“How come Gibbs is wearing a coat in Arizona in the summer?”
I was talking to Garry. It was an NCIS rerun. We watch a lot of reruns, though this new fall season of TV is shaping up better than I expected, so maybe there will be new shows to watch.
The question about costumes comes up often and on various shows. One of the more common “duh” moments is when the male lead is wearing a coat and the female lead is skimpily dressed. No explanation needed for that one.
More weird is when each cast member is dressed randomly, apparently without regard for the plot. One is wearing a heavy winter coat, another a light denim jacket. A third is in shirtsleeves. Some are clothed in jeans or other casual stuff while others look ready for Wall Street … or a cocktail party. Women are supposedly hiking. Or running from or after serial killers while wearing 4-inch spike heels. My feet hurt looking at them.
Garry and I have done a tiny bit of movie “extra” work so I’m guessing it goes like this: “Go find something that fits in wardrobe and be on set in ten.”
Everyone hustles off to wardrobe, which looks like a jumble sale or the clothing racks at the Salvation Army store. Most of the clothing in the wardrobe probably came from a second-hand source, for all I know their local Salvation Army shop.
The cast dives in looking for something that fits. As soon as they find an outfit … any outfit … they head for a changing booth, then off to be on set before someone yells at them. Stars get slightly better wardrobe or wear their own clothing. Wearing ones own clothing on TV shows and movies are quite common. I understand why.
The real question is not why everyone on a show is poorly or inappropriately dressed. It’s whether or not the people who produce the show think we won’t notice.
My theory is they don’t care if we notice or not. They don’t want to spend money on a wardrobe. They figure if you and I notice, we won’t care. In any case, we’ll keep watching. And they’re right. It’s a bottom-line world. The wardrobe is an area where corners can easily be cut.
The thing is, we do notice. You don’t need to be a professional critic or especially astute to see the incongruities of television costuming.
It’s not just costumes, either. Sloppy editing, crappy scripts, stupid plots that include blatant factual and continuity errors. Ultimately, we do stop watching. Because it’s obvious they don’t care so why should we?
You notice it on long-running shows that had good scripts and editing, but not anymore. Quality drifts away. Producers are baffled when loyal fans stop tuning in. Obvious to a normal person, but apparently incomprehensible to network executives. Disrespect for viewers is at the root of much of the illness besetting the TV industry.
They should be nicer to us. We’re, after all, the customers. Aren’t we?
“Hey pal, what’s up?”
“Hey! I got trouble with my damn kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What seems to be the problem?”
“Last night they wuz shootin at cops and hoes all night.”
“I heard you. That’s terrible.”
“You’re tellin me. I tried to call them little pests to dinner but they would pay me no mind. I spent a lot of cash at KFC, but it’s all good.”
“Good, what do you mean good?”
“I mean I can eat that chicken again today.”
“But the kids…what happened to the kids?”
“Hell if I know. They were at it all night.”
“Yeah, yeah, I got it, but you must have terrible trouble with the police.”
“No, I don’t have no trouble. It’s those kids, they got the trouble, but I guess they’ll get the hang of it soon.”
Is there anyone who doesn’t or has never watched Jeopardy? As game shows went, that has to be the most popular one ever. When I was a young adult, people were addicted to this show. It wasn’t because they assumed they could go on it to win tons of money, though some did hope for that, but because Jeopardy was and remains the original TV trivia game.
This is Trivial Pursuits for the world, broadcast (depending on the decade and year), daily or weekly. It was created by Merv Griffin (what wasn’t created by Merv Griffin?) and has been on the air as a daily (5-days a week) show, a weekly nighttime event, or a daily evening presentation, usually just after dinner time — between 7 and 8 at night – since 1964. That’s 59 years which is a great deal of television! I think the reruns are as popular as the original. Is there any other show that has been continuously broadcast for this long?
Recently, it has become a headline:
“James Holzhauer was aiming for his 26th straight ‘Jeopardy!’ win Wednesday and moving closer to the $2 million mark in prize money.”
And he won. Again. So his winning roll continues. Unless he does something really stupid, he’s will come out of Jeopardy more than comfortable for the rest of his life.
Unlike most quiz shows, it didn’t give prizes. It was all about money. You got an answer and had to answer the answer with a question. When Trivial Pursuits came out as a board game during the 1980s, I kept being surprised that you didn’t have to answer the statement with a question. While I wasn’t addicted to the show as some people were, I did watch it and much to my amusement learned a lot more miscellany than I’d previously known.
I think writers are the best Trivial Pursuit players because we accumulate tons of random information. We absorb a bit of just about everything, from what we see, hear, and read. We remember bits of conversations about anything we hear or read. You just never know when that bit of information won’t become the lead in or conclusion of your next book, post, or long, shaggy dog story.
