Posted in Political, Televison, Uncategorized

All In The Family…Guy

1all15Toned down for American primetime, All in the Family still managed to rock TV land.

Based on the controversial BBC series, Till Death Us Do Part (created by Johnny Speight) and warmed up with The Honeymooners and The Flintstones, nothing had prepared us for Archie Bunker (played by the apparently sweet Carroll O’Connor).1all17

Archie was a complicated guy.
Clearly bigoted and uncouth, he was also honest and hard-working, often expressing opinions people were thinking, but couldn’t go against the politically correct times to say.
He was also an excellent way to hold a mirror up to bigotry and prejudice without shoving it down people’s throats.

This show rammed through contentious and taboo subjects, including but not limited to: racism, homosexuality, rape, miscarriage, abortion, women’s liberation, menopause, breast cancer, impotence, the Vietnam War and more.

Archie was a scared man. His comfy chair world had been turned on its head.
He knew his place and everyone else knew their place. Until they didn’t.
Archie didn’t understand why everything he felt was right in the world, especially his world, had to change.

His long-suffering wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) was patient in ways no one, including their daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers) could understand. Despite their many issues, it was clear they all loved each other deeply.

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Gloria’s hippie husband, Mike/Meathead (Rob Reiner) highlighted the clash between The Greatest Generation (Archie as a WWII vet) and Baby Boomers, the struggle between the old guard and young people who wanted to change the world…Archie’s snug little world.

1all13And then there were the spinoffs. The Jeffersons  movin’ on up to the East Side.
Edith’s cousin, Maude (the incomparable Bea Arthur) visiting then getting a hilarious spinoff. And Good Times was a dy-no-mite spinoff from Maude. And more…

Taped in multi-camera format in front of a live studio audience, All in the Family never failed to break new ground.
I loved that they never used canned laughter. I’d prefer not to hear any laughter, but if I must, let it be genuine.

Family Guy pays tribute to All in the Family with its opening sequence of Lois and Peter playing the piano, and various other similarities…then again, the whole show is a pop culture fart. Of course, they’ve taken it much further, boldly going where even TV censors, after dying of exhaustion, knew they could go.

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American Dad! (created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker, and Matt Weitzman) is an absurd animated emulation, though since the All in the Family players were more caricatures than characters, it makes sense. And they added Roger and Klaus; who can complain?1all2

All in the Family and its official and unofficial offspring influence so many; although, looking around the world today, I think a lot of the messages are being missed, or misinterpreted.

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Posted in Books, Movies, Uncategorized

1…2…A Million Ways To Die In The West

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There is nothing in this film that will cure cancer…solve world hunger…bring about world peace. But it can make you laugh and isn’t that always a step in the right direction?

I’d like to formally apologize to those who had to be in the same theater with me while I was watching it; I like to laugh and this did it for me, big time.

The odd part was there was a disproportionate amount of older people in the theater, as in well over 60, even 70 and they were laughing, a lot. Sadly they also talk a lot during movies and tend to do so loudly. ‘What’s that, what did he say? Did he say Stephen Foster? Didn’t he do a lot of songs in our day?’ Geez, how old were those people? But they did laugh hardest at the naughtier parts. Cool.

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Seth MacFarlane is a savant with voice work, really, a wonder to listen to. I find him hilarious, twisted, conscientious, brilliant, creative, cute as a button, although arguably not an actor with a wide range, but who knows what the future brings.

I think surrounding yourself with talent like Neil Patrick Harris, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Amanda Seyfried, Rex Linn, etc. helps in some respects, but also shines a spotlight. Yet for me, MacFarlane‘s enthusiasm for his subject matter and his stunning comedic skills override any drawbacks.

Obviously meant to pay homage to old Westerns and Blazing Saddles and just as unrealistic. Where Brooks trail-blazed, MacFarlane and fellow writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild have to do some rehash slinging slashing. You’d think relentlessly infantile would get old yet, no, fresh as a well-placed daisy. And Brooks was doing all this before MacFarlane and friends were even born…I think this will one day be seen as a classic.

