greatbear: (blackness)
I was really saddened to read actress Jean Stapleton had died. Of course, she's most famous for her role as Edith Bunker, wife of America's most favorite bigot, Archie Bunker, in the series All In The Family. Her character was the perfect spoil for Archie, her seemingly limitless ability to know and do the right thing always came from the heart. AITF was must-see TV for me when it first aired, despite my relative youth at the time, I knew I was seeing something incredible on the small screen. Issues and controversy was examined in nearly every episode, be it politics, religion, homosexuality and gay rights, racial relations, you name it. Ms. Stapleton's portrayal of Edith allowed so many people to relate with her, she was Everyperson's aunt, grandma, mother. In the end, Archie would come to see that week's error of his ways, most often with Edith's heartfelt help. If I see the show in reruns while surfing channels, I always stop. I remember all those episodes, some practically word-for-word.

I also remember this scene, from 1980. I bawled my eyes out.

As "edgy" as television is considered these days, a show like this couldn't be made now. Too many people would get "offended" I'm sure. I feel fortunate that Norman Lear was able to completely destroy the boundaries of stuffy television series values and give us a show that not only changed television forever, but countless hearts and minds as well.

RIP, Jean Stapleton, and thanks for some of the fondest memories of my earlier days.

Superb owl

Feb. 4th, 2013 03:32 pm
greatbear: (Default)
These days I have more of an interest in football than I ever had prior, thanks to Jeff. Any time his beloved Cowboys or Penn State are on TV, he's there yelling at the set. He had warned me of becoming a "football widow" during the season, but rather than trying to beat 'em, I joined 'em, as it were. Jeff dutifully answered my questions regarding the finer points of the game, along with the not-so serious ones ("Why is it called 'football' when they rarely use their feet and it's not technically a ball?") and in no time I started getting pulled into the action. I would often watch the Super Bowl throughout the years just for the spectacle of it; it would occasionally fall on my birthday weekend like this year. The programming preceding the game often shows the personal side of the game as it relates to player, coaches and whatnot, this adds to the human side of the game, reminding me that it is not just all about the game itself. Stories like that of O. J. Brigance, former Ravens linebacker (as well as linebacker from the defunct CFL Baltimore Stallions) stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) who, despite the advanced stages of the disease is still active with the team as Director of Player Development. It was a touching story, made even more so at the end of the game when they dedicated their win to him. The win was also a huge one for Baltimore, which, after years of mediocre activity of their major sports teams, economic issues and so on, have been buoyed recently by improving economic conditions, an almost-World Series from the Orioles, a successful Grand Prix that will be held again this year, and lots of external good will. It is easy for me to dismiss the success of a city's team, especially when I hear of rioting and destruction in the wake of a major win. No, the effect is real, with local businesses doing well, folks upbeat for more than just a winning team, and lots of positive benefits for the city and the people as a whole. Sure there will always be negatives, but even seeing the old folks wearing team colors in public along with the very young, brings smiles to faces.

Of course, the big draw of Super Bowl Sunday, for some even more than the game, is the commercials. Those who know me well are aware of my love/hate relationship with advertising. Yes, there is more hate than love, as I see advertising a parasitic relationship with the environment and most times quite dishonest. Super Bowl Sunday, however, is a time when advertisers pull out the stops to make some really good commercials, often with the actual product being secondary to the overall message. No one does this better than Budweiser with their ongoing series of ads featuring the trademark Clydesdale horses. These have always been very entertaining and some quite moving. I really fell in love with the ads when the Dalmatian was brought on board, and recent years have made the ads something I look forward to even more than favorite movie sequels. This year didn't disappoint. I dare the viewer not to get even slightly misty-eyed at this one:

Anyone who knows horses can probably attest that this is not a far-fetched scenario (I'm looking at you, [ profile] badgerpdx).

