Archive for January, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

January 31, 2012

There was a faint woody perfume in the air this morning as I strolled up the long, but not winding, driveway to the mailbox. It foretold of warmth and comfort, belying the slight close stillness of the cold air that usually trumpets a winter storm. 

This just in: NJ Governor Chris Christie let a doozy of a barb fly when he referred to Assemblyman Reed Gusciora as a ‘numbnuts’ in his latest tirade against same-sex marriage here in the state.  So far, at least of this writing, I haven’t heard that he’s been asked to make a public apology, you know, like the ones someone might be forced into for making an off-color comment about Kim Kardashian or some football player for doing a victory dance in the end zone.

Speaking of NJ, last week, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has tried once again to have the lyrics to Rutgers University’s 139-year-old alma mater, “On The Banks of the Old Raritan” changed to reflect the attitude of the current times. She proposes, as she first did two years ago,  that words like “father” and “man” in the line “My father sent me to old Rutgers, and resolv’d that I should be a man” should be more gender-neutral. In 1914 the theme was made more subdued from a having hazing tone. In 1989, trying to be inclusive of the Newark and Camden campuses, an attempt of having “my boys’ changed to “my friends” never really caught on. This kind of reminds me of the time recently when there was a bill proposing changing the title of “Mother” and “Father” to “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”.  But I think Rutger’s bigger concern should be having the likes of a Snookie give the commencement speech at graduation. Just sayin’.

From the observation deck…and mind you it’s an independent study, I have yet to see a man in an aisle seat on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Given that the audience is made up mostly of women, that probability is rather diminished, unless of course it’s a spokesperson from some organization or other there to make some charitable contribution to one of Ellen’s varied and worthwhile causes.

And on that note…bye!

One, Two, Three….. Red Light

January 30, 2012

First, before I begin, I want to take a minute to thank my many friends for their well wishes on the passing of my father. It’s been just over a week but it seems like a lifetime ago. It felt like a lifetime had passed the following day; it was such a numbing reality. But thankfully I…we…were able to see him, and he us, before the end came.

So, in case you haven’t heard, Big Brother is getting closer and not so much prettier than ever. For one thing, Google is now tracking every move you make online when you use any of their services from searching for baby formula to emailing your next door neighbor on your Gmail account. They say it’s to customize your online experience. To me, it’s a fine line between a question and the answer in their FAQ page. Question: Is Google collecting information about me? Answer: No…Our new policy simply makes it clear that when you’re signed in [on any Google service] we use the data to refine and improve your experience… To me, that’s more or less the same thing. Of course, you can control how much info is collected by not using any Google service.

Then, in East Orange, NJ, the police are installing pre-emptive (pre-crime) red lights which scan the streets of that fair city for would-be criminals to stop their dastardly deeds before they happen. Imagine the poor unsuspecting oaf who might have dropped his wallet getting out of his car…oh, wait, let’s make it more adorable situation and say he’s rescuing a poor frightened furry kitty from underneath his car while at the same time a seemingly defenseless woman is walking by. Naturally, the on-duty remote officer or officers washing down the last bit of stale donut with a swig of cold coffee as they ready they themselves to advance on this perceived crime of mugging. The cost of these lights is $7,200 a piece.

So now we have Google watching you in your house or on your phone, cameras watching you go through toll booths, cameras watching you go through intersections, cameras clocking your speed on the highway, cameras watching you just standing on the street. Before long someone will come up with a device that can monitor your every thought so people can be reprimanded for making stereotypical comments about police and donuts. Whoops.

Now We’re In The SOPA

January 19, 2012

Gosh, it’s Thursday already. It’s been a roller coaster of a week (on a personal level) and just like that it got to be almost the weekend. But something is in the works that I wanted to share with you.

Sopa, if you’re not aware, is Spanish for soup, as in now we’re in the soup. SOPA, if you’re not aware is an acronym for Stop Online Piracy Act. If this bill passes, what you or I can do online will become a whole lot different. I probably will not be able to post pictures or videos I find on the internet other that what I create myself.  All that file sharing is things that are available to, well, share and to help punch up not only my blog, but blogs in general that want to just entertain or bring across a point of view.

