Alison

Feb. 13th, 2009 01:41 pm
phamos: (eyes)

A woman who was an inspiration to me died last night. I am having intermittent crying jags. The world is a better place because she was in it, and is a poorer place for her loss.

I really just don't know what else to say.

phamos: (flat albert)
The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have returned to the airwaves after nine weeks of strike-induced absence. Neither host wanted to go back on the air without their writers, but their contracts left them with little choice. I watched the first episodes back of both shows. As we were watching them, Segev said, "Do you support the writers strike?" When I answered decisively in the affirmative, he snapped, "Well, then why the hell did you download these?" I explained that the Daily Show was already paid for, the money already long gone from the iTunes monthly pass I had purchased but not completed before the strike. The auto-renewal has now been turned off, but I'm going to watch the remaining 5 episodes relatively guilt-free. And the Colbert Report...that somehow mysteriously appeared on my hard drive. Maybe the Viacom fairy put it there; I don't know... Suffice it to say that the writers may not have received any income from my viewing of Monday night's Colbert Report, but neither did Sumner Redstone or Les Moonves. (And, to be perfectly honest, I feel absolutely zero guilt about this. The studios are going to have a hell of a time trying to prosecute intellectual property cases on internet downloads of TV shows if they've proclaimed that viewing an entire episode online is a "promotional use" [even when there are unskippable ads embedded] and therefore shouldn't result in residual payments to the writers. If the internet episode has no monetary value, what are you suing me for? Not to mention Betamax time-shifting blah-di-blah...I'm over it. Get your act together, AMPTP.)

So, anyway, the results of the first episodes were mixed. Jon Stewart was widely criticized for being kinda cranky about the fact that the WGA wouldn't break him off the same deal that Worldwide Pants got. I personally think that the Worldwide Pants deal was a bad strategic call on the part of the WGA. They're saying that it's a totally different case because Worldwide Pants owns the rights to Letterman's show, where as Busboy Productions doesn't own The Daily Show or The Colbert Report (Viacom does). But, you know, where I'm standing, CBS is getting ad revenues from Letterman the same way that Comedy Central gets ad revenues from Colbert. The difference really seems to be that The Daily Show has more cachet as a bargaining tool than Letterman does -- higher profile, I guess, what with John Oliver traipsing around New York with picket signs, being all British and cute. Obviously Jon was a little upset, because he wants his show to go back to normal, but he's very sympathetic to labor, and he knows how much he depends on his writers for material. (Last night's episode had a great bit where Jon quoted Cocoon and it flew right over the college-aged audience's head -- he said, "You know, without my writers all my references are going to be from the '80s. I can get up to about Breakfast Club, and then nothin'.") He's conflicted. So Jon's first episode back was a little rough, especially compared to Colbert. Colbert has a huge advantage -- he comes from an improv background, a rich and storied Second City improv background, and is much more able to just wing it than stand-up Jon. Colbert really can just pull stuff out of his ass and be funny at a moment's notice. It's kinda brilliant. But, as I've said before, although I'm a huge fan of Colbert himself, I'm not super fond of the show. Colbert-the-persona is a little hard for me to take in full half-hour doses. If the episodes were Aqua-Teen-sized, then I'd be totally up for it. 11 minutes of Colbert-larity, in and out, boom. But I cant do the full half hour. Which is sad, because half-hour shows are really only 21 minutes long. I have no attention span left.