The Big Game is over, Baltimore can hold its collective head a bit higher, along with the entire state of Maryland, and I can dote on Jeff as he goes through pangs of football withdrawal. :-)
greatbear: (zep runes)
I always make it a point to watch the annual Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts show bestowing the Kennedy Center Honors on very deserving and diverse individuals for their contributions to the performing arts world. This time, the honorees were prima ballerina Natalia Makarova, actor Dustin Hoffman, blues man Buddy Guy, late-night host David Letterman, and rockers Led Zeppelin. Aside from the obvious presence of the honorees, the roster of greats in the respective fields of the recipients is nothing short of incredible. The performances given to each of the honorees not only highlight the peak of each artists' careers, but the mutual respect between them and their peers is obvious and beautiful. This night was no exception. In fact, it was almost magical.

I sat myself in front of the television last night and let myself become completely wrapped up in the show. I had familiarity with all of the honorees, even Natalia Marakova, getting a bit choked up as a number of familiar dances were performed reminded me of Mom and her constant immersion in opera and ballet. I became giddy and amazed at all the performers, as they followed each other during the show. The performances given in honor of Buddy Guy were outstanding, with Jeff Beck and Beth Hart, Tracy Chapman and Bonnie Raitt bringing down the house. I could not wait to see what awaited Led Zeppelin, who were being inducted as a band and with Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones as individual artists.

Lenny Kravitz performed "Whole Lotta Love." The Foo Fighters did "Rock and Roll." Then Jason Bonham, son of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was called to the stage, and, well, I'll let the video speak for itself:

Yeah, color me blown away. I hope these videos aren't nuked by YouTube for some silly infringement bullshit. I saved my own local copies.

One more thing. Throughout the performances President Obama and First Lady Michelle are seen thoroughly enjoying each performance, either engaged in the speeches given both seriously and comedic, and completely into the music. They get it. I cannot for the life of me imagine a Mitt Romney and his wooden wife even pretending to enjoy the songs for the scary bluesman or those drugged out rockers. Stairway to Heaven? That'll be a minimum of ten percent of your salary, please. Thankfully, tonight was all about art (of all kinds) in excellence, mutual respect, and a whole lotta love.
greatbear: (Default)
This made my day. Mr. Rogers was a kind sort, his only agenda being one of learning, caring, fun, kindness and thinking. This "remix" is one he undoubtedly would have approved of highly.

Another thing that made my day: Sexy [ profile] theoctothorpe's birfday today!


Sep. 30th, 2011 01:04 am
greatbear: (Default)
Here's something to brighten up your Friday.

And another )
greatbear: (mike wazowski!)
During Tuesday's episode of Glee, among all the commercials for cell phones, cars, fast food and other silly sundries, an ad aired for Google Chrome (the web browser). It stood out not because it was an ad for a bit of software, but what can be done with it.

This is the first time I have seen the "It Gets Better" project hit mainstream television, outside of a talk show or something similar. It was touching and amazing to see it in this context. More ironic is the fact that Glee airs on the Fox network, where the dichotomy of rather progressive series programming stands in stark contrast to their idiotically right-leaning news and talk programming. Bravo to Google and Fox for bringing this commercial into the living room of millions.

G. A.

Dec. 7th, 2010 10:01 pm
greatbear: (Default)

Hello, my name is Phil, and I... uh... I'm, I'm a Gleek. *falls down sobbing*

(Fellow Gleeks) There, there, it's okay, it's okay!

Okay, I'm a latecomer to the series, and did not think I could ever get involved in this TV show. I figured it was nothing but an excuse for current-day pop music and inane teen drama. After having several people, also ones I would not expect to like the show, tell me to give it a try, I did. Actually both Jeff and I started watching, and it has become a fun spot on our Monday night, along with the insanity of the show that follows it, "Raising Hope." The show is silly and fun, but has a heart. Guest stars show up but most often play a part completely opposite of their actual persona. The music is varied and well produced (especially for a television series), and the show is not afraid to tackle current issues, stereotypes and notable events. One just has to suspend disbelief when starting to watch, and just sit back and enjoy the music as well as the breadth of characters.

Yeah, I got hooked, and I'm not ashamed.