For most of the years when I occasionally watched it, Alex Trebek was the host. Since those years — I guess the last time I watched it was during the 1990s, probably with Garry’s mom — who was an addict. But she was in good company. Millions of people followed the show either sometimes or constantly.
It is the most popular show in elderly housing and gave them a chance to show off their knowledge, something old people rarely have an opportunity to do. Of course, we who blog are not showing off OUR knowledge. We’re just hanging out. Online!
Actually, I think blogging is our Jeopardy. We don’t cover quite as big a range of topics as the show does and did, we cover a lot of stuff. I have a genuine passion for writing about whatever weird little idea has passed across my brain.
It doesn’t need to be important. In fact, it’s unimportance is part of why I enjoy writing about it.
“Someday, I’m gonna walk down the street. People will look at me and say, “There he goes, the greatest there ever was!'”
It’s a familiar line. We’ve heard it from would be wonder boys across generations. It’s a line we hear now, used in admiration and derision, to describe the New England Patriots’ 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.
Sports radio and television yakkers beat the controversy drums every day. Is Brady better than Joe Montana? Peyton Manning? Steve Young? Is he the greatest there ever was? Audiences foam at the mouth during the debate. It’s the stuff media executives dream about. Drives up ratings which in turn drives up prices for those who buy radio and TV time.
The greatest there ever was.
Robert Redford echoed the line as a young Roy Hobbs in the classic baseball film, “The Natural.” Hobbs was the young everyman who dreamed of greatness. Many of us pursued the same dream.
I grew up in a generation when there were still many doors to be opened. Many challenges to be faced and answered. The social divide was still very evident in the United States. Overt racism was on display for all to see, even in so-called cradles-of-liberty cities.
Women were seen, but not heard. Ogled and groped, but not respected. It’s the way we were — back in the day. It’s also why so many of us were inspired to succeed. We wanted to show our worth, our value. We wanted more than respect.
We seem to have regressed back to those days but I hope not permanently.
It was a clear road we walked — to be the greatest there ever was.
I remember a hot, muggy, September 1959 afternoon at the Parris Island U.S. Marine Corps training base. The base commander stopped to chat up a group of new Marines, just returned from a double-time forced march near the swamp infested grounds that lay outside the base.
The young Gyrenes were clearly tuckered out, cursing the sandflies who nestled in their bodies. The commander zeroed in one group, singling out a young recruit of color who had attitude written on his face. “Private, how do you like the Marines, now?”
The young man broadened his smile. “Sir, permission to speak freely, sir?
The commander nodded. Red-faced drill instructors familiar with the young man stiffened in their nearby posts braced for the worst. The recruit eyed the DI’s, smiled at them and responded to the commander. “Sir, Private Armstrong is PROUD to be a marine, sir.”
The commander smiled.
The D.I.’s seemed relieved as the recruit continued talking to the commander who could make stripes disappear quickly off a sergeant’s shoulder.
“Sir, I love the Marines. I want to be the greatest there ever was, sir”.
The commander’s stoicism was replaced with a big smile. The D.I’s chuckled softly while glaring at Private Armstrong.
I did want to be the greatest Marine ever. This wasn’t any John Wayne fanboy stuff. My brief stint had fueled aspirations for a career in the Marine Corps, perhaps in the communications division. My hearing difficulties would soon end my life as a Marine, but it was a time I still remember with pride. It also helped me plot the course for the rest of my professional life.
In the decades that followed, I never lost the fire in the belly from my Marine Corps days. Some thought the “glamour” of TV news kept me happy and satisfied over the years.
I remember catching up with old friends over the years. They would tell me how successful they were. I heard about how much money they were making. The fancy cars they were driving. Vacation homes, country clubs, and so on.
I couldn’t, wouldn’t play that game. I inevitably wound up repeating how much I enjoyed my work. I talked about excitement, interesting people, dramatic stories — and the chance to make a difference.
There usually was a pause from the friend. I would then tell them I still wasn’t satisfied. Yes, I had awards, celebrity but there was something else.
I still wanted to be the best there ever was. Best replaced greatest somewhere over the years. No matter. The concept had not changed, just the wording.
I’ve been retired for more than 18 years after banking 40 plus years on the job. I think I’m satisfied with my body of work. Satisfied doesn’t do it.
Part of me still wants to be the greatest there ever was.
How many people actually know what they are buying when they buy television services?
It used to be that you bought a television. What you got when you tuned in was whatever was broadcast from big towers on top of tall buildings — free. It usually came from the tower placed atop the tallest building or a mountain where you lived.