Last night's Daily Show, however, was leaps and bounds better, and featured a music cue that made me laugh hysterically -- as a response to Hillary's total non-cry heard around the world, they did a montage of presidents and other celebrities crying set to "It's Alright to Cry" from Free To Be You And Me, ending with the classic shot of the Indian crying about pollution. Jon's cultural references really did top off somewhere in the mid-70s. I think Cocoon is actually pushing it, timeline-wise. But that montage totally made me want to download Free To Be You And Me and sing about how William Has A Doll and Parents Are People, People With Children, and listen to Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks riff about gender roles. Awesome. (Speaking of Betamax...I HAD THAT on betamax! It was part of the Children's Video Library, which had an animated logo with balloons and a jaunty whistled tune. They also put out Benji movies on videotape. I miss my childhood so.) It looks like Hillary has learned the lesson Rosey Grier made clear all those years ago: It's alright to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you.
phamos: (wangchungorillkickyourass!)
Dude. Tony DiMera is 62. HE IS 62. Like sands through the hourglass, amirite or amirite? (Also, Deirdre Hall is 60. That's some damn good plastic surgery she's had. She's also a Kucinich fan. Wikipedia is awesome.)
phamos: (frazzle)
I don't remember if I mentioned this back when Old School Sesame Street Volume 1 came out, but I remember being shocked by it and am glad other people were, too: The DVD has a disclaimer saying that it is meant for adults and might not be suitable for "the needs of today's preschool child." So all the kids that grew up watching Sesame Street between 1969 and 1979 (the years covered by the two available sets) have been horribly mind-warped? Whew! Glad I just missed the cutoff. I'm sure volume three will be totally acceptable. After all, Elmo arrived in 1984. He'll make everything alright.
phamos: (childhood)
When I was a very little girl, there was a bakery down the street from my house where my mother and I would go and buy cookies. (It was in an old house right next to Panos, if that means anything to anyone reading this.) I am suddenly craving their pumpkin cookies. It's been more than 20 years since the place closed, and I can still taste them. Want. Can't have. Bogus
phamos: (wangchungorillkickyourass!)
Holy crap, I downloaded all these absolutely terrible '80s songs the other day and I am LOVING them. I feel like I am in 3rd grade again. It's amazing. Like, "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz? Why am I not at Skateland right now???
phamos: (wangchungorillkickyourass!)
When I was little, my sister made a videotape (a Betamax cassette, to be precise) that contained within it many gems of early '80s Days of Our Lives goodness. This tape, along with the many, many issues of Soap Opera Digest Mimi left behind when she went to college, spurred on my obsessive love of the show. The very first thing on the tape? Was Roman Brady being killed by Stefano. And YouTube, god bless it, has the whole beautiful, overacted thing.



Prisms! Yachts! Joe Mascolo's jumpsuit and Wayne Northrup's perm and Peter Reckell doing high kicks in cut-off shorts and stripey soccer socks! And that shot of Bo and Hope on the raft is the BEST use of green screen of ALL time.



Watch Bo's mullet glisten sadly in the sun...it's a thing of beauty. (Plus the "sad Roman" theme music that they brought back to such great effect throughout the years...it makes me all teary.)
phamos: (gonzotwirl)
Slate article in which Maurice Sendak calls Mickey Mouse a shithead = My favorite Slate article of the week.
phamos: (posers)
Enjoy the new book about the single most important publication in teen girl history. Sassy changed their lives? It changed mine, too. I'm sure I've written about Sassy on here before at some point, so I won't babble for too long. But I was weird in middle school. Sassy taught me that it was cool to be weird. And even if that mentality has bubbled over to unfortunate effect into the totally overwrought hipster scene, it doesn't change the fact that some funky 20-something girls in New York once told me that it was OK to wear Docs or Birkenstocks and listen to Liz Phair and dye your hair with Kool-aid (although they didn't recommend the latter, just for the sticky-and-impractical factor). It's hard to overstate how revolutionary that was for a gawky, dorky 12-year-old girl at a private school in Buffalo. I know many of you can relate.
phamos: (neverendingpeter)
I recently watched the whole second season of Robot Chicken. Other than a brief "You suck, Scott Norwood!" joke (which made me bust out laughing), this was the best thing in it:

phamos: (surrealbaboon)
When I was 5 years old, I made a video tape that had Frosty the Snowman and the Irwin Allen two-part celebrity-studded Alice in Wonderland special (which came out on DVD about a month after I bought a boot of it -- bogus). Alice in Wonderland was absolutely awesome. I made Segev watch it the other day and he thought it was awful. Which it is. But also awesome. What beats Sherman Helmsley in a mouse costume swimming in a river of tears singing about how much he hates dogs and cats? Nothing. Except maybe Carol Channing turning into a goat. The special also scared the bejeezus out of me, with the giant roaring lightning-flashy Jabberwocky that periodically appears. But then Lloyd Bridges sings a song and everything is all better. Sigh of relief.

I held onto the tape for a long time. I had it all through college. When I made the switch over to DVD completely, it had to go -- the only cassette I still have is The Jungle Book. Well, that and the Cher-fitness workout tape. But we won't talk about that.

But the tape was such a beautiful time-capsule of TV during my childhood. Part of that capsule-effect was the advertising. Two ads in particular stood out in my memory -- they were played every Christmas, and they were both on that tape. The first is Ronald McDonald and the badly-animated deer helping up the little boy who falls while ice-skating. The second is the son-coming-home-from-college Folgers ad. And thanks to the magic of YouTube, they're both readily available.