Do as I say

Nov. 4th, 2010 11:07 pm
greatbear: (mike wazowski!)
Can what we hear be determined by what we are seeing at the time? Definitely. Called the McGurk Effect, situations can arise where one's perception of a sound changes if certain visual cues conflict with what we are hearing at that instant. This clip from the BBC show Horizon demonstrates this simply, yet very effectively. Keep your ears and eyes open for this one:

Ain't that some shit? This also explains why I get a headache watching Godzilla movies and get driven crazy when the audio and video are not synced when watching programs or clips.
greatbear: (Default)
It's the season when I become a "football widow" as Jeff becomes glued to the various college and pro games on the telly. Of course I join him now and again (hell, ya can't beat 'em, right?). We saw this commercial for the first time and could not figure out what it was for until the very end. We both thought it was cool. Not to mention thought provoking. And cute.

Oh, Blanche

Jun. 3rd, 2010 11:57 am
greatbear: (candle)

Rue McClanahan
February 20, 1934 – June 3, 2010

Actress Rue McClanahan has died. She was 76. As [ profile] gotmoof says, there's only one Golden Girl left. May she shine for a long time.
greatbear: (forearms)
This makes me want to go and have a Big Mac. Actually, the Angus burgers are much better.

This is a charming ad from France for McDonald's. Despite it airing only in France, this YouTube video had gotten well over a million views already (add one for you!) and is growing as word gets out by leaps and bounds. All is not sunshine, lollipops and rainbow-pooping unicorns, as the religious crazies, their right wing enablers (and their gay Quislings) are mounting campaigns against this ad over here. Same as it ever was.
greatbear: (Default)
The $impsons do Ke$ha! Let's see how long this lasts on teh YooToob.

greatbear: (dash face)
I'm posting this via the new (or shall I say, new-ish) home theater setup. Jeff and I picked up a new plasma teevee on Saturday, a 50 inch LG, full 1080p, lots of extras, but a dearth of direct inputs. For the time being, I have the home theater PC and the DVD/HDD recorder patched into it via the only two HDMI inputs, and the satellite box has to make do with the standard-def, low-res composite input. The latter picture sucks donkey ass, but will eventually be upgrades. Today's Cowboys/Redskins game was total awesomeness in HD, as Jeff nearly bonered upon seeing his favorite Cowboys best the 'Skins by a point. In between times I was able to pry him from the set, I futzed around with settings, connected gear and got my geekgasm going. HD YouTube vids look better than DVD quality and porn will be larger than life (not that I tried that. Yet.)

But with every such addition to the geek's arsenal of toys, there's the inevitable wave of upgrades and new stuff that has to follow right thereafter. Case in point, the old Analog Denon A/V receiver is worthless here. So, a new HDMI-switching receiver with multi-room capability is next, as is a set of front speakers, a sub, HD-capable satellite or cable, not to mention an articulating wall mount, requisite cabling, drilling and cutting holes in walls, etc, etc.

There goes my savings.
greatbear: (picture start)
This would be better using the Transporter series of movies. Since they are practically halfway there 'n all.

greatbear: (obviously gay)
Well, imagine that. American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert says that he's gay, ending any speculation by the two dozen or so people who are hopelessly clueless (and still have not figured out the Village People). Good on him. While many people had wished that he'd been more out front with his sexuality during the show, that's not the focus of the contest. Mentioned in the article, While Lambert is proud of his sexuality – "I embrace it," he says. "It's just another part of me" – he's focused on his career. "I'm trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader.", such sentiments to me are more in line with my thinking - I'm not defined by my sexuality either, I'm just an average dude with some unique traits, and I also happen to be gay. Not that being gay is so unique, really.

I credit Adam for piquing my interest in American Idol much more than it ever had been in the past. After hearing about his amazing talent as well as unusual interpretations of some old standards, I found I just had to hear what he'd come up with next, and just about every performance was off the hook. While some wanted him to be the winner of the contest, I think he's better off being second banana, he should not be nearly as boxed in by the demands of the A.I. producers and can essentially write his own ticket once he pays off his obligations to the show.