PIPA, a sister bill to SOPA is the idea that would give the government power to block access to sites that corporations don’t like, cutting sites off from making donations or payments or even advertising. and threaten sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

The movement seems to have stemmed from Hollywood movie studios intent on stopping the piracy of their films. Well, if they weren’t on there in the first place….  But the bill could also domino down and effect everyone who networks socially online.

Should SOPA/PIPA pass in the vote on January 24, sites such as the host of this blog, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube could be shut down if the practice of posting copyrighted pictures persists. The whole idea of blogging or Facebooking is connecting with society on issues, sharing common interests or otherwise just entertaining, so there would be no videos of cats and birds being insanely adorable, or watching  Richard, aka Bighead and Johnny, aka 10 Gauge from North Carolina selling furniture to white people and black people, Expanics… and all people.

One way I read of keeping track is to assign each Internet user an ID number and any “illegal” activity can be tracked back to that user, but, and I might be ignorant in this, but doesn’t each computer already have an IP (Internet Protocol) address?

So now, along with s saying yes to the smoking ban like a herd of sheep (oh, my clothes won’t smell at the end of the night), to saying yes, we must wear a helmet to ride a bike (I’m 51 years old, have fallen off my bike numerous times as a kid…hmm…never mind) and yes, we must buckle up and put kids in a booster seat until the age of 21 or for life if he’s really short). Yes, we can’t eat runny eggs, yes we can’t have too much coffee… NO, we don’t have to say yes to censorship. It’s time we can make a stand and vote against this bill.  I support the opposition and that’s why the “stop censorship” ribbon is on this page.

Click here and fill out the quick form if you feel the same way. I did.

And here, before it’s too late:

Oh, yeah, and some theatergoers have requested refunds when they realized The Artist is a silent movie.

One Life To Live…Forever.

January 13, 2012

Today is the final episode of One Life to Live. It’s been an emotional week, and I have been awash in tears, I’m just not ready for this day. Thankfully the terror of one possible ending that began with last Thursday’s episode has been reversed, because losing our heroine would not have been acceptable, but yet we must prepare for an ending nonetheless. And now, as the Kleenex piles up around us all, we must bid farewell to Llanview and to “friends” and “family” we’ve known over 40 years.

Why all the fuss over a soap opera?  If you’re a soap fan you already know the answer. But how do I describe it to those who aren’t in a few short lines? Compare it to the feeling you might get at the end of a really good engaging book. It leaves you wanting more, except this “book” keeps on telling a story. Or like a good friend; there’s a bond between you that exclusively you both understand. Soaps entertain, (with sometimes incredibly far-fetched stories), they inform, and can comfort in a subtle way with mirrored real-life situations, all without talking down to you or making you feel worthless and with words that don’t need to be bleeped out. It’s a moment of escape in a crazy manic world. It’s purely entertainment.

But the battle rages on to keep the shows alive, to find them a home, to get the rights to the shows back to Agnes Nixon. ABC especially, and Prospect Park, since now it’s thought they were nothing more than a smoke screen to keep us quiet, should put their claims to the test, that there is no audience left for the soaps and let Ms Nixon shop them around again to see if anyone bites. Since ABC wants to be out of the soap business what to they have to lose? They don’t want to be wrong and have someone else profit on something they know they could restructure and repackage and keep their audience.

So for now, as the hankies pile up around us all on this last day, all we can really do that would exhibit true homage to One Life to Live is to be thankful at all for the years we had, for the memories it gave us, for the conversations it struck up among friends who also watched, and to thank Agnes Nixon and to hope, perhaps against all odds, One Life to Live will resurface in the not too distant future.

 

Between One Life to Live & Hell, 1…

January 12, 2012

April 14, 2011, a date that will forever be etched into minds of  One Life to Live and All My Children fans was the day ABC announced the cancellation of both soaps; All My Children went off the air this past September, and One Life to Live, which was slated to “sunset”, as the press release so poetically referred to it, as though that would take the sting out of it, on January 20, 2012.

