A World of Diff ‘tween “The” & “A”!

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After spending 460 days doing his talk show in locked down, pandemic necessitated isolation, Stephen Colbert made his grand re-entrance to NYC’s Ed Sullivan Theatre, last night, to perform before a live and in-person, full audience; all in attendance enjoying (relative) safety; thanks to everybody being fully vaxxed.

To have been an eyewitness to such a momentous occasion certainly did prove there’s a world of diff ‘tween “The” Late Show” and “A” Late Show (the latter rebranding had served as the subtle reminder that not all was (is) well in our homeland / home world).

Such a viewing experience (even from my own living room) proved the much needed mood elevator. So much so, I even managed to beat Mr. Colbert to the punch (punchline) of one of his jokes; namely this news clip enhanced wisecrack…

S.C.: President Biden’s trip abroad will end with his much anticipated showdown, on Wednesday, with Russian President (and cover model for Maritime Murders Monthly) Vladimir Putin. This meeting could be awkward ‘cause earlier this year Biden called Putin a ‘killer’. This weekend Putin was asked about his homicidal tendencies [clip rolls]…

Interviewer: Mr. President, are you a killer?
Putin: (chuckling menacingly) Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles; and from all kinds of areas; under all kinds of pretexts and reasons; at a different caliber and fierceness; and none of it surprises me.

S.C. Punchline: Sooooo… uh… that’s a yes?

CBS Late Show • June 14, 2021

While both predictable Putin and his non-surprising, non-response (tossed word salad) proved a certifiable downer, to have been reminded that I can still think in a humorous vein also did me a world of good.

Analog recording Colbert’s first night back on Broadway, had been well worth the twenty minutes spent [1] hunting down an old (suitable for tape-over) VHS cassette and [2] another five minutes taken to reconfigure the wiring of the hodgepodge of my aged and ailing video gear.

While I’m certain that for Colbert / his entire staff, their reclamation of their Late Show studio / stage has been reward enough, I don’t believe that goes far enough.

Seeing how each and every one of these role models / morale boosters have so valiantly soldiered on throughout the pandemic, at the very least, President Biden should pin medals on these civilians’ uniforms.

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Of Wee Value, Wee Hours TV

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Introduction: TV broadcasters are either wise or otherwise. If you are the former, you have my praise. If you are the latter you have my pity. Anyway, the following blog is meant for both TV workers and watchers and, for the most part, does not speak well of the otherwise and their of wee value, wee hours TV programming. Enjoy?

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To hearken back to my earliest TV viewing experiences (starting c1958), by and large, this was the era of level-headed, well-meaning broadcasters, who were still innovating / inventing their content on the fly; their sensible broadcast day’s schedule running (approximately) from sunrise to midnight.

Yep, upon the arrival of folklore’s witching hour (or, if you’d rather, the devil’s hour), TV station managers either opted for the Test Pattern and Tones motif or, upon pulling the transmitter plug, went the Analog Snow Blizzard route; as it were.

To sum up bygone TV in one word: Promising

In a few more words? This nascent medium was actually striving to provide entertaining, educational and ethical content. That Seal of Good Practice placard, which they frequently and proudly focused their bulky cameras onto, did stand for newscasts, which did strive for well-balanced news reportage and well-crafted dramatic / comedic narratives. True, such stories (be they presented by anchorpersons or actors), were known, at times, to feature bad guys, but, true to that Seal, they were never portrayed in the role of heroes.

Granted, especially advertisement-wise, such wisdom did not always prevail; e.g., commercials flat-out lying about the “harmlessness” of smoking tobacco; (hence the above italicized qualifying word “strive” and its derivative).

Anyway, last night, regrettably, I had neglected to press the “sleep” button on my TV remote. Hence, this early a.m. I found myself being (mis)guided back to consciousness by an unconscionable infomercial; one which, in a nanosecond, fortunately, went in one eyeball / eardrum and out the other.

Once my curiosity was wide awake, I channel surfed for a brief spell; soon confirming what I had already known; namely, inveterate, avaricious broadcasters can be counted on to cram-pack their post Devil’s Hour schedules with programming that’s worthwhile only to them; worthless to the vast majority of their viewers.

To sum up contemporary late night TV in one phrase: Promises Broken

Hell, once the devil’s hour nears, we can expect the barrage of infomercials to insult our intelligence and assault our sensibilities. What else can we expect from sponsors whose moral compasses frequently spin out of control; faster than their breakneck, sales pitch spin.

Deep down, most of these broadcasters know this business strategy is wrong. Why else would they precede infomercial presentations with disclaimers for the express purpose of disavowing their association with offensive sponsors and their shoddy wares?

