13 Juni 2008

JTS for The Twilight Zone

Never jumped; perhaps some of the videotaped episodes, which don't look as classic or elegant, and some of the hour-long episodes, which were often good but suffered from padding, constituted a stray fin or two poking out briefly, but no worse.

Since this was an anthology series, meaning that there was no single theme or cast of characters, some episodes were relative clunkers. Even those, however, were vastly more literate and engaging than most of the drivel produced today. Certainly, the bulk of the best episodes came in the first two or three seasons. The show was negatively affected [in 21st century "AmericaNinglish": "impacted"] by Serling's gradually declining interest, Beaumont's untimely death, and the usual network politics.

But even the last seasons produced some gems, including the famous final episode, "The Bewitching Pool" which depicted, so rare for this era, a bickering, unhappily married affluent couple who did not care for or even like their own children--a serious critique of consumerism and treacly notions of family values. When I look at TZ episodes today, I am amazed to see actors and actresses who, compared to the plastic supermodels who dominate today's screen, resemble real people, with imperfect teeth, baldness, pot bellies, small (i.e., normal) breasts, etc. Ironic, isn't it--this was a science fiction series, yet those who people its universe were not superheroes, glamorous, or James Bond figures, but rather ordinary people, clerks, housewives, the retired, children, eccentrics, small-time hoods ("Nervous Man in a Four-Dollar Room"), and so on. Instead of flattened-out California/Valley Girl accents, TZ featured the rich argot of many American regions and even countries.

It dealt seriously with war (both hot and Cold), fear, loneliness, technological advancement, death, hatred, racism (brilliantly, on several occasions), conformity ("Number Twelve Looks Just Like You"), religion, greed (think of "What You Need" and "The Rip van Winkle Caper")...the list is formidable.

Kudos to the 20-something poster who has discovered TZ. I'm a 42-year-old college instructor, and I'll never forget the dismay a couple of my contemporaries and I felt back in the 90's when we discovered that most people no longer knew of TZ, which had been a rerun staple while we early Gen-X folks were growing up.

Mein Akzent/My Accent

Genau wie ich vermutet habe, gleicht mein Akzent dem banalsten, am häufigsten hervortretenden amerikanischen, aus dem Mittelwest. (Gähnen) -- Exactly as I'd surmised, my accent is very close if not identical to the most banal, most frequently occurring American one, that of the Midwest. Yawn.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Total Weird Random Coincidence

Hugh Beaumont, the avuncular American actor who played Ward Cleaver on the archtypical 1950s television series Leave It to Beaver, and Talcott Parsons, an eminent American sociologist, both died in Munich while making routine trips there. Beaumont, who died in 1982 at the age of 73, was visiting his son, a professor of psychology, while Parsons was visiting Germany for professional reasons. Parsons died in 1979 at the age of 77. Interestingly, while Parsons's father had been a Congregationalist minister, Beaumont himself was an ordained Methodist minister. Let's see...what other facile comparisons might we make:

Both were born in the 1910s.
Both were white.
Both are largely forgotten.
Both were born in landlocked--and adjacent--states (Beaumont was born in Kansas, and Parsons in Colorado).
Both had sons in academia (Parsons's son Charles was an eminent professor of the philosophy of Mathematics).
Both wrote and published.

Too easy.

Traditional Linnaen Taxonomy

Random info. Just to keep it straight:

Phylum (or Division)

Und, natürlich auf Deutsch. (Hast du wirklich angenommen, dass du entkommen könntest?!)

Abteilung (oder Stamm)

Umso besser

Die Taxa:

Unterfamilie-Subfamilia-Echte Hunde
Gattung-Genus-Echte Füchse
Unterart-Subspecies-Japanischer Rotfuchs

$5 Gasoline?! Es macht mich nichts aus! Wirklich!!