Commercials really stick with you -- it's kind of horrifying, but true. I'll try to think up some other good ads and post them. The only thing that's springing to mind right now are the Micro-machines commercials, but that was more a marketing campaign and not any one particualr really well-crafted ad that stands out. Thinking Micro-machines for some reason makes me think of Wacky Wall-walkers, which of course makes me think of Dr. Fad, the worst show ever to run in that really early Saturday morning slot (yes, worse than the Fraggle Rock cartoon OR Alf Tales. Did you know that Alf Tales is out on DVD? That's nostalgia taken to a ridiculous level.) I looked up Dr. Fad on YouTube, but it's so bad I can't even bring myself to post anything from it. I may have to do a separate post on Saturday morning television once Gummi Bears comes out on DVD (November 14th) -- I'll rent it and see if it holds up. The theme song certainly does. It's beyond compare. They are the Gummi Bears. They are the GUM-MI BEARS!
phamos: (gorbash)
I was listening to my iPod the other day and the Pharcyde's "Ya Mama" came on.

"Ya mama's glasses are so thick she look into a map and see people wavin at her."

I'd never really paid attention to that part of the song, and for some reason I was incredibly amused.

I got The Little Mermaid on DVD today and was excited to watch it, having not seen the movie in close to 10 years. It was only slightly ruined by the fact that Segev kept posing questions about logical inconsistencies. I had to continually point out to him that it's a movie about MERMAIDS and TALKING CRABS, and if he's able to accept that, then why can't he accept that there's a giant gold castle at the bottom of the sea without needing to know where they mined the gold? Anyway, I was horrified to realize that The Little Mermaid came out 17 freakin' years ago, and I am officially OLD.
phamos: (surrealbaboon)
I've added the newest Doonesbury book, "The War Years", to my books sidebar on Vox. It is actually just a compilation of two earlier books, "Peace Out Dawg" and "Got War", but it's all nice and hardcovery and shiny shiny. I like buying the Doonesbury books when they come out in larger format, as it...well, it just looks nicer on my shelf, and I am anal and obsessive compulsive like that. Why buy coffee table books if they're not going to look nice on your coffee table?

I think another reason I am invested in the large-format Doonesbury books is because that's how I first read the strip. My parents had a copy of the very first large-format Doonesbury book, "The Doonesbury Chronicles", when I was a child. Honestly, I think my mom got it as a present or something, because I never saw her reading it, but I picked it up at some point and loved it. Of course, I only got half the jokes. I remember very specifically asking my mom "What's Turkish Hashish?" after reading one strip in particular. And "What's a honky?" So I've been invested in the strip for a long time. I think it goes through strong periods and fallow periods, though I'm pretty much always happy when it focuses on Alex, Mike's teenage daughter. She's been a hoot for years now, starting with calling her mother's boyfriend "Uncle Stupidhead". It's so dumb, and yet something about the way Trudeau phrases it every time makes me laugh.

A couple of years ago, B.D., one of the main characters since the very first strip, lost his leg in Iraq. I remember that I happened to read the strip online that day, even though I hadn't read it in months, and I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. And yet what was really shocking, and really hit home, wasn't that in the last frame his leg was missing. It was that his helmet, which you never saw him without, was off. It was just this incredibly fragile moment, rendered really beautifully, that was designed to particularly affect people who had been reading for years. And I was so afraid he was going to die. I really was. Trudeau hasn't killed off a character in quite some time, and given that he's been doing the strip since the late '60s and the characters, though their ages have certainly been fudged quite a bit, are firmly in middle age now, they're due to start dropping if the strip keeps going. The only people that have died are Andy, a very minor character who appeared briefly in the late '70s as the token gay character and was then brought back in the late '80s to die of AIDS, Lacey, the congresswoman who was in her 80s even when she first appeared, and Mark's father, who was probably around 80 in the strip when he died. No primary characters. I fear for Joanie -- she's about 70 now. Yikes. 70. That seems impossible, but I was just reading strips in the book from 2002 and she cops to being 66. So yeah, 70. I kinda dread the potential for total baby-boomer angst as these characters age even further, but it will be interesting to see what develops. In the meantime, I will continue to laugh at Uncle Stupidhead, Zonker, and even Duke, though his prominence irritates me a lot of the time.
phamos: (henson)
Now that Amazon is selling groceries, the reviews page for a gallon of milk has apparently become the target for, at this point, 332 jokers who feel it's their destiny to write the funniest thing about milk ever published on the internet.