It cost nothing. You paid for the television and the broadcasting was for everyone, courtesy of the FCC.
That’s how it was supposed to be, anyway. What you actually got was something else. Unless you happened to be positioned perfectly to get clear pictures from the signal tower, you might or might not actually get the channel you wanted to watch. Or anything at all. Signals were weak, too. So you got “snow” and “rolling.”
If you had a big antenna on top of your house, that could help, but it was a lot of years before television had the kind of resolution we have come to accept as normal. “Free” signals have not kept up with the quality of reception we expect.
In fact, since the 1980s, we have mostly given up free television. Cable TV arrived. With a sigh, we exchanged free television for cable companies who could give us clear reception at a price — replacing all that snow, rolling, and rabbit ears. All we had to do was pay the bill.
With cable, you could see clearly — as long as the cable worked. You paid a price for this service. Initially, not a huge price, but it got bigger and eventually, huge. Ultimately, the price for cable television was bigger than the price for electricity, trash collection, and sometimes, heat.
They lured you in with “specials” for 3-months, 6-months or a year. And when the “special” ended, you got a bill so enormous, your heart nearly stopped.
Suddenly, along came streaming packages. Streaming — wi-fi — was the stuff that made our computers work. It turned out it could also power television.
Instead of trying to compete with wi-fi-based services, cable companies kept raising prices while customers said: “Screw this!” and dropped their cable packages. Despite all evidence to the contrary, cable companies are still convinced most users will hang onto cable because they are too stupid and/or lazy to make the change.
They are wrong. Of course, since they are still the only ones allowed to offer wi-fi, they can keep raising those prices too. I’m sure they’ll keep getting their piece of our asses forever.
Even old people like us refused to pay hundreds of dollars for inferior packages. Ironically, AFTER I dropped Charter (Spectrum — the absolutely worst cable company of them all) offered me a good package at a reasonable price. I said “NO” because I’m not playing their game anymore.
I know them. They’ll offer me a bargain and next year, raise the price by $50. Been there, done that. Not doing it again.
So I bought YouTubeTV which is not only a moderately-priced platform but includes MLB and our local sports TV channel so we can watch all the baseball everywhere AND our own team (the Red Sox) too. What’s missing? HBO and Comedy Central. I miss HBO because of John Oliver — but it’s the only thing we watch on HBO and for $15/month, that a lot of money for one very good show. As for Comedy Central, we can watch it on the computer for free. I hate missing John Oliver, but it’s a small price to pay overall.
What are we buying? We are buying a platform that includes channels, just like when we bought a TV and got channels. The channels come in LIVE — just like “real” television. We can save shows (an unlimited number of them) but we can’t fast forward through them to skip commercials as we did on the DVR. That’s something we thought we’d miss but it turns out we don’t miss it much. Instead, we go to the bathroom, the kitchen, turn down the sound and actually talk to each other.
YouTubeTV is a platform, not a channel. It isn’t Netflix or Acorn. It’s more like cableTV than an individual channel.
Each channel is an individual channel that comes in over the platform. Live. You aren’t buying a “channel.” You are buying a live platform consisting of many signals.
What do you get? All of the networks for your area and a bunch of other channels, depending on your location. We are in the “Boston area” and get that package. We have friends in western Massachusetts who get a slightly different package.
Regardless, it’s a big package. A lot better than what we got from Charter including a lot less junk. More watchable channels. Lots of sports. TCM. Plenty of movies including Sundance, TBS. A variety of news channels. If you hate something (Fox news comes to mind) you can turn it off (we turned it off). A few kid things we turned off.
There’s also a connection to YouTube (regular) so you can watch some very old movies that you can’t find anywhere else via your computer, too. I’m really happy with it.
If Netflix gets any more expensive, I may decide to ditch it. It hasn’t gotten better — just more expensive.
You also get five family connections. We’ve only used three: me, Garry, and our granddaughter. Owen isn’t sure they watch enough TV to bother with it.
It has taken Garry a while to realize that TCM is not a separate channel but a channel that is part of the package that is YouTubeTV, that all those channels are part of one platform. That it’s like getting an entire cable package. For $40 a month. Including baseball.
I figured it out! The solution to reality! This reality! This reality TV reality!
The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BADreality TV reality. Face it, it’s not working. Each time something happens that we might think is positive, the next day — or the next hour — we discover we were deluded.
Do you know what does work?
Think about it. There was a show called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government was blown up during a State of the Union Address. The Executive Branch, Congress, Supreme Court? Wiped off the earth.
The only cabinet member that had to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the government from the ground up. While he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal in which the ones responsible for blowing everybody up are also trying to take over the country.