Wenn mal mein Herz unglücklich liebt,
ist es vor kummer unsagbar betrübt.
Dann denk ich immer:
Ach, alles ist aus, ich bin so allein.
Wo ist ein Mensch, der mich versteht,
so hab ich manchmal voll Sehnsucht gefleht.
Ja aber dann gewöhnt ich mich dran und sah es ein:

Whenever my heart unhappily loves,
it's unspeakably laden with worry.
Then I always think:
Oh, everything is done for, I'm so alone.
Where is a human being who understands me?
I've often implored, full of yearning.
Yeah, well, then I dealt with it and really saw:


Davon geht die Welt nicht unter,
sieht man sie manchmal auch grau.
Einmal wird sie wieder bunter,
einmal wird sie wieder himmelblau.
Geht`s mal drüber und mal drunter,
wenn uns der Schädel auch raucht,
|: davon geht die Welt nicht unter,
die wird ja noch gebraucht. :|


That won't make the world come to an end,
sometimes it just looks gray.
Sometime it will become colorful again,
sometime things will be skyblue again.
If at times it goes up and down,
when we rack our brains over it,
|: That won't make the world come to end,
It'll still work out. :|

Geht dir einmal alles verkehrt,
scheint dir das Leben gar nichts mehr wert,
dann laß dir sagen:
Das ist zu ertragen, ja, hör auf mich.
Denkst du einmal: Ich kann nicht mehr,
kommen auch Stunden so glücklos und schwer,
ach, jedes Leid, das heilt mit der Zeit, darum sing wie ich:


If sometime everything goes wrong for you,
and this life seems no longer worth it,
then let yourself say:
That is to be borne, yes, listen to me.
If sometime you think: I can't take it anymore,
hour after hour comes so miserable and hard,
Oh, time heals all wounds, so that's why I sing:


08 Juni 2008

JTS For Cheers

Cheers never quite jumped, but fins did surface and the ramp-up loomed ominously. When they quit, they were still ahead, just. Remarkably, Norm and Cliff never got stale, and the resounding success of Frasier is proof positive that the latter character had plenty of potential still. Sam and Rebecca, on the other hand, didn't fare as well, because as the actors aged their relatively one-dimensional characters--Sam the sex hound, Rebecca the business-girl-turned-emotional-wreck-- began to lose vitality and appeal. Rebecca's hankering after Robin was amusing a couple of times, but grew tiresome fairly quickly; ditto for Woody and the rich girl --frankly, the way they snubbed Woody was disconcerting, even depressing to watch. Kelly's dad ought to have been a mite more appreciative--after all, Woody was a pliant, clean-cut boy, who would have done pretty much anything asked of him. His daughter wasn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed and she was lucky to have found someone decent with a similar level of dimwittedness. As one who knows a number of Lutherans, however, I must say that the gag about Woody and Kelly being of "different religions" was absolutely hilarious--her belonging to the ELCA (the more mainstream liberal branch) and Woody belonging to the Missouri synod branch (the reactionary one), that doesn't accept evolution, etc. Very clever. On the whole, however, Cheers maintained a very high quality, with some wonderful lines and gags: Woody tells Frasier, "Back home in Hanover, we don't talk about our feelings, we just lock it all in, push it down, deeper and deeper," in response to which Frasier remarks to Norm and Cliff, "Tick, tick..." "Yak, yak...Ma knows a lot about yaks." The Hungry Heifer, serving not beef, but "bif." "I was voted the girl most likely to marry into old money." Whitey the decomposing rodent... My favorite episode is one in which Norm creates his "Kreitzer" alter ego to goad his painting crew into getting some work done. I saw that one in German, and when "Norm" is yelling into the phone as the Kreitzer character, believe me, it's effective!

JTS for Fantasy Island

"De plaaaane! De plaaaane!" Ah, such fond memories. Which was more cloyingly saccharine, The Love Boat or this weirdness? The earlier poster was quite correct to remark that by making Tattoo silly and clownish, childish really, at the start of every episode, television forfeited an opportunity to cast a midget as a serious adult. Sadly, however, Tattoo's antics were one of the few things that made the show worth watching, similar to how many people tuned in to Carson just to watch the monologue. When FI dropped Tattoo's gags (was it pressure from the dwarf lobby? It'd be interesting to find out?), the producers didn't replace them with anything. Roarke would simply come out and say, "Good morning, Tattoo," and the two of them would settle into the rich Corinthian leather for the ride to the airstrip. The show began its rapid ramp-up at this juncture. On the other hand, one could persuasively argue that it was drivel from the start. The poster who commented that the fantasies were largely absurd is absolutely right. As George Carlin once remarked, if I could make myself anything, I wouldn't make myself a sandwich, but rather a horny, 18-year-old billionaire.

If Only Remedial Students Were Really Like That

"Am I the proverbial village schmendrick?"

--Arnold Horshack, in "One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Welcome Back, Kotter, Episode 1-19, February 5, 1976.