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The best bit for me was definitely MacFarlane‘s diatribe about how people die in the Old West. I don’t know if this was intended, but it made me think of all the ways to die now that they didn’t have then. WiFi waves, cars (worse than that, drivers), Ebola, MERS, SARS, Avian/bird flu, AIDS, GMOs, asteroids (sure, the video game as well), planes, weapons of mass destruction, plastic islands in the ocean, pollution, ozone depletion, and lucky for us, still guns and corrupt politicians, some things never change…

As for the bored part, look what we have and people still say they’re bored. I guess life isn’t necessarily better, just different.

Too many funny moments without reciting the whole movie which sadly I can probably do.

Here’s a link to my review of the book cause I feel like I’m having a moment of deja vu… https://yadadarcyyada.com/2014/03/10/a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-west/

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As with all MacFarlane works there were some messages hidden among the endlessly silly filth…

  • Don’t keep chasing someone who doesn’t love you for you. Relationships should be reciprocal.

  • Brains can win the day. So can poison.

  • And it’s our expectations of any time or place that shape our enjoyment, for however long we have.

I love the anachronisms and the contemporary feel of this, it adds layers to an already riotously rootin’ tootin’ good time.

See if you can pick out Ryan Reynolds and Jamie Foxx in their brief, but overtly shining moments in ye olde limelight. And Christopher Lloyd was pure Christopher LloydGreat Scot!

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Patrick Stewart voicing the sheep was hilarious. What a trip!

I think I’ll have the Moustache song in my head forever, gee, thanks. Even catchier than A Million Ways To Die by Alan Jackson and that’s sayin’ somethin’.

Even as it was ending I was thinking, again! again!

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People die at the Fair…

Posted in Books, Movies, Uncategorized

A Million Ways to Die in the West

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This is a light snack with a long title.

Not going to change the world, but it did brighten mine.

Found myself laughing out loud as I read this at the bookstore. Yes, that’s where I read this. As much as I enjoy MacFarlane’s work paying close to $30 for a book or almost $20 for an ebook (yes, I live in Canada where we have Universal Healthcare, but pay more for everything else) isn’t in my Broke and Obscure budget.

Adapted from the screenplay (written by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild), this comical jawin’ ya to death of the Old West is chock-full of anachronisms and absurdity including, but not limited to: the fake fight scene; the prostitute girlfriend who won’t have sex (not with her boyfriend anyway) because she’s saving herself for marriage; a Parkinson‘s joke (just another way God mysteriously shows that he loves us); and the stick-hoop-games-will-ruin-the-youth bit.

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Had a few problems reading this book. My fault really, kept hearing Albert’s voice as Stewie and there was a cute guy all in black nearby reading a Star Trek mag at the bookstore. Both obvious concentration blockers.

Full of cheeky MacFarlane humour, my fav example, when they’re talking about why Indians are always attacking and so mad – What’s their problem, we’re basically splitting the country 50/50 with them. I know, they’re so selfish. I love when humour is used to point out social truths or injustices or stuff.

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The cast looks flabbergastic – Seth MacFarlane as Albert, the sheep farmer, also Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris (moustache!), Gilbert Gottfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Bill Maher, Ralph Garman, Rex Linn

Like all MacFarlane’s work we see how watching too many TV shows and movies affect the brain. No complaints, I get every reference so obviously I have the same issue. This one has a Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles feel.amill3

As a fan of Western books, TV, movies, etc. I thought the line about something else to kill them so they should just wear coffins as clothes was brilliant.

So if you can’t wait for the movie coming out May 30, 2014, this companion novel should help tide you over.

Somehow I expected even more sheep jokes.amill4

Posted in Televison, Uncategorized

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

cosmos11Hearing exciting episode titles: Some of the Things That Molecules Do, Big Bang, When  Knowledge Conquered Fear, Standing Up In The Milky Way…I can hardly contain myself.