The reason given was because research showed viewers no longer had time to sit for an hour for fiction, but wanted informational shows instead. The truth was ABC/Disney, wanted out of the soap business and wanted shows that would cost a fraction to produce than the more expensive soaps, with loyal fan bases, both for well over 40 years. But they said that according to Nielsen ratings (an antiquated and useless ticking process since the advent of the VCR) there was no audience for the soaps.

I already stated in a previous blog this week that I was absent for 33 days in my senior year in high school and thankfully for the VCR, I was able to go out into the workforce and keep up with the story. I eventually even started packing the essential items (blank tapes, wires to make necessary connections on hotel room televisions equipt with VCR’s) when on vacations, so I wouldn’t have to wait a week or however long to get back home to play catch up. 

Within seconds of the announcement, which I happened to see as a post on Facebook by a one time Facebook friend, groups were assembled and fans mobilized sending emails of protest to network powers that be, local ABC affiliates, advertisers. A few days after the protests began, Hoover (Vacuum cleaners) Vice-president of marketing, Brian Kirkendall, announced it was pulling its ads from ABC daytime in their alliance with the fans. Finally, we were being heard. The battle raged on through the summer and commercials were beginning to be pop up for All My Children’s replacement, that hour-long talk/cooking show (I’ve never seen it, and will never watch it) helmed by some fat red-headed blowhard in orange Crocs who, when interviewed about the new show amid the objections by outraged soap fans, replied with “Get over it.” That quote came on the heels of the one made by Brian Frons, ABC/Disney Daytime President about the forthcoming shows that the viewers needed to be trained like dogs to accept his vision of the shows. That’s a lovely sentiment from an alleged family-oriented network to legions of loyal long-time fans of nearly half a century.  No audience indeed. They why all the “squawking” all over Facebook and other media outlets, calling the decision nothing less than boneheaded.

On July 7, 2011, a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel appeared. Production company, Prospect Park announced it would be leasing both All My Children and One Life to Live from ABC/D and presenting them in a new format…online. While we were concerned that many older viewers may not have access to a computer or other smart device, they’d be left out in the cold, but soon it was announced that plans were also in the works to bring the shows to a cable television channel and the soap groups’ hunt was on to find the shows a new home, emailing everyone and everyone to please Save Our Soaps. Unfortunately, it was reported that plans for All My Children fell through, citing Susan Lucci as the blame for holding out for more money and less working hours. But over at One Life to Live, 13 actors, including Erika Slezak who was among the first (see?, our heroine!) signed on to continue with Prospect Park and tied up storylines were ordered to be rewritten as cliffhangers to carry through until OLTL.2 made it’s online debut. Prospect Park was even leasing the studio that housed all the soap’s sets.

On November 18, 2011, One Life to Live taped its final episode for ABC which curiously morphed into January 13, a week shy of the original end date. Among those episodes was an homage from One Life to Live to its fans showcasing the  efforts in trying to save the show by canceling their soap within a soap, Fraternity Row and having its loyal viewers pull out all the stops in protest. It would be a touching and serio-comic thank you note to us.

Happy Holidays. On November 23, 2011, one day before Thanksgiving, Prospect Park suspended all its efforts in keeping One Life to Live going. Now, not only are we losing our show for the second time, but that neat little “sunset” ending that might have been, will now most likely keep us all hanging. Add to that the fact that we also got shortchanged by a week.

A real fine thank you to loyal fans, like myself, for the years we’ve invested in watching these iconic shows.

Between Heaven & One Life to Live, 2…

January 11, 2012

The Buchanan’s rode into town in the early ‘80’s with spurs a-jangling and dust rising up behind them and they forever changed the landscape of Llanview. Their history is a rich as One Life to Live itself and their wealth rivaled if not bettered that of the Lords’. They put down stakes and had no intention of ever leaving. And money married money, so to speak when Clint and Viki wed. And though there had been other husbands ever since, I think Viki’s heart was always with Clint.

