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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category


Today, something for Obama supporters

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

I’ve been taking a fair amount of heat lately because I can’t find it in my heart to support Our Dear Leader…I mean, The Greatest President Ever®… I mean Barack H. Obama as he runs for reelection.

Apparently, all I ever do is lie about him and make up stuff and be mean and disrespectful. I’ve even had the racist card played on me a couple of times.

I will freely admit to being disrespectful, primarily because I’m one of those curmudgeonly folks who believe respect should be earned and not come automatically with being elected to something. The rest of the charges, well, I imagine they come from folks who live by sound bites and pretty much want to believe that “Yes, we can” move “Forward” and build castles in the sky but really don’t like it when folks point out things like gravity, so they lash out.  But that’s okay. I have a pretty thick skin.

Still, I do feel a little bit bad that I made them feel bad. So today, I’m not going to say anything bad about Barack H. Obama. I’m not even going to point out any uncomfortable truths. I’m just going to offer this short music video by two folks who apparently were card-carrying Obots hopeful, thoughtful supporters in 2008.

I’ll leave it to you, kind readers, to comment on the video.



Truth in Toons: City Folk on a Farm Edition, Part 2

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?


For the past few weeks, Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse characters have “vacationed” on a relative’s farm.

I found the sequence amusing and thought you might, too.

Part 1 was posted yesterday. If you missed it, scroll down or Click Here.











Truth in Toons: Teenage Son Edition

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?







Rest in Peace, Andy

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Yesterday, I was saddened to learn Andy Griffith passed away Tuesday morning at age 86.

I never watched any of his later TV shows, including the wildly successful Matlock, but I was, as a kid, a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show. If you, too, watched and enjoyed the show, you understand why. If not, you might want to skip the video clips, below, and come back tomorrow.

Rest in Peace, Andy.

Opie And The Spoiled Kid

Opie’s Allowance

Andy, Opie, and Horatio

Andy Griffith and Paul Revere’s Ride



I had a nice weekend. Did you? Also, some videos.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner – DeAnna.


I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. I had to work for part of it, but I also got to spend time outside tending to some long-overdue trimming of various shrubs around our yard. I also had the pleasure of spending time in my workshop building a platform on which my son’s large window air conditioner can rest. I really should have spent time cleaning the aforementioned workshop, but where’s the fun in that? I even got to watch a movie last night, something I’ve not done much of this month thanks to Martha monopolizing the TV at night with Red Sox games. I can’t say she’s their biggest fan, but she’s definitely part of the 1%, fan-wise. I did waste some time on YouTube, though, and found a few videos I thought worthy of sharing. All-in-all, I had a pretty nice weekend.

How was your weekend? Did you have to work? What did you do? Let me know after you watch the videos.

First up, the marriage of the Hawaii 5-O theme song and Star Wars. I remember watching the original 5-O as a teen and I was a big fan of the first three installments of the latter, so I thought this kind a cool.

I was also a big fan of the original Star Trek series, probably because, back then, I consumed sci-fi novels at the rate of two or three a week. A decade and a half later, NBC brought the world The A-Team.

Finally fans of Star Trek, The Next Generation know Brent Spiner as the android Star Fleet officer Commander Data. Before that, he appeared in a number of other TV shows, including Night Court. It was his last role before getting the part of Commander Data, so maybe his “Bob Wheeler” really did help to make him famous.

Do you have some favorite YouTube videos? If so, and if they are appropriate for a family website, please link to them in the comments section. Thanks!


Wasting time

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Back when I was a younger and had more hair, my friends and I used to play a game we called table-top football.

The only equipment needed was a flat table and a book of matches. The rules were simple.

The matchbook was flipped and someone called heads or tails, or top or bottom.


The winner began by putting the matchbook on the table and, using his first two fingers, sliding it across the table. When it stopped, if it was wholly on the table, the other player slid it back from where it stopped. If any part of it was hanging over the edge when it stopped, the player got a touchdown and tried for an extra point. If it fell off, the other person tried for a field goal.

Field goals and extra points involved standing the book of matches vertically on its side. The opponent would place his hands on his edge of the tabletop with his fingers laced together, thumbs sticking up to form goal posts. The “kicker” then used his thumb and index finger to flick the matches up and across the table between the goal posts.

We’d usually play to some agreed-upon number of points or length of time. If we were sitting in an establishment that served adult beverages, the loser would often buy the next round.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I thought of it the other day at dinner and told my son about it. And I’ve been thinking about it, off and on, since then.