Set your clocks (don’t forget to turn them ahead an hour for those affected by Daylight Savings Time), because Sunday March 9, 2014 marks the start of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by the funny and brilliant Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, produced by deeply disturbed and hilarious Seth MacFarlane, and of course with the help of  the exceptional Ann Druyan (co-creator of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage and widow of the late, uberbrilliant Carl Sagan).cosmos10

I just got a shiver thinking of the Spaceship of the Imagination from the original series and my mind is racing thinking about the possibilities for the new Spaceship of the Imagination. I know, how geeky am I?

I was a teenager when this was on TV, well, just barely a teenager, more a mature toddler, a middle-aged fetus really. I most likely wasn’t even born when this aired in 1980.

Cosmos wasn’t for everyone. Some people considered it dry or difficult. Some people were wrong. It was awesome. You could feel your mind swelling as you watched it, your jaw slack, just waiting to see what mysteries would be revealed to you. Cosmos was a way to get people excited about science, discoveries, the Universe itself, a way to bring people wary of science, to, it’s magic.

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My brother and I sat glued to the TV watching episodes with titles like: Who Speaks for Earth?, The Backbone of Night, One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue, The Persistence of Memory, Heaven and Hell, etc. And my brother would add all kinds of information because he’s all super geniusy, sort of like Mr. Peabody except not a canine, so not really like him at all, except smart. And my parents would wonder how they produced such nerds.

So you can see how when I heard Cosmos was back my exocrine glands were all like, what? and I was like, you guys stop drooling it’s just a TV show; and they were all like, who are you to tell us when we can salivate Ms. Pavlov and I was like, you got me there guys.cosmos8

I’m thrilled to see science rushing through TV and movies. Now we have to get off our duffs and further explore that final frontier. We can’t just live in virtual worlds, we have to save this one and find others.

Whether you’re a slobbery nerd who may or may not have tried to snog Capt Kirk on the TV set, or dreamed of marrying The Doctor, of Doctor Who (of course the Tom Baker one), or thought Carl Sagan was dreamy in a metaphysical way, or you just want to see a fascinating and informative show, tune in March 9, 2014 on Fox or FX or National Geographic, etc. and observe the odyssey unfold.cosmos1

Posted in Christmas, Movies, Televison, Uncategorized

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

christmas55I must say I’m partial to the black and white version, seems more authentic.
Why is this such a Christmas classic? In some ways because of its similarities to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Whether it’s a rich man who has lost the joy of Christmas or an everyday working person who just feels like the world would be better off without him, we love, love, love stories of redemption. We love to believe that no matter how far gone you are, there’s always hope, always a way back. Christmas is a time of hope, a time when people want to believe that all things can be put right again. And I love anything James Stewart was in.bankers4

It’s not a complicated story, in fact, its utter simplicity makes it appealing.

You can keep going, long after you think you can’t.ImageFunny notes:
The real name of the actor who played Nick the bartender is Sheldon Leonard (think Big Bang Theory)

The policeman is named Bert and his friend the cab driver is Ernie (as in Bert and Ernie, Sesame Street)

Who says product placement is getting worse? The products and advertisements featured in Mr. Gower’s drugstore include: Coca-Cola, Bayer Aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, The Saturday Evening Post, Camel cigarettes, Lucky Strike cigarettes, La Unica cigars, Chesterfield cigarettes, Vaseline hair tonic, Penetro cough syrup, and Paterson tobacco pipes. Apparently the people of Bedford Falls were heavy smokers.

In Gremlins, Billy’s hometown is Kingston Falls, laid out to look like Bedord Falls and also has clips from It’s A Wonderful Life.

Kermit the Frog examines what would of happened if he’s never been born It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, a nod to It’s A Wonderful Life.bankers3

Cheers, Saturday Night Live, Veggietales, The Simpsons, Mork & Mindy, Family Guy, Raising Hope, Red Dwarf, ZuZu’s Petals, The Killers, and more have imitated or referenced this film, it’s a pop culture staple.

It’s A Wonderful Life lost RKO $525,000 at the box office during it’s original run.christmas46