You can bet your bottom dollar that there are legions of lawyers (ex-ambulance chasers?) on retainer; way behind the cameras; all burning the midnight oil; aimlessly scurrying and scampering around their underground war rooms; not unlike coked up, horny rats banging their blockheads against the cinder block walls; all the while striving to find the precise words and phrases to cleverly cover their boss’ considerable asses.

All of which doth beg a few questions:

  • Just how, pray tell, can infomercials, oft barren of entertainment, educational and ethical values ever live up to that bygone TV era’s Seal of Good Practice?
  • Would not TV viewers find yesteryear’s Test Patterns and Tones, maybe even that very, Analog Snow Blizzard far, Far, FAR more compelling than infomercials?
  • Would it not be financially advantageous for broadcasters to simply pull their transmitter plugs at the devil’s hour? (Doncha think burning up fewer kilowatt hours, alone, could compensate for lost, ill-gotten revenue?)
  • How can broadcasters even sleep at night when they simultaneously disown sponsors, yet, regularly air out their stinky ads over the transmitter airwaves, ANYWAY?

All things considered, I know I’ll sleep much more soundly if, from now on, I make a conscious effort to avoid the rude awakening of TV infomercials; i.e., by always remembering to engage my TV remote’s “sleep” button prior to my zonking out.

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Regurgitating An Apt Analogy

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In the wee hours of 01/21/21, NBC-TV’s Late Night host, Seth Meyers, via his always-tell-it-like-it-is exposé, A Closer Look, successfully articulated the mixed emotions that most critical thinkers have been experiencing while attempting to assess the nascent, post Trump tableau.

Said Seth…

“Even amid this moment of collective relief, the nation is still in the midst of several unprecedented calamities; none of which will magically disappear anytime soon. It’s a little like getting rid of the last guy at a party; you’ve spent four years yawning and stretching and hinting that he should get out, and, when he finally leaves, it IS a relief; until you remember you still have to clean up all his puke; and he, like, puked everywhere!”

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“Forever in our hearts, always our inspiration.”

Last evening, Alex Trebek’s five, yet to be shown, final Jeopardy! episodes, taped mere days prior to his demise, began playing out. This transcendental episode (originally slated to air on December 21, 2020) began with his opening, impromptu, soul searching, holiday message:

“You’ll recall that about a month ago, I asked all of you to take a moment to give thanks for all of the blessings that you enjoy in your lives. Now, today, a different kind of message. This is the season of giving. I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones. But today, I’d like you to go one step further. I’d like you to open up your hands and open up your hearts to those who are still suffering because of COVID-19. People who are suffering through no fault of their own. We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society and if we all pitch in, just a little bit, we’re gonna get there.” [Watch Clip/Read More]

Alex Trebek • Air Date: January 4, 2021

If humanity is paying attention, such much needed wisdom will resonate and endure long after Alex’s final Final Jeopardy!, come Friday.

By next Monday, a series of select host candidates will begin auditioning to determine who, amongst the 7.8 billion of us, might come close to filling Trebek’s size infinity shoes.

Let’s hope that his successor will know, instinctively, that Alex is irreplaceable; may sense a momentary “blinding” by the aura / afterimage of his brilliance; perhaps even feel somewhat haunted by him while making each entrance onto the Jeopardy! stage.

Should the eventual new host be lacking such qualities, it’d be fair to suspect that (s)he has been miscast. And, so long as I’m hinting at this, anyway, let me add that the time is ripe for a game show, of this stature, to break the glass ceiling; namely, the Sony Pictures Television production company execs should select a savvy, suave woman to preside over the game.

Returning, now, to the rolling of last night’s closing credits…

For a fleeting moment, I had this wild notion; how great it’d be to rebroadcast the entire 36+ year run of Trebek’s Jeopardy!; perhaps, as an alternative to Pat Sajak’s / Vanna White’s Wheel of Fortune, which on most network schedules, precedes Jeopardy!

I’ve always found playing along with W of F’s contestants far less challenging and educational. Hey, don’t brand me an intellectual snob; my educational background, would rarely, if ever, crown me the Jeopardy! champion. Anyway, that’s not my point.

What is relevant, here, is that each episode of Jeopardy! serves as a teaching moment; can function as motivation for us to discover more about the world we don’t know. After all, we don’t stop learning until the day each of us takes our final breath. And for all we know, it may not end even then!

Of course, my aforementioned wish for that Trebek replay must remain just that. After all, the new host must be afforded the unencumbered opportunity to build upon Alex’s rock solid foundation. Most assuredly, he would’ve wanted it that way!

And that said, the show’s closing credits will sum up everything even better than I; namely, via their dedication to Alex Trebek:

“Forever in our hearts, always our inspiration.”