Another scandal would rock Llanview years after Karen Wolek’s prostitution trial and that was Marty (the party girl) Saybrooke’s gang rape. She was attacked by a group of fraternity brothers the night of a party on campus and the attackers included Zak (a frat brother) Powell (a Lord cousin), Kevin Riley Buchanan (Viki’s son) and Todd Manning, (Viki’s half-brother). Again, in true soap opera fashion, Todd would become the misunderstood character we eventually came to hate and feel sympathy for at the same time, cheering him on when he tried to do good and deservedly booing and hissing him when he exhibited his unwavering unscrupulous ways of getting what he wanted.

But rape and prositution weren’t the only topics the denizens of Llanview tackled on a daily basis. Besides the basic infidelity, death and baby switching plotlines they also covered teenage pregnancy, corporate greed, kidnapping, incest, homosexuality, spousal abuse, child abuse, evangelism, mental illness, AIDS, prejudice, obesity, infertility, social diversity and bias and more recently, bullying. Then on the next day….

I mentioned Kevin above and that brought to mind which actor it was. There were numerous who stepped into Kevin’s shoes. Like in all soaps, actors are changed because the characters are sometimes being led in a different direction as storylines dictate. Other times, of course, actors leave when their contracts expire to move on to other projects.  And sadly replacements are needed when actors die. Some, well, one really, for some other reason that was later revisited in a moment of comic relief. Some changes are for the better making it nearly impossible to believe his or her predecessor could have made the same accomplishments in the role. And some characters we are just plain lucky enough to see grow up on the show.

Here are some of them:

  

  

 

 

Between Heaven and Hell, 3…

January 10, 2012

On July 26, 1976, a few days after the show’s 8 th year anniversary, One Life to Live was expanded from 30 minutes to 45. It seemed kind of silly, but we got an extra fifteen minutes of storytime. The only thing I can’t readily recall is if it shared the other 45 minutes with All My Children, or with General Hospital. I think it was General Hospital for some reason. I could be wrong.

You might be wondering about the significance of my blog title. Between Heaven and Hell was the original title of One Life to Live, when Agnes Nixon pitched the soap opera to ABC but fearing some controversy over it, the name was changed. She had full ownership of the show until December, 1974 when ABC bought all the stock in her Creative Horizons, Inc. And therein lies the rub. 

On January 16, 1978, One Live to Live was expanded to a full hour.

Life continued as it usually did in Llanview with the usual bumps and bruises along the way.  Like all neighborhoods, people leave and new ones move in bringing with them their own uniqueness and challenges and there have been so many colorful characters to grace the  One Life to Live canvas that it would be difficult to name them all. One of the more enjoyable characters to enter into the picture was Tina. Her initial innocent facade quickly faded when she realized  she stood to gain a fortune from her long lost family, The Lords, and she would stop at nothing to ensure her rightful place among them.  The little vixen pulled out all the stops and wreaked all kinds of havoc, with her greed and pettiness.  Really it was just her misguided way of wanting to be loved and to be somebody. And we loved her even though at times, she didn’t deserve it.

Perhaps the biggest scandal to hit town up to that time was when Karen Wolek quickly found herself in a heat of trouble and it all came to a dramatic head with Judith Light’s magnificent performance on the witness stand during Viki’s murder trial. I’ve told this story a hundred times and I’ll keep on telling it. I was in my senior year of high school and was truant for a total of 33 days. A lot of it revolved around this storyline and the day of all days for me to put in a guest appearance in class was the day of her bravura performance. Now, how do you figure?

I did see a clip of it years later when Reba McEntire hosted a series of best of shows during the O.J. Simpson trial era, and even with that little bit of the scene, it still had me riveted to my seat. Of course there’s this YouTube video as well,  but over New Year’s weekend SoapNet played 14 classic One Life To Live episodes and this was one of them. Once I get it committed to DVD, I’ll have it forever. In the meantime, if you want to watch the entire clip here, mind you it’s 9 and a half minutes long, it’s here for you. Or, you can start at the 4 minute mark until about the 8 minute mark if you want to get to the crux of the scene and you don’t have the time to spare.

