Mannix, starred in The New Girl, and it also featured Edward Asner.

Not only is my good buddy Steve Bissette a great comic book artist, he is a cultural historian. First, he linked to a booklet created by Steve Canyon artist Milton Caniff on How to Spot Someone of Japanese Descent, but the terminology used was less appropriate.

Then he put together a series on posts on what he calls Hate Movies:

1. The horrific anti-Japanese propaganda “documentaries” during and after WW2, and well into the early 1960s

2. The 1960s exploitation movies that played upon racist fears of miscegenation, black-and-white sexual relations, and so on (from which I purloined the image to the left).
Discussion of movie titles such as I Passed for White and My Baby Is Black.

3. How to Deal with Racial Conflict Head-On & Fail at the Boxoffice, Whatever Your Race – the harder to summarize, confrontational race conflict dramas of the 1960s.
Features a six-minute clip of a pre-Star Trek William Shatner in the title role as The Intruder, plus a discussion of the film by Shatner and director Roger Corman. Also a discussion of actor Sidney Poitier and writer LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka.

3 APPENDIX. What Happened to The Intruder?
Mike Ripps’ versions of Bayou aka Poor White Trash (trailer) and Roger Corman’s The Intruder under the title Shame (the whole thing).

4. Turning Up the Heat: Bill, Juan, & Leroi, Then & Today Or, What Do You Call Angry Anti-Hate Hate Movies? Whatever You Call Them, Don’t Call Them Late for Supper!
LeRoi Jones’s Dutchman (1966), which will feature in the next eight segments. The Negro Handbook and the Negro Motorist Green Book; and is there anti-white xenophobia? Also featuring FOX News and the firing of Juan Williams from NPR.

The series was briefly interrupted as explained HERE.

5. Subversion on the Subway. LeRoi Jones/Amiri Imamu Baraka’s Dutchman and Jones’ wife Hettie Jones.

6. Lula’s Roots: Little Sisters, Passing Pinkies, Poor White Trash. Antecedents of Dutchman’s Lulu in such diverse fare as D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), Fritz Lang and Thea Von Harbou’s Metropolis (1927), Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949), Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959), Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), and Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night (1967).
I was most fascinated by “Lewis Freeman’s government-produced educational short film The New Girl (1959), produced for the President’s Committee on Government Contracts, created by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower in August, 1953 and …chaired by none other than Vice-President Richard M. Nixon.” The late Gail Fisher, who is best know for playing more-than-just-a-secretary Peggy Fair on the detective series Mannix, starred, and it also featured Edward Asner. Steve linked to it, but I thought I would as well:
PART 1 and PART 2.

7. On a Downtown Train…Cashing Out Clay. More on Dutchman, plus Amiri Imamu poetry.

8. From Lula to Lulu: Making Manhattan in London – Underground, Overseas. Dutchman and the Beatles films link; Black Like Me; To Sir With Love; and an episode of The Outer Limits.

9. Bring Out Your Dead…”The Jones Boys”: Carrying Clay. Clay, the black male character in Dutchman, as he relates to the music of Charles Mingus, and the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Fred Hampton.

10. Going Continental: Continental Divides. The distribution of Dutchman by Walter Reade/Sterling, which also was responsible for Lord of the Flies, Black Like Me, Ghidrah, Night of the Living Dead, Dr. Who and the Daleks, and Slaves.

11. Dutchman: Contemporaries, Ripples & Shockwaves. Masculin, Féminin; The Brig; Marat/Sade; very early Brian DePalma films such as Hi, Mom!; Be Black; and Paradise Now, which Steve rightly suggests is an antecedent to to the Broadway musical Hair.

12. Uncle Toms, Watermelon Men, Sweet Sweetback & Mandingos. “Being a potpourri of images, quotes, and links that relate to, summarize and/or surround the essay installments I’ve posted to date…” Including the “blaxplotation” films of the early 1970s, such as Watermelon Man (1970). the brutal Fight For Your Life (1977), and the pivotal Melvin van Peebles work, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971).

EPILOGUE: White Trash, Blaxploitation, Hate Movies & Continental Blues. Or; Final Look at What I Was Talking About All Month
A summary, but mentions a Leadbelly movie I need to know more about.

It’s fair to say that there is a LOT of material here, and the blogposts are a first draft of a project Steve is working on. As he then noted, the postings “prompted deeper research into some venues, and I’m expanding and considerably revising a print version of this essay for publication later this year in one of my collected editions of my fanzine/magazine/online writings on genre films.” Also, at the end of each segment, he writes, “Please note: I do not condone or share the views expressed in the archival images presented in this serialized essay at Myrant. I share them here for historical, educational, and entertainment purposes only.”

“Vast Wasteland” QUESTION

My niece will be on TV next week, on a show I would otherwise not watch.

There must be a law: for articles about television in non-entertainment publications, at least fifty percent must indicate that “All (or most) TV is crap” or some equivalent. And almost inevitably, it will 1) note that it was also called that a long time ago, but 2) fail to indicate just who said it. For the record, it was Newton Minnow, head of the FCC, in 1961, who called television a “vast wasteland.” It’s an interesting read.

I was just listening to Springsteen’s 57 Channels and Nothing On. But even in the vast wasteland of summer programming, I did watch a couple of things:

The Closer – liberated somewhat from the formula of the first two seasons, it’s been infused by the fact that Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) is up for Chief of the LAPD against her mentor Chief Pope (JK Simmons).

Aftermath with William Shatner. The concept is to take an event that was once prominent in the news and revisit it, which I think is inherently worthwhile. I actually missed the first episode of this, an interview with Lee Malvo, the young DC sniper, when it was on A&E a few weeks ago. But I’ve seen the rest on Biography, or BIO, as it’s now called.

Bernie Goetz was the subway vigilante who shot four young men in 1984, and was a hero to many; I think Shatner subtlely showed Goetz’s self-justification of his actions to be perhaps a bit sociopathic. Shatner was a sympathetic interviewer to three of the DC sniper victims, and to Jessica Lynch, who he called brave for outing the military’s PR campaign re: her actions in Iraq. I must say that my least favorite episode was his with Mary Kay Letourneau and her now-husband Vili Fualaau, who she started sleeping with when he was 13, and she was his former teacher; Shatner wanted more licentious details of the love story. But the best episode thus far was the most recent one, about the bizarre shootout in Ruby Ridge, ID, between federal authorities and the Randy Weaver family; Sara Weaver, Randy’s daughter, talks about the death of her brother, and her mother being shot dead before her in wrenching detail.

The last episode will be about the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and will feature David Kaczynski, now head of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, who I have heard speak a few times, who had to turn in his brother to authorities. This will air Monday, September 6 at 10 pm EDT on BIO, followed by a repeat of the Ruby Ridge episode.

There will be one other program I will watch this week, and unfortunately, it’s Wipeout. It’s an obstacle course show designed for people to fail, and for the audience to laugh at the annoying running commentary of the instant replay disasters; I’ve seen it for ten minutes and REALLY hate it. But I’m told that my niece Rebecca and her husband Rico will appear on this show Tuesday, September 7 at 8 pm EDT, and family wins out.

So what television did YOU watch this summer?

And what new shows will you watch this fall? I’ve vaguely interested in the Hawaii 5-0 reboot, though a TV Guide article comparing this iteration of Steve McGarrett to Jack Bauer of 24 was discomforting. There’s a new legal show called The Whole Truth with Maura Tierney that I might check out. Anything else I OUGHT to try?

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