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“Dancing With The SARS” (SARS-CoV-2)

“A family of coronavirus particles (Timothée Chalamet, Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Lauren Holt) have a disagreement during a Christmas reunion.”

Clip and set-up quip courtesy of the Saturday Night Live YouTube Channel
Dec 13, 2020 • 173,658 views • Thumbs Up 10K / Thumbs Down 263

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SNL’s comic genious unmasks coronavirus’ ferociously communicable nature; from the pitiless pathogen’s perspective. View the clip above or, should playback issues ever arise, over @YouTube.

About all that’s left to be said…

Sure we can all laugh at the SNL cast’s superbly delivered oneliners and double entendres, BUT, seeing how, just yesterday, the COVID-19, stateside fatalities reached the 300,000 mark AND how that deadly disease has snuffed out over 1.6 million members of our human family, worldwide, we had all better get dead serious about observing the life saving pandemic protocols re good hand hygiene, social distancing / isolating and, last but far from least, MASKING UP every time we go out in public!

“We know that if everyone, or if we could even get 95% of the people let’s say to mask up for a 90-day period, three months, we could cut the death rate by about 200,000 Americans.”

CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida • Quote from Raetta Holdman‘s article posted December 7, 2020 at 2:58 pm • [Read More Here]

No one should even need to point out how saving lives is everyone’s moral and civic duty!

My gawd, we ARE all fully capable of outwitting a mindless microbe!

Let’s all get the last laugh at this nasty pathogen’s expense!

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SNL’s Perfect Comic Coda

“A dad’s (Beck Bennett) Christmas surprise to his family (Timothée Chalamet, Heidi Gardner) isn’t received as he expected.”

Both Clip and set-up quip courtesy of the Saturday Night Live YouTube Channel
• Dec 12, 2020 • 130,174 views • Thumbs Up 8.8K • Thumbs Down 88

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Within a past post, I griped about the crassness of foaming at the mouth, dollar signs flashing in the eyeballs, mad, Madison Avenue admen.

To say the least:

For them to be marketing / huckstering high-end, bloated price-tagged vehicles during an economic downturn is the acme of insensitivity.

To say more:

“This IS 2020 after all! That godforsaken pandemic has been, literally, snuffing out lives and livelihoods. Average Janes and Joes are not making their rent / mortgage payments to keep roofs over their kitchen tables; are having a tough time paying their utility bills to “fire up” the requisite cook tops / ovens to prepare meals for said tables; are purchasing cheapo grub to toss into their cookware that’s being heated up by said contrivances.” [Read Full Post Here]

From my blog: “Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do?” • Nov 25, 2020 (9:33 am) • Likes 7

To say the most:

Watch the clip, above, or over @YouTube! SNL’s creative geniuses say it all!

Mega Thanks to SNL! Somebody, who can reach a vastly larger audience than I can, needed to unmask the tone deafness of that mad, Madison Avenue admen mentality.

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Life’s Simple Pleasures

My cherished recollections of holiday specific, family fun, undoubtedly, have been indelibly time stamped, 9 December 1965, by the radio and television transmissions, airing on that very day. Stepping into the ol’ time machine…

It had been shortly after our Thursday supper, when my Pop and I had driven off to our small town Michigan’s Mom and Pop grocery store. While he took care of the provisioning, I had wandered off to the 45rpm record display; with one and only one goal in mind.

I just had to snag myself a copy of the rock and roll instrumental, No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In) recorded by the T-Bones. This track had first been used within an Alka Seltzer television ad campaign and, next, minus all of the product hoopla, eventually got transmitted over radio stations, nationwide; in my neck of the woods, this (now) classic blasted out over CKLW Windsor / Detroit’s 50,000 watt energized airwaves.

After dad paid for the groceries and I forked over 98¢ for my new record, we headed for home. Once my Zenith monaural record player had spun my new disc (at least a half a dozen times)…

It was time for my family and I to gather in our living room to set up / decorate our Christmas tree. No sooner had our home taken on a far more festive ambience than my favorite comic strip, Peanuts, the brainchild of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, came to life via the CBS network’s debut of A Charlie Brown Christmas; all further enhanced and jazzed up by the Vince Guarldi Trio’s, by and large, instrumental soundtrack.

Returning to the here and now, all of my fond recollections are sure to continue playing out, throughout 9 December 2020, especially after tonight’s supper when, just for the symmetry of it all, I plan to rev up my CD player to track thru that vintage T-Bones track, set up my Christmas tree and, to top off the entire evening, pop into the VCR an ancient VHS tape to re-experience Schulz’s animated Christmas masterpiece.

Considering the past year’s events, which we all wish we could forget, memories of life’s simple pleasures do mean so much.

So much more!

