Category Archives: 2014 Olympics

“Lassie” and Television’s Progress

Standard

On Friday, September 12, 2014, 60 years of television had passed by, since “Lassie’s”

first debut episode. The show was simple, meaningful and encompassed all areas of

rural living, (1954 – 1973). When they list the ‘longest lasting television series,’ they

place this show close to top of the list.

 

The years I remember the show, “Lassie,” best had June Lockhart as portraying my

favorite mother of all time. The father was genuinely well-acted by Hugh Reilly and

my favorite little boy, “Timmy,” was played by Jon Provost.

 

Although the leading “human” roles changed over the years, there was always the

faithful dog, “Lassie.” (Many dogs played this role, of course, through the years.) I

enjoyed the various transitions of “Lassie,” having family values and including life

lessons.

 

Fast forward to September and October, 2014 for the New Fall, 2014 television

season.

It would be nearly impossible to picture most of the newest additions to our current

television programming to last ten years, let alone 19 years.

 

The “CSI” and “NCIS” shows are still going strong and on this Fall’s t.v. line-up.

I am going to miss having the original show, “CSI,” with its location of Las Vegas,

when it moves to its new Sunday evening slot. Sunday is my favorite ‘catch up’ night,

with PBS, Hallmark and I still am a big fan of “Once Upon A Time” and “Revenge.”

The new Fall line up is already getting over-crowded on my own Sunday night.

 

I was talking to a good friend who thinks some of the shows sound “silly” and was

pointing out a Columbus Dispatch critic thought Debra Messing would be hard to

imagine being a cop, in the new show called, “”Mysteries of Laura.”

Since I would first respond, I love the silly show, “Mike and Molly.” I may be quite

blasphemous to say that “Mike” would NEVER make it on a real police force, due

to his large size…

Criticism from someone who loves all kinds of wild SyFy shows like, “Haven” and

“Eureka,”  and on regular network t.v., “Under the Dome,” should be wondering

about their own ways they stretch their imagination! I am laughing with you; not

at you, my friend!

 

Can you suspend your sense of disbelief and let your imagination go?

I remember the funny ways we learned, as children to open our ‘escape hatches’

and step into the Lands of Wonderment.

 

I shall try all the shows with female-driven plot lines. They have had ‘good fortune’

in the past. Imagine “The Good Wife” not being on,  not receiving another round of

Emmy Award nominations. I think it is nice to see women in professional situations,

not wearing an ‘apron’ and carrying out the character of a ‘housewife and mother.’

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy programs that have women who have chosen to

stay at home to do

this very important job and having this be part of the plot line, too. Choices are what

makes this a different world from the Fifties and Sixties’ television programming.

 

“We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

I like the characters in this sweet little show about a single mother with a son, you may

recognize him from big screen movies, I “About a Boy.” I am sadly not pleased with

where they tucked this show into a 9:30 time slot. It is ‘not cute’ but original and quirky.

We, if you are a viewer, are ‘rooting’ for the handsome neighbor man to become the single

mother’s date. Although it is about a boy, it is definitely about the mother, too. Having

raised 3 children on my own, I am particularly happy to watch this one. I also like the

upcoming role of Katherine Heigl getting another chance on television in “State of

Affairs.” While Katherine Heigl left “Grey’s Anatomy,” definitely getting better comedic

roles in movies, she is still sorely missed as the character of “Izzy,” on that show. I am

looking forward to seeing her as a CIA agent. She was funny in “One for the Money,” a

movie based on the hilarious antics of a bondswoman in more than 20 books by Janet

Evanovich.

 

If you liked Tea Leoni’s funny past roles you may have seen her show her acting chops

in serious dramas, too. We will see which direction she heads in, “Madame Secretary.”

She was one of the wackiest women on television for 2 years in a show called, “The Naked

Truth.”

 

I have read a decent review of “Red Band Society.” It is not a “Breakfast Club,” nor

is it one that will be all laughs, but will tackle diseases and illnesses with a touch of

humor and give it an uplifting spin. It is a group of young people who are ones who

have hospital experiences, who are dealing with personal challenges. I picture it more

like the movie, “Stand By Me,” in its tone and togetherness. It is about a ‘band

of young misfits.’

 

Critics are harsh when it comes to some and not so much with others. I remember

when I discovered, “How I Met Your Mother.” It was before the critics endorsed it,

awhile back. I am sad how they chose to end it, with the death of the mother but

happy the main gal, Robin, got her ‘man.’