And maybe the band Queen has found their new, er, King. Or queen, as the case may be.
greatbear: (ha ha!)
Some serious developments in the music industry in recent days. If it's not long-standing players in the industry dying off or facing other dire situations, it's greed and monopolistic practices destined to kill the remaining bits.

First off, the oft-derided Muzak Corporation is filing for bankruptcy. Now, some out there might think this is not such a bad thing, preferring instead to take their elevator rides sans cheerful generic pop music done entirely in strings. But their reach goes beyond lifts, and the music spans the spectrum from headbanging to nodding off. Those of you who subscribe to Dish Network satellite television in the days before they carried the Sirius music channels were treated to several dozen channels of varied, totally uninterrupted music of every genre. These channels came courtesy of the Muzak Co. The thrash metal and thug rap might not have found a home in your average dentist's office, but if it had anything to do with music, Muzak would handle it. Also, the company was not without it's sense of humor. Known mostly for cheesy remakes of pop standards into instrumental string arrangements, they would occasionally slip remade versions of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the like into the music streams feeding shops and stores. This would completely fly over the heads of everyone, except for those who know the originals and 'get' the joke. If Muzak dies, a lot of Eastern Bloc radio orchestras will be down on work.

Speaking of Sirius, it seems that the newly-minted SiriusXM satellite radio conglomerate is also facing some serious financial dire straits. Let me be the first to say 'I told you so'. Take two competing companies, neither one able to operate in the black since their inception, and merge them into a single anti competitive entity. You end up with one company with twice the troubles. The satellite radio industry is buoyed by the sales of new cars and continuing subscriptions, neither of which is happening in this recessionary (depressionary) period. Sirius made the big mistake of hauling Howard Stern on board for the ridiculous sum of a half billion dollars. While this caused an initial uptake of subscribers, the math was not there. Stern, like so many people these days should take a pay cut in order to stay employed. I honestly feel that it's too late in the game for the satellite radio giant, since their combined force resulted in a lot of upset customers, and the increased price of subscriptions will drive off existing customers and keep new ones away. You just dont go around raising prices and cutting service on what is essentially a 'luxury' item during periods of slow economy. It's a sure-fire way of losing customers, both potential and existing.

Dish Network, a major holder of SiriusXM, has in the past put it's sights on Sirius. This can be a formidable threat in the near future as SiriusXM looks for any way out of the mess. But I feel the satellite TV industry is going to soon be hit with it's own desire to merge, if for all the wrong reasons.

We've all read about (and I have written about) how the major music labels are dodging coffins amongst decreased sales and alleged music piracy. The one bright spot held up by music fans, artists and promoters is the sales of concert tickets and live performances. This is about to take a hideous turn for the worst, at least in the U.S. as the two purveyors of live music, Ticketmaster and Live Nation, prepare to merge. This is some terrible news for music fans, since the combined conglomerate, to be called Live Nation Entertainment, will be the sole source for concert tickets to major venues and acts nationwide. The combined entity will be a vertically integrated business controlling venues, promotion, ticket sales and even recording deals with artists. How did this happen? Live Nation, once part of Clear Channel Communications (aka The Company That Ruined Radio) was primarily a concert venue owner and promoter. Ticketmaster, that company everyone loved to hate because of their penchant for tacking on exorbitant 'convenience fees' and other dubious charges onto ticket prices, was often the sole source for tickets to major (and not-so-major) live events. At one time, the two companies had begun 'competing' in ticket sales, but that was short lived. Turns out it was machinations leading towards this eventual merger.

Ticketmaster had in recent years began their own mass-scalping operation by redirecting people looking for popular shows to their wholly-owned ticket 'auction' site, TicketsNow, mere minutes after tickets would go on sale and were supposedly sold out. Tickets for sale at TicketsNow would often be three to ten times the face values of the original or box office tickets. Canadians have brought aboot their own half-billion dollar class action lawsuit as a result.