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The Obama Book Reading Sketch

Ciip courtesy of the Jimmy Kimmel Live YouTube Channel
November 20, 2020 • 515,165 views

President Barack Obama, at present, is promoting his new book, A Promised Land. His interview, last night, with late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmell serves as a refreshing reminder of what it’s like to actually have a well-informed, open-minded, good-intentioned, law-abiding, self-effacing, down-to-Earth human being residing within and governing from the White House.

My above portrayal pretty much sums up why, to this very day, I’ve preserved Mr. Obama’s personally delivered, 2008 get-out-the-vote message on my landline’s answering machine; why I did my part to elect and re-elect him; why the election of his VP, Joe Biden, shows much promise. After eight years of working as a team, President-Elect Biden will have a wealth of experience to draw on. And, should additional advice ever be needed, he / we can rest assured that Mr. Obama will always be but a phone call away.

To set up our above clip, cued up to start at 21:49 (if all goes well), we’ll be viewing what I’ve titled “The Obama Book Reading Sketch”. Mr. Kimmel will further explain his novel idea to set the fun in motion.

Obviously, for any of you who’d like to view this positively enlightening and enjoyable interview, in its entirety, its but a rewind away.

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What is Not Final Jeopardy!

This will be my third post following Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s 11/08/20 merger with the universe. I’ve been attempting to put such a preoccupation into some sort of perspective. Beyond obviously missing him, here goes.

For 30 minutes, each weekday evening, we’ve found solace in observing this game show legend both displaying and presiding over intellectualism, levelheadedness, even-handedness, decency and normalcy. Alas, such righteous attributes (as vital as love, sustenance, water, oxygen, hearth and home) tend to get upstaged by every negative “ism” found within our shattered, shallow, contemporary society.

Transcending that, on a more personal note, it was during this game show’s early days, that my folks and I would gather around our living room TV to welcome Alex as we would another family member; to play along with the contestants, too. Even now, decades after my folks passed away, whenever I’m playing Jeopardy! in that very room, I can still sense their presence.

But let’s not get too far off topic. Let’s check out the Entertainment Tonight YouTube Channel blurb, to set up our first clip; as presented both above and offsite.

“ET spoke with ‘Jeopardy!’ executive producer Mike Richards on Sunday, following the death of the show’s long time host, Alex Trebek.”

Perhaps, the best tribute to Mr. Trebek is to mention how he would not let his iconic status go to his head. His good nature would prevail even when the inevitable, spare nothing, parodies of Jeopardy! surfaced. Whether he had directly participated in these comedy sketches, or not, he’d delight in, what in essence, was making light of himself. This gets amply showcased in our second clip featuring a Golden Girls episode. To set up this sendup, both below and offsite:

I’ve encoded this presentation to start at 6:01 (for further laughs, rewind to watch the show in it’s entirety). My apology re the technical anomalies. Believe it or not, this was the best of the three available uploads. Even so, our guffaws will rapidly make us forget the flaws. BTW, don’t miss Dorothy’s anti-Trump quip. Enjoy!

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From: Alex / To: Us All

Alex Trebek’s 36-year-long reign, as Jeopardy! host, came to an end, yesterday, when pancreatic cancer claimed his life. He was 80-years-young. Our condolences to his family and friends.

Even though his symptoms had tried to drag him down, he would not allow that. He managed to continue taping episodes up till the very end of October. Ergo, his LAST Jeopardy! is slated to air on December 25, 2020. And whether one is devout or agnostic, I know we’d readily agree that Alex could not have given us a more thoughtful, precious holiday present!

As for Alex’s FIRST Jeopardy!, that gets backdated to September 10, 1984. Seeing how I had been working lots of nights back then, I never got the chance to watch his debut; did not become a regular viewer for the first couple of seasons.

And that’s precisely what made YouTuber Allan Di Real McCoy’s upload of that very first program extra special. In a heartbeat, I knew I had to SHARE IT with you, too!

And I found myself really getting into the spirit of the moment, too; so much so I played along with contestants Frank Selevan, Lois Feinstein and Greg Hopkins; even opted to keep my score on a legal pad. Going into Final Jeopardy! I had amassed $8,300 and with some gutsy wagering and, of course, coming up with the correct answer (in the form of a question), I kinda / sorta wound up the first Jeopardy! champion.

Of course, the qualifying words, “kinda / sorta” must be in play, here. After all, the ONLY way I could’ve ever “won” my $16,300 virtual grand prize was if my reflexes had allowed me to always be the first contestant to buzz in.

Perhaps, you, too, would like to match wits with Jeopardy’s first trio of competitors? Even if you choose not to tally up the virtual bucks, you can still bank on affable Alex Trebek presiding over fun times for all.

We, the vast legions of his forever fans, shall always miss this great man and game show legend.

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