 

The serious shows genre are tougher to predict. I would imagine Scott Backula will

knock the New Orleans’ version of “NCIS” out of the park. I happen to have liked his

‘goofy’ portrayal of character in “Quantum Leap.” I am not sure about, “Stalkers,” but

will support Dylan McDermott, since he is still okay after all these years since his role

as a non-supportive ‘husband’ for Julia Robert’s dying ‘wife’ role in “Steel Magnolias.”

 

Another serious plot line can be found in “Gracepoint.” (Not to be confused with the

CIA/FBI show about the safe house, “Graceland.”) David Tennant, from the British

show, “Broadchurch,”and Anna Gunn are two strong actors that will head up the

already critically-acclaimed and well-promoted television show. This show is set in a

fictional California coastal community.

 

I think that the “Forever” show that is listed on two consecutive days, for its kick-off

first two episodes sounds good.  Sadly, I lost “Journeyman” and also another traveling

through  time show just in the past two years. I will hope this one ‘sticks’ because I like

the concept. I used to enjoy “Time Tunnel” on television and “Back to the Future,” on

the movie screen.

 

I have been a fan of Josh Dushamel ever since the show, “Vegas.” I have enjoyed his

forte into romantic comedies, too. The actor, Dushamel will be on a new show called,

“Battle Creek,” This will be loosely based on likely crimes to be found in Battle Creek,

Michigan. His co-star/partner will be that of Dean Winters. You will recognize him,

but not necessarily ‘place’ him. I will check this one out simply because I love crime-

solving television series.

 

I will return to comedies. This is what a good friend in Lancaster, Ohio mentioned

when we turned 50: “Try to laugh more, watch comedies!”

I came up with a slogan, which I will hope no one else has coined:

“Humor is found in the ‘ear’ of the listener.”

(“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”)

So, if you liked “My Favorite Martian” did you ever try 2 seasons of “Neighbors?”

I think not, since it did not make it. This was clever, witty writing with four likable

adults, along with poking fun at Suburbia. I will miss this, unless it is on a later

schedule, it did not make the ‘cut.’

 

If you liked “Scrubs,” you probably followed the guy who was the janitor on over

into “The Middle,” who became the ever patient, sometimes ‘clueless’ Dad in this

sit-com. This also includes Patricia Heaton, who played the Mom/wife roles in

“Everyone Loves Raymond.”

 

If you liked “Taxi,” “Barney Miller” and “Psych,” you may have discovered last year’s

Emmy-awarding comedy, “Brooklyn 9-9.” Hilarious, quirky and goofy at times, but

watch out, you may laugh out loud anyway.

 

I am wishing that Nielson’s Rating chart were in my mailbox, because I had such a

lovely time about eight years ago, studying and analyzing the television Fall Season

Line-ups back then. The first time I had the full control of a remote control.  I wrote

some comprehensive and profuse notes for those receiving my multiple page Nielson

Ratings Report. I  am not a paid writer nor do I write for a newspaper. I was able to

honestly say this, it was all for the love of television and the future of programming

that I was inspired to carry out my ‘duties’ in this report.

 

My final thoughts on the Progress television has made since “Lassie” was on.

You are invited to ‘debate’ these comments, too. I love a good and lively discussion!

 

I personally feel current shows embrace more ethnicities, culture and show characters

with wider world views in our programming. They encompasses much more ‘diversity’

on television since my childhood days. This means the people who are represented

are not stereotyped as much, anymore.

 

I like that there are two children with special needs included in some popular shows.

I recommend, “Parenthood,” and if you have never seen this, start by watching the

first shows. It is cool to watch this fine young actor, “grow up” with two caring

‘parents’ who disagree about how to handle him, along with a supportive ‘family.’

I am not sure how they would ‘label’ the character, “Brick,” in the show “The Middle,”

but the family accepts him just as he is.

I feel the shows today give better examples of the way families really act, showing

varied relationships, how to handle or not able handle serious and controversial

subjects such as addictions, challenges and sexual orientations.

 

We have heroes and villains. The same as in the past, sometimes more graphically

(and honestly presented.)

 

World conflicts and images are horrifying.  We cannot ignore what is going on, bury

our head in the sand. Powerful, and yet maddening, events are daily depicted (some

consider, ‘bombarded’) on our television sets.

We are urged to ‘act’ and ‘choose’ which side of the dilemmas we will take, as a nation

and other countries must, too.

Along with this serious, somewhat negative impact of television’s immediacy to

situations, we have positives.