Between Heaven and Hell, 4…

January 9, 2012

On July 15, 1968, the inhabitants of Llanview, Pennsylvania: The Riley’s; The Wolek’s; The Craig’s; The Siegels, the town’s first Jewish family; The Grays, the first African-American family in the neighborhood and the Lords, the wealthy newspaper family moved into our living rooms and into our hearts and have remained there for over forty-three years until recently, when they  received an untimely and unwarranted notice of eviction. Of course I’m talking about One Life to Live, the Agnes Nixon creation which emphasized ethnic and socioeconomic diversity which sadly comes to an end this Friday.

I’m not sure exactly when I first started watching but it was sometime before Erika Slezak took over the role of matriarch Victoria (Viki) Lord (Gordon, Riley, Burke, Riley, Buchanan, Buchanan, Carpenter, Davidson, Banks) and that was on March 17, 1971. It might have been the original actress, Gillian Spencer, or Joanne Dorian who took over briefly from late in 1970 until the following March.

What I vividly remember was seeing someone called Niki Smith, a sassy party girl who looked exactly like the proper well-mannered Viki. At times someone would call her Viki and her response was usually a wicked shrill laugh and then exclaim that she’d sent Viki packing. It was because Viki suffered from multiple personality disorder, more recently known as dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Through the years we suffered along with Viki while she battled DID, which was a marvel to witness. In all, there were, oh man, at least 6 personalities (I should know this; Viki, Niki, Tori, Jean, Princess, Tommy) and with just the subtlest change of  facial expression or with overall body language, it was evident which personality was present.   We also held our breath when Viki suffered a brain aneurysm, a stroke, breast cancer, a heart transplant. We felt her pain when she was widowed on several occasions and when she divorced. (Well, I never liked Steve anyway.) She lost siblings, she’s had children kidnaped and she lost a daughter to lupus. And in good old fashioned soap opera style, she had a few siblings waiting in the wings, namely the conniving Tina Clayton and the irascible Todd Manning, neither of whom we could ever get enough of. She became Llanview’s mayor. She was once accused of murder. And, once even committed murder… Actually it was one of her many alternate personalities (alters) who smothered her father decades before, which exonerated Dorian Cramer, who had been his doctor and eventual wife and had long been blamed for the elder Lord’s death. And best of all is that she was Viki’s lifelong archnemesis. And oh, what good times they were when Dorian and Viki went toe to toe on screen over anything Dorian felt like blaming on Viki…anything at all.

The storylines were vast and sometimes downright outrageous (think Eterna), but as long as six-time Daytime Emmy winner Slezak had a part in it, they were believable and enjoyable.

And we always knew Viki would make it through all her adversities. She had to. She was our heroine.  She was our rock. She was, and will always be, One Life to Live.

Strange Days Indeed

January 6, 2012

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. ~ Plutarch

The stats helper monkeys have been busy, so I’m told, putting together a personalized report on how my blog did in 2011. And since it’s because of you guys out there reading me, whether it’s every day or even once in a while (and you’re telling your friends, right?) I thought I’d share those findings.

First of all, the blog was viewed approximately 11,000 times in 2011. The monkeys say that it would take 4 sold out performances at the Sydney Opera House for that many people to see it. I had 148 new posts in 2011 and 256 new pictures. The busiest day of last year was January 26 with 243 views and the most popular post that day was “A Wednesday Smorgasbord” from July 28 when I posted about President Obozo visiting the Tastee Sub Shop in my hometown of Edison.

Most of the visits were prompted by my tags about Bugs Bunny. That was actually the day after his birthday. You found me from my website, Facebook, WordPress (the host of the blog), stumbleupon and squeerl and most of you were from the United States with some visitors from Canada and Australia…Australia?!… I also see pegs in South America, Europe and….is that Ireland? My top 5 commenters for 2011 were Melissa with 51, Donna with 15, Gary C. with 5, Help Save Our Soaps with 2 and Donna under another name with 2.