There was one that tickled the funny bone of this Sesame Street-obsessed reader:

I drank the last of the milk 3 days ago, and so my mother decided it was time I replenish it. I was walking down to the local store to purchase a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter... when I came across a man with arms that went the wrong direction and everything was in psycadelic colours and sounds. I went by an insane machine and then by a crazy fountain, and got to the store, and purchased my goods, only to realize that I forgot where I was. I asked advice of a strange technicolor man, who sent me on my way ... having reminded me of all the bizarre landmarks I passed. So I got home and exclaimed to my mother look, I remembered! A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter!

I hope they do realize that those are two separate sketches. And if we're going to mention Sesame Street sketches having to do with milk, I must, of course, post my personal favorite.

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phamos: (henson)
Here's some really early Sesame Street, before Carroll Spinney really got the hang of moving in the suit and working the beak at the same time. Not to mention the weirdness of Big Bird's voice.



My mom used to sing this song to me all the time. "Everyone makes mistakes, so why can't yooooouuuuuu?" It's nice that I had a mom with that sort of attitude.
phamos: (wangchungorillkickyourass!)
for some reason i have a DISTINCT memory of listening to this brenda k. starr song while reading that anastasia book where she takes classes at the modeling agency...
phamos: (nerd)
i was thinking yesterday about how i have frequent moments of deja vu. for example, mati was sitting in the wicker chair and talking about something, and there was a moment where the tone in his voice and the position of his body and the look on his face were things i had SEEN BEFORE, probably in a dream, i would swear it. this has happened to me for a long time and it always weirds me out.

but then i started thinking about the computer game "deja vu", and how i never really got into that one. it seemed very adult and noir to me, and i didn't find that appealing. but i remember loving another text-command based game, and i wasn't sure of the name but i thought it was "transylvania", and lo and behold, i was right:



my dad and i used to sit and play that game and give it commands that it wouldn't let you do -- i.e. when that werewolf would show up, tell it to "puke up garlic" and the computer would be like "i do not understand that command. werewolf eats you. game over."

i also used to play "life and death" with thea, but that was many years later and much higher tech. i just remember we could never quite make it through the appendectomy, so we'd get punchy and start doing ridiculous things, like putting blood in the IV drip, and cutting someone's subcutaneous fat open and then scrubbing it with a sponge for no reason. i was never very good at video games, but i had my fun.
phamos: (letmebeyoursong)
the muppet wiki has solved the great television mystery of my life. when i was in middle school, i watched a couple episodes of a bizarre canadian puppet show that involved two kids, a lighthouse, a sleeping giant, and all sorts of random stuff. i could never figure out what day or time it aired, so i just saw a couple of random episodes when i chanced upon them. for years i've been trying to figure out what it was, without any success.

well, apparently the guy who made it was a muppeteer on fraggle rock. i randomly clicked on a link on the muppet performers page of the wiki and saw the words "blizzard island". i gasped. that's IT! that's IT!

i was just mentioning this show to segev the other day, wondering why i could never find it on google and why no one on the canadian television thread over on TWoP knew what i was talking about. turns out the kids weren't in the lighthouse, the puppet witch lived in the lighthouse. so the description i was giving to people all these years, what i was basing my google search on, was slightly off. i never understood why i couldn't just google "canada lighthouse puppet" and come up with something. today is a happy day. i'm a little disappointed to realize that all the puppets look really crappy, but whatever. apparently it was made into a movie called "argon's quest", but i don't know if that was recycled footage from the show compiled into a movie-length production, or entirely different. looks like the blizzard island website was never completed. boo.
phamos: (dahl)
remember how a couple of weeks ago i mentioned my confusion over the saying "BFD" and the roald dahl book "the BFG"?

well, in a similar vein, i'm now reading about iraq and having to constantly remind myself that "RPG" stands for "rocket-propelled grenade", NOT "role-playing game". the insurgents are not wielding 12-sided dice.
phamos: (dahl)
somewhere along the line my brain mixed up the title of the roald dahl book "the BFG" and the saying "B.F.D." so now i think of the title character as "the big fucking giant".

quentin blake's illustrations made the BFG (actual meaning: big FRIENDLY giant) look just like roald dahl. ironically, the man wasn't particularly friendly. but he was a fucking giant, so maybe my way works better.

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