We have the opportunity to watch the Olympics, sporting events and international

specials, shown across the world. My coworkers and friends from the Philippines

were captivated by Pope Francis being chosen to be the Roman Catholic Pope.

Other friends were entranced by the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana. Then,

many followed the tragic ending to Lady Diana’s life. They were hopeful for the

more recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The baby’s birth and

now, the next one on its way, are subjects that many feel are happy bits of news.

 

History, social studies, geography and science are subjects of programs, for

everyone to  learn about, grow to enjoy and get more educated. There are so

many fascinating shows to watch. Nature, musical and art works may never be viewed

or listened to, first hand. Other countries and animals, places that may not be within

everyone’s budget or ability to travel.

 

Some people are not necessarily able to buy or read the newspaper. They find out

information about the world they live in, from the television news shows.

Hurray For National Geographic, Travel Channel, PBS, Weather Channel and

other quality network programming!

 

We have real and make-believe images still, with our magic carpet rides taking off,

from our own homes.

 

There are subjects and shows I may never care to watch. I embrace and support

those who like QVC shopping, cooking shows, reality shows and true dramas,

because they are part of the wide community of television watchers.

 

Many of the shows I choose to watch, you may not want to watch. I got hooked on a

soap opera, during our second break at work. For the past six years, I am ‘guilty’ of

watching, “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

All the years I stayed home and babysat, I did not watch any soap operas. I did in

college, much to the chagrin of my parents, when I mentioned I was scheduling my

courses around a couple of soap operas!

 

I was listening, the first year of American Idol, to all the animated conversations in

the teachers’ break room. They were talking about the ‘bad’ try-outs and the odd

characters. It was in the very beginning of the national search for those who would

make it to “Hollywood.” This caught my attention and I am so glad that I started

watching it.  I can say, “I remember when I first heard Carrie Underwood’s fantastic

voice, was medium built and had frizzy hair!” Along with several well-known singers

who made it to the Top Ten or higher.

 

I am grateful that I don’t have to sit on a sofa and listen to radio to imagine the

great radio characters of the “Green Hornet,” “Gracie Allen and George Burns,”

or how the President of the United States looks like as he is speaking. I enjoy

hearing my Mom’s excitement when she heard about Amelia Earhart’s trans-

Atlantic plane trip and her memories of the “Fireside Chats,” with President

Roosevelt, though.

 

I liked how we  used to watch to find out if we had school on Snow Days. Later,

if our children or grandchildren have school cancelled. I enjoy watching to see

how ‘my’ candidates or ‘my’ issues are doing, as the voting polls report in their

results.

 

I am saddened that there are blind people who cannot see, but grateful for the

inventions of special devices and increased equipment due to new technology

allowing them ‘to see’ the shows. The descriptions of the setting, characters and

other visual ‘clues’ are given. I have read about these and think the inventors are

brilliant for creating and providing this service. There are new creations in hearing-

impaired equipment, too.

 

Many people cannot afford to go to the movies or take a vacation with their families.

They may not go to Broadway but on PBS, they can see a Broadway play or musical.

They get their main form of entertainment from television.

 

There are others, lying on their back sometimes, healing from surgery or permanent

disabilities. My Dad liked to watch the comedies, while getting his chemo treatments.

Laughing made him feel so much better on those days he was nauseous.

 

The elderly in the nursing home I worked at for 4 1/2 years, liked to watch the shows

on TV Land, old reruns of “Lawrence Welk” and  “Bonanza,” along with their church

programming on Sunday mornings. The beauty of fireworks in our country and

celebrations around the world, brought big smiles to their faces. They enjoyed, as

I still do, the lovely creations in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 

We get a sense of conscience from our ‘small screens.’  The night I watched, “Stand

Up 2 Cancer” impacted me, along with millions of other people watching. It moved

us to donate to some form of Cancer (Society) fund-raising, including Hospice Care,

research and local hospitals.

 

Remember “One Small Step for Mankind?” We now look forward to continued

space travel, inventions and research. When we hear of satellites making it to

Mars or other planets this gives us information that we may use in the future.

 

A quote about freedom from H.L. Mencken, American author and journalist

(1880-1956):

“We must be willing to pay a price for freedom,

for no price that is ever  asked for it,

is half the cost of doing without it.”

 

My soap box, put away for now. . .

 

 

 

What do you watch?

Have you heard about any new t.v. show compelling you

to ‘set your DVR’?