We used to have a great time playing that game as we sat and talked, drank beers, and just hung out like young guys do. We had other time-wasters, but tabletop football was a favorite, probably because I was pretty good at it. I rarely missed a field goal or extra point.

It’s been close to forty years since I last played it. And given that my thirty-something son hadn’t heard of it, I don’t imagine anyone plays it anymore. It probably began fading out as cheap Bic lighters became popular.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll see if I can find an old book of matches laying around somewhere and teach my son to play this week when he and his wife come for dinner.

If he’s not too busy texting and whatever on his Blackberry, of course.

Guys, did you ever play table-top football, or some similar time-wasting game?

And ladies, what did you and your friends do to waste time when you were young?


Goodbye, Barnabas

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Long before Edward Cullen and the host of wannabe-famous vampires who followed, there was Barnabas Collins.

I expect you’ll have to be a bit older than 39 to remember Barnabas and Dark Shadows, the TV soap on which he appeared.

I was fifteen when Dark Shadows began it’s five-year run in 1966. I quickly became an ardent fan and I was not alone. During high school, I worked part-time after school at the local Boy’s Club, in the junior ( 12 and under) lounge and game room, and each weekday, when Dark Shadows aired, the game room virtually emptied and the lounge, where the TV was located, was stuffed with both junior and older members, and a few staff members, for the half-hour the program was on.

I bring this up today because, this morning, I learned that Jonathan Frid, the actor who portrayed Barnabas Collins, passed away at 87.

Perhaps you have to be young to be so taken with something so silly that you still mourn its passing four decades later, but I’ve never forgotten it, or the character he played. .

Following is his obituary as it appears in today’s Boston Globe.

If you, too, were a fan of the show, especially if you were one of the many thousands who sent him fan mail each week, please leave a comment and share your remembrances of the show, and the times, for they were, indeed, most interesting times.

Goodbye, Barnabas.


Jonathan Frid, 87; actor helped give ‘Dark Shadows’ more bite

Mr. Frid in character as Barnabas Collins in a 1970 photo.

NEW YORK – Jonathan Frid, a Shakespearean actor who found unexpected – and, by his own account, unwanted – celebrity as the vampire Barnabas Collins on the sanguinary soap opera “Dark Shadows,’’ died Friday the 13th in Hamilton, Ontario.

He was 87.

He died of complications of a fall, said Kathryn Leigh Scott, who played several characters on the show.

Mr. Frid, who lived in Ancaster, Ontario, leaves no immediate survivors.

Mr. Frid, along with several castmates, makes a cameo appearance in Tim Burton’s feature film “Dark Shadows,’’ to be released May 11. Johnny Depp stars as Barnabas.

Though Mr. Frid was the acknowledged public face of “Dark Shadows’’ – his likeness was on comic books, board games, trading cards, and many other items – Barnabas did not make his first appearance until more than 200 episodes into the run.

The character was conceived as a short-term addition to the cast, and early on the threat of the stake loomed large.

Broadcast on weekday afternoons on ABC, “Dark Shadows’’ began in 1966 as a conventional soap opera (with Gothic overtones), centering on the Collins family and their creaky manse in Maine.

The next year, with ratings slipping, the show’s executive producer, Dan Curtis, chose to inject an element of the supernatural.

Enter Barnabas, a brooding, lovelorn, eternally 175-year-old representative of the undead. Television vampires are legion today, but such a character was an unusual contrivance at the time.

The ratings shot up, and not only among the traditional soap-opera demographic of stay-at-home women.

With its breathtakingly low-rent production values and equally breathtakingly purple dialogue, “Dark Shadows’’ induced a generation of high school and college students to cut class to revel in its unintended high camp.

The producers shelved the stake.

Swirling cape, haunted eyes, and fierce eyebrows notwithstanding, Barnabas, as portrayed by Mr. Frid, was no regulation-issue vampire. An 18th-century man – he had been entombed in the Collins family crypt – he struggled to come to terms with the 20th-century world.

He was a vulnerable vampire, who pined for his lost love, Josette. (She had leaped to her death in 1795.) He was racked with guilt over his thirst for blood, and Mr. Frid played him as a man in the grip of a compulsion he devoutly wished to shake.

Mr. Frid starred in almost 600 episodes, from April 18, 1967, to April 2, 1971, when the show went off the air. (It remains perennially undead on DVD.)

Mr. Frid received nearly 6,000 fan letters a week. “I wish you’d bite me on the neck,’’ read one, from a woman in Illinois.