With all the financial and business shenanigans these two companies engaged in, it does not take much to know what the end result will be. Forget going to live shows of any major acts unless you do some serious saving, go into debt or are independently wealthy. This will only serve to take an already teetering music industry and send it over a cliff. Of course, it will all be blamed on file sharing. The only real solace will be found in the independent, small acts and clubs. Much like it was before music became an 'industry'.
greatbear: (blackness)
Paul Newman died today. I will miss him, as will countless others. He was truly a class act, on screen and off.

Paul Newman - 1925-2008
greatbear: (static)
Most people have no idea how a television set operates. Most of those people couldnt care less, just as long as it works properly. The theory and nuts & bolts functioning is beyond what most non-technical types understand. Well, I found a little video clip that offers an in-depth, easy-to-understand explanation of what goes on inside the box. You will be taken through the basics, plus a walk-through of the circuitry. You, dear reader, will come away from this little seminar knowing more about the workings of a television set than you probably bargained for.

Just who is it out there that has a grasp of things techy and electronic and the ability to impart such knowledge in an easily understood fashion? Well, none other than Björk.

Make sense now?

Um, fierce?

Apr. 8th, 2008 03:03 pm
greatbear: (forearms)
Note to Bravo TV: You. Are. Out.

In a move that is sure to cause ripples across a sizable portion of my friends list, it seems that the hit TV show Project Runway is leaving the Bravo channel for it's new home on Lifetime. Now, my fashion sense extends barely beyond jeans, t-shirts and plaid flannel, and I know absolutely nothing about the fashion industry, but I have to say, I find PR absolutely fascinating. I cant put my finger on why, but I guess it has to do with following something I am totally clueless about to see how the final product happens. I can follow automotive design from start to finish, I have extensive knowledge of analog and digital circuit design, I can build a house starting from blank blueprints to hanging the last picture, but clothing design? Fugheddaboutit. The combination of the collection of varied contestants, the flow of the series and the modeling of the designs at the end of each show just fascinates me. Or maybe it's in my gay genes. I dont know.

Lifetime will have a giant hit on it's hands with this one. It seems that most people I know who watch PR just in passing will usually gain a greater interest in it more often than not, and if the show continues with the same production values, crew, and Tim Gunn, it's sure to keep gaining viewers. Still, I thought Bravo was the best home for it, as their lineup of programming was as eclectic as the designers in a typical PR season. Being on Lifetime will probably label the show as something girly (or gay), which it's not. Oh well, lets hope that lifetime can (wait for it) make it work.
greatbear: (forearms)
I know a few on my friends list are a fan of the show Dirty Jobs and/or the host, Mike Rowe. Now, I barely caught the end of an episode, and it looked kinda fun, and at the same time, sort of educational. But that is not the point of this post. You see, Mike Rowe has shown up in teevee land in so many places, around here he had a local real estate-type of program that showcased homes for sale around the area. He's done a lot (and by that, I mean a lot) of commercials hawking anything from lawyers to car dealerships and more. Now he has finally settled into a series of sorts and the is the star. He gets to show to the viewers what it is like doing some of the nastiest, smelliest, most vile jobs on the planet that cannot be avoided. To that end, by the end of just about every show, he's pretty much a mess.

But that still isn't the point of this post.

Let's face it. Mike Rowe has achieved someone of of idol status among segments of the gay community, mainly because of this show. The situations he finds himself in on the show often have him messy, shirtless, sweaty, etc. Couple that with his deep voice, rugged features, body hair and decent build and it's swoon city for some of you guys. He has a large male fan base. Which brings me to Exhibit A:

Next stop, the corner of Ambiguity Drive and Mixed Signals Boulevard.

Given some details, with Mike being a 45 year old single guy, lives in San Fran, has had a career as an opera singer among other arts and stage stuff, etc, what is your take? A reactionist might immediately play the homophobia card. Others (like me) can see a bit of tongue-in-cheek 'protesteth too much' humor. After all, he's getting a 'man crush' fanmail message from a straight guy. A straight guy with the take-it-two-ways handle of 'FatBoyRider' (Note that a "Fat Boy" is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle model). And his choice of words at the end just screams double entendre.

Whatchoo people think of this one?


greatbear: (Default)

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