 

Sochi and Mom Visit

Standard

Mom, my two brothers, one sister in law and I headed

out for dinner over by Crocker Park, in Westlake, Ohio.

We had decided that Max and Erma’s was going to be our

destination. Fun times, consoling and warm thoughts, along

with our being able to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony,

in Sochi, Russia were all reasons for our choice.

Max and Erma’s is a busy, pleasant restaurant which features

good food, friendly atmosphere and television screens.

One of the first topics, our little ’roundtable’ tackled

was the subject of my AWOL post. We talked about losing

someone special and the way our hectic, frantic lives and

sometimes just the winter season pressing down on us can

push us over the ledge. Susan, a professor at Baldwin Wallace,

mentioned several times in her college teaching years where

the subject of depression and suicide has been on her students’

minds. Students feel pressure, besides everyone’s outside view

of college being just for parties…

Rich mentioned how he has encountered this in his teaching

both elementary school (parents and family members being

the main ones who were overcoming challenges in his twenty

years of inner city teaching, special education.)

Randy and I talked about former classmates at our high

school, one a part of set of twins and another man who was

a brilliant genius, along with being a gentle and humorous

man. Andy C. had been on my list of ones to remember and

commemorate. His Science Club participation in recycling,

along with the way he chose a project in the 70’s to put

solar panels up on the top of the high school to ‘warm the

water’ were part of our memories. His sister, Alice, had

been in my class and Andy in Randy’s class. His death in

his fifties surprised and upset us both.

Mom told us of someone, in her family, who came back from

Viet Nam changed by his experience. Nowadays, she said,

they would consider it post traumatic stress. Her cousin,

Johnny, was an artist and a sensitive member of a set of

twins, too. He did not ever fully emotionally recover from

his war times, but did not kill himself. Family members had

wrapped him up, deciding to insulate him, and offer him

some security. His father had funded several business

opportunities and Johnny continued living ‘hand to mouth’

by creating art pieces. Some reflected depth and darkness

and others were of the Rockport seaside town he lived in.

We chose food that sustained us, but the ‘food for thought’

was what I needed and nourished on more. My brother asked

me about that ‘matchmaking deal’ that Felicia had done

with the political analyst. He wanted to know more of the

details than my blog had shared and wondered why I did not

get up and leave immediately.

First, I did feel that the man, Bill, needed to see what

he had done, realize after he spoke with me, that he had

made too quick of judgments on my family and other subjects.

I reasoned with him, filling him in on my background, which

I am never bragging about, really just proud of my parents

and brothers. I have succeeded in a few things, myself, I

wished to share. I didn’t want to let Bill ‘off the hook.’

Susan asked me why I didn’t throw a cup of Panera coffee

at him, regarding his remark about my children’s kids. I

told her, I responded back, “Well, for a Democrat you seem

to be not following the party line. Would you rather my son

not have married a single woman with 2 kids?”

We laughed about some other subjects, we grew pensive and

appreciative over our family unit that has a lot of good

qualities within it. I felt comforted and lifted up by

their presence in my life. My Mom was very witty, at times,

saying funny comments about men and women’s relationships

and politics. She also said she hoped we would stay out

long enough to see the Olympics. She expressed a wise

and simple thought, “Being the daughter of two immigrants

makes me especially proud to be an American!”

The lighting of the Olympic torch, with the ones who

were chosen to run with their own torches, moved us all.

The grand entrance with the Olympics’ theme music (or

Official Olympics’ Anthem) playing caught the table next

to ours, that had two little boys’attention, with bibs on,

eating a very late dinner!

We enjoyed the Swan Lake spectacle, the spinning dancers

with the beautiful music playing. We were very excited

when we saw the huge gathering and parade of U.S. Olympic

team members, with our flag waving. We thought the U.S.

(we don’t know what her name was but we called her this)

“Ice Angel” leading with her appearance of being a living

Statue of Liberty was very nice part of the group.

Mom and I got up early on Saturday, to get her grocery

shopping at Giant Eagle (also located at Crocker Park)

completed. The regular list always includes a certain

amount of chocolate, which had to be ‘amped up’ due to

her making bags for all the servers, mostly teens, in

the dining room. (There are about 25 different teens,

some who start with the breakfast serving and others

who run the café or dinner serving.) All have been part

of my Mom’s “emotional and well being therapy.” It is

about two full years of being at the senior living apts.