Others contained snapshots of the letter-writers’ necks – and everything on down – laid bare.

All this, Mr. Frid said in 1968, was exquisitely ironic in that “the other vampires we’ve had on the show were much more voluptuous biters than I am.’’

It was also an exquisitely unimagined career path for a stage actor trained at the Yale School of Drama and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Mr. Frid, as he made plain in interviews, was as conflicted about his calling as Barnabas was about his own.

The son of a prosperous construction executive, John Herbert Frid was born in Hamilton; he changed his given name to Jonathan early in his stage career.

After service in the Royal Canadian Navy in World War II, Mr. Frid received a bachelor’s degree from McMaster University in Hamilton; he later moved to London, where he studied at the Royal Academy and appeared in repertory theater.

In 1957, he received a master’s degree in directing from Yale.

Mr. Frid spent his early career acting in North American regional theater, appearing at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts and the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn.

On Broadway, he played Richard Scroop, archbishop of York, in “Henry IV, Part 2’’ in 1960.

Long after “Dark Shadows’’ ended, Barnabas remained an albatross.

Mr. Frid reprised the role in the 1970 feature film “House of Dark Shadows’’; the few other screen roles that came his way also tended toward the ghoulish.

He starred opposite Shelley Winters in the 1973 television movie “The Devil’s Daughter,’’ about Satanism; the next year he played a horror writer in “Seizure,’’ Oliver Stone’s first feature.

Returning to the stage, Mr. Frid played Jonathan Brewster, a role originated by Boris Karloff, in a 1986 Broadway revival of the macabre comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace.’’

As critical as he was of “Dark Shadows,’’ Mr. Frid was equally critical of his performance in it.

“I’d get this long-lost look on my face,’’ he told The Hamilton Spectator in 2000. “ ‘Where is my love? Where is my love?’ it seemed to say. Actually, it was me thinking: ‘Where the hell is the teleprompter? And what’s my next line?’ ’’


The Absent Minded Professor

Monday, April 16th, 2012

A Monday rerun from 2008


Is there anyone out there old enough to remember The Absent Minded Professor? Not the remakes. The original, with Fred MacMurray.

I think I was ten or eleven when I saw it at the local movie theater.

In those days, moms thought nothing of sending a ten-year-old off to the movies alone. Sometimes I walked and sometimes I took the bus. I can’t recall what the bus cost, or the movie cost, but I remember the bag of popcorn was ten cents. It was salty and I loved the stuff. When I was done with it, I used to crumple the bag and toss it through a small hole someone had made in the wall. Not that it was hard, since I always sat in the same seat, on the right side, at the end of the row next to the door frame of the front exit door. The aforementioned hole was actually in the wide frame.

I never thought about it before, but I guess those were the years when I developed my love of movies.

Anyway, to this ten year old, the movie was hysterical. I barely remember watching it again years later, and it was still amusing, though terribly dated. I think I’ll see if Netflix has it and give it another go. Or maybe I should just live with my memories and not chance dashing them.

I dunno. I’ll have to think about it.

These days, on those rare occasions when we go to a theater to watch a movie, I try to sit in the center of the theater, close enough so the screen fills my field of vision. It’s getting harder and harder, though as theater sizes shrink and center aisles have become the norm.

By the way, why the hell can’t movie folk tone down the music so it doesn’t drown out the words? Is the dialogue so bad the movie needs a twenty- or thirty-decibel higher blast of music to distract us?

A few years back, Mrs. Blogger and I went to see the then-current Spiderman movie. Had great seats with very few people in the theater. We did not even get through the first five minutes. The sound was so damn loud Mrs. Blogger couldn’t stand it.

Wasted a lot of money that day. Popcorn ain’t a dime anymore.

Haven’t been back to that theater since.

Do you remember the original The Absent Minded Professor?

Would you send your ten-year-old off by him- or herself to the theater a mile away these days?


Do government busybodies really need to stick their noses into e-books?

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I like to read.

For a long time, I was reading only hardcovers borrowed from the library because the small type in most paperbacks was no longer as friendly to my eyes as it was when I was young. Early last year, having heard praises sung by many relatives who owned one, I decided to buy a Kindle. Great decision.

Books for the Kindle are reasonably priced compared to their hardcover versions and are often less expensive than the paperback versions. Even better, there is lots of stuff you can read for free. The writing may not be the equal of a best-selling author, but the stories and characters are often just as engaging. And among he free stuff you sometimes find early works by famous authors.

