End of a TV Era

The last boxlike TV set I will ever own has just been hauled away by trash collectors. My family’s first set, about 60 years ago, had a screen about a third as big and tried very hard to be a boxlike piece of furniture.

I did not see the haul happen, but don’t care I did not get to say goodbye. Damned set had become a pain in the vacuum tube when it was evident we couldn’t get rid of it easily. Nobody wanted a boxlike TV even as a donation.

Killer Jokes

I’m up and down on Emily Nussbaum (to put it mildly), but she nails crucial points here.

I have a Cartman magnet on the fridge and I loved “South Park” for the first few years. But I haven’t watched it in a long, long time and see no reason to start. Nussbaum identifies the deep-seated problems with the show: first, it’s too damn sexist (ever since Mary Kay Bergman offed herself in 1999, all the female characters have been props), but more important, it only frees the mind and soul up to a point. Like a lot of libertarian knuckleheadedness, it assumes it will never actually have to run things — Hillary will win, of course. But things don’t always go that way and Parker and Stone are all too likely to end up producing hate cartoons at gunpoint.

Is the Absurd Always Funny? That’s Absurd!

I’m getting a sense that there’s a rash of new animations that throw repeating characters (with too-flexible personalities) into bizarre, absurd, surreal situations that they try to play for laffs. The earliest example I noticed was “Pig Goat Banana Cricket”


But I’ve noticed at least a couple others since. Not funny enough for me, mostly. Stronger comedy is driven by character, not zany, what-the-hell’s-next situations.

PS: Aha! I see one of the co-creators is Johnny Ryan who was unavoidable in comics-world around here 20 years ago because he was supposed to be so indie and cutting edge. What a disappointment. A completely mechanical and flattened re-tread of Underground Outrage. Oh, well — at least the animated MAD was better than anybody had a right to expect. File this next to the Fritz the Cat movie.

Speaking of Creepy — “Suddenly” Starring Homicidal Maniac Frank Sinatra

I see this movie has been reissued in a fancy edition. And even though you can watch it free online, deserves the full big-TV-screen treatment. All sorts of strange things about it. Sinatra is eerie and compelling — way beyond even his mobster overtones. And it’s such a strange prophecy — including the Lee Harvey Oswald connection. The fact that it keeps getting revived and forgotten about over and over is peculiar in itself.

I ran across it one afternoon when they still showed all those inappropriate B&W movies to kids home from grade school. FRANK SINATRA as a ruthless assassin and general serial-killer type? It was, as they say, a pulse-pounder.

Three Steps To Heaven on a Saturday Night

Dr. Strange late matinee at Fenway Reagal (the most sumptuous, accommodating seats I’ve ever experienced in a movie house — they know they have to do something special to get you away from that home theater).

Take-pout of pulled pork, steak strips and black-eyed peas from Sweet Cheeks, which I think I’ve said before is easily the finest BBQ we’ve ever found in Boston.

Florida vs. Florida State in the still pretty luxurious home theater.

Walking on sunshine.