The top 5 posts that were viewed were: A Wednesday Smorgasbord, Never Forget 9/11/01-9/11/09, Like A Young Woman…Hey, We Have A Winner, and Samedi Gras.

Thank you all. I try to be entertaining. I try to be informative. I try to express my opinion, sometimes in a snarky sarcastic way. Most of the time I’m just rambling. It’s what I do normally anyway. And I plan on continuing and I hope you’re here with me (and your friends….ahem!)

In other news, Casey Anthony has a new laptop. “I finally have something I can call mine.”

Here’s something odd. You know it was super cold, in the low 20’s, for the last few days and by tomorrow, it’s supposed to be in the 50’s. Perfect weather for taking down Christmas. Huzzah! But it’s no secret the weather has just been wacked out all over the place. I mean, it’s been pretty much precipitating since last December 26, 3 days after our patio was completed and then this summer just seemed to rain non-stop. Well, whenever we had something planned outdoors or went camping, but that’s like putting jelly with peanut butter. Anyway, something caught my eye yesterday afternoon when I went to get my mail (I didn’t roll my ankle this time) and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

My daffodils are beginning to sprout. It is January 6, is it not?

Have a fun weekend everyone!

So You Think You Can Dream

January 5, 2012

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten. ~ B. F. Skinner

All of a sudden I feel like Thindy Brady this morning. I went to put some mail in the box and my one ankle felt sore. When I was coming back in, my foot rolled over something and my other ankle sort of twisted. I’m okay.

Last night, I had an interesting dream. It was quick so I’ll see if I can turn it into a lengthy dissertation…you know how I am. I was on a train back and from the clothes everyone was wearing it must have been turn of the century–19th to the 20th. Apparently, as far as I could tell, I was a groom. Right there you can tell it was a dream, but my supposed wife, was in a really spectacular gown; cinched at the waist like a wasp, big billowy shoulder things, skin tight arms with buttons all down the sleeves, a long lacy train. The scene opens with the train stopped in the middle of nowhere with nothing but grassy fields all around and we must have fought because she hurled the pitcher from a washbowl and pitcher set at me. I ducked and it flew through a narrow side door in the car. Everyone, wedding guests, I’m assuming, stood around laughing at the situation, or me, most likely.

I decided to retrieve the pitcher, but because I couldn’t squeeze through the same door, I would leap from the observation deck at the rear of the car (luckily we were in the last car of the train) and I went to jump over the railing, the train began to move and I went flying as though I had hurled myself from the Amtrak Acela. I stood up, dusted myself off as the train continued to slowly chug away as my unemotional “bride” and her party disappeared from view. Obviously the sense of loss was greater over the pitcher than of her because I smiled slightly when I cluthed it to my chest, seeing it had been undamaged in the melee.

I crossed the tracks and realized the second track bed had been dug up and all that was left was overturned old crusty earth. I continued up the slight hill and as I crested I could see I was in the park where I spent many a day in my youth and people were playing Frisbee and running around with their dogs and cars were everywhere. I walked on and suddenly another familiar sight came into view. I was on the hill at the campground.

That can only mean one thing… March needs to get here so we can make our camping reservations. What the train and pitcher had to do with anything… any guesses?

And real quick, in the world of entertainment… Producer Nigel Lythgoe has announced that due to lagging ratting for So You Think You Can Dance, Elimination Night will be discontinued. Viewers can still vote, but the guy and girl of the bottom six with the lowest votes will be eliminated at the beginning of the following week’s show. This will help eliminate the need to fill another hour-long show with all kinds of nonsense beyond the  few seconds of each of the contestants’ “dance for their lives” (which is the reason no one is tuning in). I can only hope other competition shows follow suit. But I like that idea and I like the fact that the Fox Network realized there was a problem and did something to correct it. Now if he would do the same for American Idol.

And, if only the d**kheads at ABC would have thought the same thing, we wouldn’t be losing our soaps. YES!!! I’m still on that!

Have a lovely day folks.