Of course, whenever any free-market system is working well, something must be wrong, prompting some government bureaucrat to stick his or her bloated, overpaid, busybody nose into it, and e-books are no exception.

Justice Department threatens to sue Apple, publishers over e-book prices

The Justice Department told Apple and five of the nation’s biggest book publishers that it will sue them for their alleged price-fixing of electronic books unless the companies agree to change their business practices.Federal officials found that Apple, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers “engaged in a pattern of behavior that violates antitrust laws,” according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Apple and the publishers are talking with Justice Department officials to try to avoid charges and a federal lawsuit, according to the person familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation and talks are private.

The charges, part of the latest Justice Department probe of the e-books market, come as consumers flood to e-book readers and tablets such as the Kindle and the iPad for digital versions of books, newspapers, magazines and movies.

But as consumers have switched to digital, they have also begun paying more for e-books released by the country’s biggest publishers.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

The short version of the article is that Amazon was charging $9.99 for e-books and publishers thought they should charge more so they cut a deal with Apple whereby they could set their own prices and pay Apple a 30% commission per sale. Faced with new competition, Amazon agreed to the same kind of deal. Naturally, publishers set their prices higher, high enough to provide them and the authors with what they considered a reasonable return on the investment of time and money necessary to write and publish a book.

Were consumers forced to pay more? No. Certainly, the prices were raised, but nobody was compelled to pay them. Faced with the option of paying $25 for a hardcover or $14 for an e-book, lots of people chose the latter. Lots of others chose not to buy either. As books age, prices tend to come down, and as s thrifty person, I wait until that happens. If others simply must read the hottest book now and are willing to pay for the privilege, why is it the concern of the Justice Department?

Yes, it’s true that all six big publishers are pricing their bestsellers in the $12 to $15 dollar range. No doubt they have determined that is what the market will bear. If any one of them thought they could get more, they undoubtedly would. And if few people buy the books at $12.95, you can be sure the price will drop fairly quickly. That’s how the free market works.

If these publishers are guilty of price-fixing because they all sell their books in a similar price range, then gas stations all across the nation are equally guilty. Invariably, gas stations close to each other sell for the same price or within a couple of cents per gallon. Indeed, in my city, the brand-name stations are within a few cents even on opposite sides of town and the same is true of most independents. And it’s not because they are colluding in a price-fixing scheme, it’s just good business not to charge too much more or less than the competition.

The simple fact is we have too many damn laws in this country and way too many government officials who have never done a productive thing in their lives  telling folks who do produce how they must do it.

Ronald Reagan had his faults as a President, but he well-understood that less regulation equals greater prosperity for everyone. If only the last few dopes and their administrations understood that, America would be thriving today instead of on the verge of bankruptcy and ruin.

What say you about this issue…and about regulation in general?


What was your favorite movie last year? Here are some I liked a lot. (Part 2)

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Truth in Tunes will return next week. Today I have Part 2 of yesterday’s post.

Following, are the movies I rated 7 or above, meaning I thought they were well-worth the time spent watching them The one-line synopses are from

When you have finished perusing this list, please let me know which ones you saw and enjoyed.



Gnomeo And Juliet (2011) – 8 – [Amination] The neighboring gardens of Montague and Capulet are at war, but the gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet, are in love.

Last Play At Shea (2010) – 7 – A documentary feature chronicling the history of two New York icons (Billy Joel and Shea Stadium) and the journey that brought them together for the last musical performance at Shea Stadium.


Rango (2011) – 8 – [Animated]] Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – 8 – The affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.


Nothing 7 or above, but Cedar Rapids came close with a 6.5


The Beaver (2011) – 7 – A troubled husband and executive adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating.

Everything Must Go (2011) 7.5 – When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form.

Hanna (2011) – 8 – A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

Source Code (2011) – 8 – An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.


Paul (2011) – 7 – Two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51.

Horrible Bosses (2011) – 7 – Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

X-Men: First Class (2011) – 9 – In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of Mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start world war III.

Super 8 (2011) – 8.5 – During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town.


Hugo (2011) – 8.5 – Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. (Note: I saw this in a theater in 3-D, which effects occasionally distracted me from the story. Without that distraction, I’d have rated it 9 or 9.5)

ET (1982) – 8 – A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – 8.5 – A middle-aged husband’s life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a new-found friend Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars.

Friends With Benefits (2011) – 7.5 – While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan and Jamie soon discover however that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications.


Were there any not listed that you thought rated 7 or better out of 10? If so, what were they?



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