We also had to buy some Sangria, sharp cheddar cheese

and wheat crackers. We lingered around the Valentine’s

Day decorations and she was very happy that I had chosen

a singing dog, which is white with red spots that pops

out of a pink Valentine’s Day box, to be on her decorative

shelf outside her door. I asked her if she wanted a wreath

but we finally decided that the red berry decorated one

that has vines and she had stuck a President’s Day flag

in it, was adequate decorating for her simple door and

shelf. We each purchased a box of the childrens’ valentines,

mine being wacky cats and dogs and hers being Mickey Mouse

themed.

While watching the exciting and exhilarating snowboarding

later in the afternoon, we were busily writing notes to

my grandchildren (her great’s, of course) along with some

for her neighbors. She was not up to the task of bagging

candy in huge amounts but said she had almost a week to

go, and not to worry about her getting it done. We held

our breath when Sage Kotsenburg did his fantastic and very

artistic snowboarding run down the manmade slopes at Sochi.

We knew he had made it to Gold, before the scoreboard told

us, since his 4 1/2 rotations and magnificent flips were

just ‘mind blowing!’ Congratulations of the first Gold

medal for the U.S. team!

Later, after dinner, I think it was, we sat and watched,

Meryl Davis and Charlie White in their team ice dance

performance. It was part of the short dance skating

competition. Canada had a wonderful presentation, along

with France and Russia. We missed the others, having gone

to pick up our dinners “to go” from the dining room. It

consisted of chicken stir fry, mashed potatoes and

cheesecake. I liked the mushrooms, celery and carrots

in the stir fry and added more sweet and sour sauce from

Mom’s fridge.

My favorite part of the Meryl Davis and Charlie White part

was their loose and carefree style. It held tight turns,

precise movements but a commentator noticed this and called

their mood, “joie to vivre.” Their energy and passion shone.

Mom liked the fact they ‘danced/skated’ to “My Fair Lady.”

The two songs, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “I’m

Getting Married in the Morning” were woven into their

poetic performance. I also thought that Meryl’s pink

high necked fluffy, floating short gown was beautiful

and Charlie’s longer styled blonde hair and tuxedo

clad clothing was excellently chosen, as did Mom. We

did like the all black on another couple and the way

all the teams danced/skated so well. So far, Meryl

and Charlie have ‘won’ the first part of the competition

and hope that their great ease and graceful fluidity will

earn them an Olympic Gold medal also.

There is an upcoming part of the Olympics I am looking

forward to, which includes a young woman with roots in Ohio.

She has spunk, grit, shockingly bright red hair and an

indomitable spirit!

This would be Katie Uhlaender, a member of the U.S. team of

“skeleton athletes.” They slide head first on a track built

for bobsleds! Talk about taking your life into your hands!

Her father was Ted Uhlaender, who died on Feb. 12, 2009.

He played for and coached the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati

Reds. He was also the Columbus Clippers coach and manager.

When Katie was only 15 years old, she developed a crush on

the player named, Jim Thome. I heard about this man often during

the period of the early 2000’s. Katie was born in 1984, while

my youngest daughter, who was an Indians’ fan was born in 1985.

I remember my brothers saying Thome was a great player, but my

daughter called him, “hot.”

This memory comes to me, since I look at Katie’s bright red,

short styled hair and think that she is cool looking. She has

been through a lot, including the loss of her father. The many

obstacles include a 2009 snowmobiling accident that shattered

her kneecap. She also had to have hip corrective surgery in

2011. In last October, 2013, Katie suffered a concussion while

practicing her extremely difficult Olympics’ skill. She gave

a verbal explanation that was rather poetic, saying she has

made a ‘mosaic’ of putting shattered pieces together. Katie

has come in 6th and 8th in this years’ two training runs. She

had placed in 2006, before her father had passed away of a

heart attack, after a difficult time with cancer, #6 in the

World Olympics. In 2010, only one year after her Dad’s death,

she placed at the Olympics, 11th place overall. In 2012, she

won the World Championship of skeleton sledding. She has the

Silver and Bronze medals and now, is “Going for the Gold!”

On her person, during every competition, she wears a combination

of her father’s baseball card, his 1972 National Championship

ring, (when he played for Cincy. Reds’ baseball team) and a

bit of his ashes held in a small, silver baseball.

Katie says her father was a great supportive person in her

life, “He would give me this undeniable sense of purpose.

That’s what gives me the drive of a warrior.”

Look up on Thursday and Friday, (Feb. 13th and 14th) Olympics’

schedules to watch this motivated and courageous U.S. athlete

in her Skeleton Run Competition and hope she wins the Gold!