In spite of that, their government and President are doing a lot better job than ours! They are noticeably more sane and coherent and sometimes, they make intelligent decisions. Imagine that!
So here’s what we do. We switch realities!
It’s a win-win for everybody. How? It’s simple — at least in theory.
The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV, 24/7. Every day. You like watching the news? You’ll never miss another show!
On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C. They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on “Big Brother”. Only bigger.
And on Fox News.
They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News.
As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.
It just isn’t real.
“And it’s only on Fox.”
OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet?
Here’s who. Honest to God fictionalones.
The cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President. And if we dig into the DNC pool, we’ve got dozens more. Hell, every billionaire is ready to declare!
We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.” Again. As a matter of fact, just keep watching it over and over until you feel better. It’s like a political tranquilizer.
We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.
We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was the President, but he was (is currently, I believe) also God!
The list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.
Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!
Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already a Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.
Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.
Secretary of Defense? I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.
CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!
ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!
ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.
ISIS COMMANDER: Shit.
(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)
Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.
Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern but kindly Chiefs of Staff from any medical show you’ve enjoyed over the years. Any of them will do fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)
Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.
(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.
Five: The Election
How do we do this?
We have an election. Not the usual kind. What with voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and just candidates that don’t have the right scriptwriters, our elections are not working out well. That’s how we got into this mess, to begin with.
We have the election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.
Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College.
We can set up March Madness-style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. Imagine how many office pools there will be. You might even win!
And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.
This is absolute Democracy at work!
It could work!
As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people:
First off, this isn’t a blog about “Senior Moments”. You know, like when you get up and go into another room and the second you enter the other room you can’t for the life of you remember why you’re there.
The annoying part is that the only way to remember why you went in there is to go back to the room you started in. As soon as you do, you immediately remember why you got up in the first place.
“Oh right. I really have to pee.”
No, this blog is about memory and memories. Why does my brain work the way it does? Why do I remember some things and not others?
Let me explain.
I went to college. I was a biology major and pre-med. I took lots and lots of science courses; biology, physics, math, and chemistry. I got good grades. All A’s or B’s.
I learned lots of stuff. I knew calculus. I knew what a derivative was. No, not the financial thingies that caused the global crash of 2008. But equations that started with dy/dx, or something like that.
Notice the past tense in these last sentences? I “knew” all these things. Today, all that information is gone! Vanished, like I never took any of those courses. Actually, I do remember that there was something called the “Krebs Cycle.” It had to do with respiration or metabolism. I know it’s something we all do that’s very important. If we don’t do it, we die. But that’s all I remember.
Yet, with no effort at all, I can recite all the words to the theme song to the 1960’s TV show Mr. Ed!!!
“A horse is a horse of course of course, and nobody can talk to a horse of course. That is of course, unless the horse, is the famous Mr. Ed.” I could go on to the second verse.
But I won’t.
Hell, I can even recite the words to “Car 54 Where Are You?” And I didn’t really watch the show that often!
“There’s a hold up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights. There’s a scout troop short a child. Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild. Car 54 where are you?”
I swear I wrote those from memory. They flowed effortlessly from my brain, like crap through a goose. I didn’t Google them.
Which brings me to my next point.
We live in an amazing age. We have all the knowledge of the world literally at our fingertips. Any question you could possibly think of can be googled. It’s gotten so easy that you can type the most rambling of questions and still get the right answer.
For example, a while ago I got into a conversation about time travel and it reminded me of a movie I’d seen a long time ago. It was about an aircraft carrier that went back in time to just before Pearl Harbor. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name so I typed the following sentence into Google:
“There was this movie a long time ago about an aircraft carrier that goes back in time to just before Pearl Harbor and ….”
At this point, Google popped up “The Final Countdown.” It listed the cast, the plot, and where I could buy it. All before I could finish typing a full sentence! Wow!
It made me realize something. I could use the internet to bring back all that science knowledge I once had!
But I don’t.
I use it for far more important stuff. Mostly, finding out the name of the actor my wife and I are currently watching on TV. We know we’ve seen him or her on some other show. But we can’t for the life of us remember either his/her name or the show’s name. Google it! Go to IMDB!
“Oh, right! She was the head doctor on that show we used to watch back in the ’90s!”
“Right! She was married to … what’s his name? He was on … what was the name of that show?”
Back to Google.
So in the end, I still don’t know why my brain works the way it does. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Kreb’s Cycle.
When I started reading it, I actually remembered most of it. Although I gotta admit. It was pretty dull. Mr. Ed was a lot more fun.
Hmm. Maybe I do know why my brain works the way it does.
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