Category Archives: Entertainment

Back when we had to choose

Last Tuesday evening I updated my Facebook status: Glee or Lost

I was debating which program to watch that night, if any, knowing that I could watch both the next day on Hulu or ABC or whatever station Glee is on.

One of the responses, from Sandy — a mutual friend of Frances Lide, was DVR.

That got me thinking. There were times, in my life when I actually had to choose what program to watch because there was no DVR or Hulu or Tivo or VCR or On Demand programming. If you missed an episode of a program you could only hope a friend could explain the entire show to you or else you’d have to wait for reruns.

Of course, back when I was a kid growing up outside Chicago, we only had a few stations to choose from: 2  (CBS), 5 (NBC), 7 (ABC), 9 (WGN),  and 11 (WTTW — Public TV). It was not often that there were two programs I wanted to watch on at the same time. The only time I can think of where there were two programs on television that I wanted to watch was when I was in the third grade and Lost in Space and Batman were on at the same time. I probably would have watched both, had they been on at different times (or if we could have taped it), but I chose Lost in Space*.

We only had one television when I was a kid and my brother was far enough behind me in age that we rarely clashed over what to watch on television. I only recall one time that I wanted to watch a television program (Woody Woodpecker) when my parents wanted to watch something else which ended with me in tears and quite possibly a throwing a temper tantrum**. When my cousin, Bob, lived with us, we argued, once — that I recall anyway, about the TV. It was a Sunday night and I wanted to watch Masterpiece Theatre and he wanted to watch something else***. That too, probably ended with me in tears and throwing a temper tantrum.

I wonder if we all watched television together peacefully, or if we found other things to do when others were watching what they wanted to watch. I wonder how it was for larger families. Who got to choose what to watch? Did television stations compete like they do now? Did they pit family members against each other over what to watch? Were people less obsessive about television programs? Were the programs less addictive?

What do you remember about the days before the ability to record television programs? Who chose what to watch in your family? How did you choose?

—–
*My third-grade class was divided into the Lost in Spacers and the Batmanites. We Lost in Spacers made up a rhyme about Batman that we thought was hilarious at the time, but I can only remember the not hilarious part of it now:

“Batman and Robin
Batman and Robin
Something something something something
That’s what Batman and Robin are!

**It turned out that Woody Woodpecker was not on that night and my temper tantrum was wasted.
***I think I won because 1. The only television I watched at the time was on Sunday evenings when I watched Masterpiece Theatre and Monty Python & 2. Bob didn’t want to be in the same room with a crazy cousin who threw temper tantrums at age 19.

Dan Bern – Still the Messiah

Dean and I saw Dan Bern at Jammin’ Java last night. I think its been a year since the last time I saw him. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen him perform, but it is probably somewhere around 30. Last night’s performance was a good solid show — not particularly noteworthy except that he seemed in a good mood the entire performance.

He played lots of his old and recognizable songs including Tiger Woods, Black Tornado, Suzanne, Chelsea Hotel, God Said No, & Jerusalem. He played a couple of songs from Two Feet Tall, his new CD intended for kids: It Vibrates and Hen Party.

He played The 5th Beatles which always makes me laugh. I guess I’ve not heard it enough to remember all the jokes in it. He also played a song I’d not heard before. The first line was “God is a concept by which we measure our own pain”.

I like sitting near appreciative new-to-Dan folks and seeing / hearing their reaction to some of his lyrics — last night we sat near a table of them. They laughed at all the right places: “I’ve got big balls…” “I am the messiah…”

He also played his Christmas song which I’ve embedded below. It might not be safe for work — so play at your own risk.

The icing on the cake last night was running into a friend I’d not seen in years. It felt a little like old times again.

In which I agree with someone from the Guardian

wolfmanNote to Tina — if you still read this blog, skip this post. Vampires are mentioned.

My kids and I had an interesting conversation in the car last week on our way to somewhere (we were in the car a lot last week and this week). Clare brought Twilight along to re-read to gather even more ammunition for her “Why I hate the novels of Stephanie Meyer” campaign. She also suggested that vampires have had had their time in the sun (so to speak) and now it was time for another ghoul to get recognition. Andrew wondered which preternatural being would be popular next. He thought zombies perhaps. I suggested werewolves because I’d heard a rumor that that Dark Shadows is being made into a film starring Johnny Depp (as Barnabas Collins) and in the original series the hunk of the bunch was the werewolf, Quentin.

This was before I read the article in the Guardian in which the author also suggests werewolves are up next.

What do you think?

Coraline the Movie

I’ve mentioned Coraline before in this blog — I’m sure of it. That’s the book that got me hooked on Neil Gaiman? Anyway — Coraline is going to be released as a movie in February and a website (actually 2 websites but they seem to be identical) dedicated to it has been online for a while. It keeps on getting better and better. It began with a tease — and a puzzle. Now it has a lot more content.

And a workshop so you can get your own button eyes…

Clare and Andrew's Other Fathercoraline3

I’m looking forward to the movie. Gaiman saw it recently and said it was lovely and “really creepy”.

Storypeople

I don’t know if you have stores that sell Storypeople books and artwork in your area, but we have As Kindred Spirits (aka “Dona’s Favorite Store”).

Storypeople is a company / studio that creates books, cards, furniture, prints etc. based on the work of Brian Andreas. I got to meet Andreas back, just after his second book, Still Mostly True, was published. He is a down-to-earth person with a lot of stories to tell. His books are made up of truisms and illustrated with whimsical and usually primitive (think 5-year olds’ drawings) artwork. Check them out — I think you’ll like them. You can download a free e-book to see what the other books are like — but honestly — I don’t like the e-book as much as I did the first three (the only ones I own). Their site is a hoot — if somewhat difficult to navigate.

I just saw that they are also offering videos — Here’s their Halloween 2008 offering. Enjoy.

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No more Netflix Profiles

Netflix just sent me an email:

Important News Regarding Netflix Profiles

Dear Dona,

We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.

If you have any questions, please go to http://www.netflix.com/Help?p_faqid=3962 or call us anytime at 1 (888) 638-3549. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– The Netflix Team

While this won’t bother me — I quit using profiles a long time ago because Dean and the kids would put the same movies on their queues as I had on mine and it got confusing — I imagine a lot of people are going to be upset. Especially since Netflix gives no reason except “To continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers”. Some examples would have been in order.

Dang — these folks at Netflix are not as smart as I thought.