Tag: That 70s Show

Day 999: Buh-Bye, So Long and Hallelujah

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It’s a completely valid question.

For the past 50 or so days I have been fielding one question more often than most: what am I going to do for Day 1000? Will the final kilograph reflect upon the 999 that came before, like some extended clip show of my greatest guffaws and most aww-rending moments? Will I spend my final entry in closing-credits mode, thanking those who have made this all possible and put up with my considerable dearth of free time over the last 2 years and almost 9 months?

In short… no. While my original intent was to meander down that self-serving footpath for my final article, I decided that I would only do so if I could cite the Wikipedia page that had been created about me – as it turns out, that doesn’t exist yet.

In order to figure out my final missive, I felt I should turn to the moulder of my wisdom, the sage oracle who has helped to shape my morality, my perception, and even my understanding of the world: television. I have experienced the highs and lows of series finales – certainly at least one of them could illuminate the road to a poignant, entertaining, and (most of all) worthy coda to this monstrous undertaking.

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My first option is the beloved trope of bringing back a classic character for the finale. In my case I could introduce a surprise cameo by Yoko Ono, Craig David, Mary Nissenson, or if I really want to stretch to my roots, Phineas Gage. I could style the entire piece in a blend of haiku, musical theatre and secret code (did anyone ever figure that one out?). It sounds trite and cliché, but that’s always a place to start, isn’t it? Read more…

Day 481: The Morality Cops

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Let me paint you a picture. On a Sunday night at 8:00, my family has the option of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC (channel 13), or flipping over to the latest episode of The Walking Dead on AMC (channel 39). One of these two shows contains profanity, excessive blood and gore, and the most creative violence I’ve ever seen on TV. The other contains hilarious trampoline-induced, groin-related mishaps. With sound effects!

In that same timeslot, AMC and HBO are proud to show us a protagonist who cooks meth, a 1920’s gangster who likes to be choked during sex (with full frontal wagging wang), and the visceral assault on the hormones of straight women and gay men everywhere which is contained within Don Draper’s pants.

Yet the ABC show is subject to intensive scrutiny by professional finger-pointers like the Parents Television Council. If my wife and I were not home, our babysitter sprawled drunkenly across the bathroom floor, the PTC would protect my kids from damaging television, but only so long as they can’t figure out how to use the Channel Up button to get to 39.

Stifling their counting skills is always a good idea.

Stifling their counting skills is always a good idea.

Most modern televisions have the ability to lock out channels. V-Chip technology can block network shows with questionable content for children. And for parents who are really worried, there’s always the ability to fall back on actual parenting, meaning if you don’t want them to see the bloodshed on CSI, then you don’t fucking let them watch it.

Uh-oh. Now the PTC will be on my case for that slip-up. Sorry if I’ve offended any of you. If only I had the wisdom and wherewithal of the censorship sages in their office. Read more…

Day 306: Scanning The Sludge – Worst TV Part 2

Sometimes there’s nothing more fun than laughing at someone else’s complete and total failure. Until you realize that quite often those people got paid for their failures. In the case of these terrible television shows – all plucked from that fetid, rotting tree known as reality TV – the producers, directors, schmuck-wranglers and crud-packagers all walked away with a paycheck. Hell, even the networks that aired these messes collected their advertising revenue.

In the end, the only one who came away from these shows with a loss was the once-pure integrity of our collective culture.

Perhaps nothing better embodies the depths from which our society may never be saved than its obsession with the goings-on of the rich and famous. The E! network, which could arguably be prosecuted for crimes against humanity for its Kardashian-infused acts of loathsome malice, gave us Celebrities Uncensored in 2003. This televised urine stain was a half-hour of paparazzi footage, featuring popular stars in restaurants, shopping, or otherwise trying live their lives like the human beings most of them actually are. One sentence in the article about this show really stands out:

“Paris Hilton was first brought to the public’s attention by this show.”

For that I say the fires of Hell are too good for executive producer E.L. Woody and his minions of pure evil. Read more…

Day 201: The Diggers Take Aim

There was a time long ago, before caring became unhip and irony closed its shutters on the glaring sun, when joining a movement was – to many, anyhow – a rite of passage within one’s internal sense of community. Sure, the “99%” movement is still going strong today… or so I suspect. It’s hard to say; once they dropped out of the 24-hour news media cycle, most people I know stopped keeping up with them. Our local Occupy protest was shut down last year, with relocation penciled in by its organizers, but it never really happened.

Sometimes it seems the 1960s counterculture movement has been reduced in the collective consciousness to a stereotype, a mass gathering of bright-colored clothing and guys who all look and sound like Tommy Chong’s character on That 70’s Show. This is a tragedy of our narrow attention spans. Our parents (and, let’s face it, grandparents) wanted to change the world, and truly believed they could.

Also, the weed back then was really weak. So somehow I guess that makes their motivation more genuine or something.

Ideas for social change bubbled in a virtual froth through the youth generation of the 1960s, some feasible and productive, others mired in faulty premises and unattainable outcomes. Some of the talented kids started bands to preach their messages. Others were more comfortable in the realm of theatre.

Enter the Diggers.

It’s hard to classify the Diggers as an improv troupe, but that’s technically what they were, just as the closely-related San Francisco Mime Troupe is technically a theatre group (not a mime group, so they will be spared my scorn at the foul art of mimery). But both organizations were primarily focused on the message behind their art.

The Diggers grabbed their name from a 17th century agrarian movement in England, in which a bunch of farmers figured their lives would be better if everyone lived in small egalitarian communities, redefining the notions of property and entitlement. They set up colonies, similar to the peacenik communes that dotted the western landscape in the later years of the counterculture movement. And much like the communes of 40 years ago, ye olde Diggers didn’t experience a lot of staying power in their carefully crafted lives off the grid. Read more…