Dept. of Pet Peeves: Movie Theater Seating.
Have you taken a break from Amazon and Netflix to go to the movies lately? While there's still something special about the big screen and sharing the experience, many movie theaters have started adopting a new seating policy that we really don't like: Assigned seating.
Normally, that's a good thing when attending an event, like a concert or a Broadway play. But when you go to a weekday matinee and you and maybe two other couples are the only ones in the theater ... it seems pretty silly.
Not only that, but also:
And what exactly is the point? Maybe so advance ticket buyers can secure their seat ahead of time? I guess.
With all the advances made, from super wide screens to Barcalounger seats, there is still something to be said for the drive-in movie, where your choice of seats was "front" or "back."
We hear about it, read about it and see it reported about on a pretty much continual basis since the 2016 election. As polls continue to show, the credibility of the media has plummetted. Americans are increasingly questioning the validity of the information streaming on their mobile devices and elsewhere. As a lifelong journalist, it's a sad state of affairs.
But we should have seen it coming. Just as soon as the Internet hung its "Open for Business" sign, it was inevitable. The great thing that suddenly anyone could be a publisher was also the scariest thing. Who to believe -- Facebook or The Washington Post? The bloggers in the basement or the reporters in the newsrooms?
Full disclosure, I contributed to the problem long before it was recognized as a problem. Back -- way back -- when I served as a reporter and co-editor of my high school newspaper, "The Poly Parakeet," we hatched the idea of producing an April Fool's edition.
For my part, I concocted a story that the senior rings would be delivered a little differently. All the rings would be brought by truck, which would proceed to dump them out at the main entrance to Poly High School. Students would have to claim their rings by looking at the initials engraved on the inside.
Much to my surprise, not all students found it funny. One girl came to the student newspaper office crying, saying, "I'll never find my ring!!"
I called it satire; today it would be called fake news.
Even now, people still mistake satire (like what The Onion publishes) for news, regardless of how it's labeled or presented. It's just human nature: People will always believe what they want to believe. Like the earth is really flat and dinosaurs roamed the planet until a few thousand years ago.
There is a new report just out from the Pew Research Center that takes an extensive look at the issue via a bevy of experts. "The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online" notes: "Experts are evenly split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online. Those forecasting improvement place their hopes in technological fixes and in societal solutions. Others think the dark side of human nature is aided more than stifled by technology."
Not exactly reassuring. Gone are the days when we could turn on our TVs and let Walter Cronkite or John Chancellor come into our living rooms and tell it like it is. They had our trust. Who are we going to trust today not to give us fake news? That's the big question, isn't it?
So I am sitting in hospital room visiting Ann’s brother when an old cowboy TV show comes on the tube. Made me think about your story on favorite TV Series theme music. I had to go back and read your story. I am shocked. 'Rifleman' doesn’t even get honorable mention. I have never fired any type of gun but, boy, when I hear the 'Rifleman' song I want to grab a rifle and do the one arm, wrist cock rifle load like Lucas McCain. Maybe even do a running jump onto a horse and ride off into the sunset. Ok Gerry. Back to my reading the newspaper for now." -- Marty
Marty, what was I thinking? "The Rifleman" is a classic Western for sure! Let's return to the Old West and watch Connors fire away once again ...
Now a question. They made a few changes in the opening for the fifth season of the series. Like this better?
While we're talking about Chuck Connors, do you remember his other Western series, "Branded"? It even made its way into that classic movie, "The Big Lebowski."
But before we leave the Western genre, I have to mention the all-time classic theme, in my opinion. What do you think about this one, Marty?
Hard as it is to believe, but the holidays are almost upon us. And it's not too early to start thinking about what am I going to get Pam for Christmas.
This year, I may be in luck. The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is out, and one of their 2017 "Fantasy Gifts" is offered for "The bubbliest personality you know."
Not only is Pam's personality bubbly, but also her taste in wine. She loves her champagne. Everything from a special occasion Dom to Veuve Clicquot to Costco Kirkland. And this gift is all about champagne.
Neiman's describes it this way:
"Kick things off with a first-class trip for four to Paris and a stay at Rosewood's Hotel de Craton with a 12-course dinner at L'Ecrin. Next, a private car will take you to meet with the 13th-generation wine-growing family behind Armand de Brignac. Tend the vineyards, sample the reserves, stroll the private cellar, and help finish your own cuvee. End the day with a helicopter flyover of Champagne's villages and vineyards. Then. spend the night at Domaine Les Crayeres, a majestic chateau, with a dinner at the three-Michelin-star L'Assiette Champenoise before enjoying Paris for one more glorious day and night. The fun doesn't end there. Delivered to your door: 12 bottles of each of the five Armand de Brignac to savor until your bespoke bottles are ready. And when the time comes, 24 bottles of the personally finished cuvee, each inscribed with the giftee's name."
Pretty spectacular, right? But probably not cheap, right?
Right. It's "only" $150,000.
Got to sign off now, and head for Costco.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a lot of funny observations on how men and women use TV remote controls. Among them: "Men don't care what's on TV, they just want to know what else is on."
It's true. We are the hunters, even when it comes to watching TV. Flip, flip, flip. No attention span, whatsoever. Guilty as charged.
All that aside, just how great an invention was the remote control? It's right up there with cup holders and Cheese Whiz. Some guy in the Fifties got tired of getting up and down to change the channel and as they say, the rest is history.
Speaking of history, the very first TV remote is credited to the Zenith Corp., who named it, appropriately enough, "Lazy Bones." It was attached to the TV via a long wire. A few years later, Zenith engineer Eugene Polley invented the first wireless remote, called the "Flashmatic." It used a beam of light to change the channels and adjust the volume. Polley, who died in 2012 at age 96, also worked on radar and push-button radios, earning 18 patents during his long career at Zenith.
From that point on, remotes kept getting more sophisticated, with added functionality.
Today, remotes are everywhere. There's one for the TV, one for the cable box, one for the DVD, one for Roku, Amazon or your streaming devices. There are remotes for your sound system and ceiling fans. Today's cars have remotes that unlock, start the engine and brew a cup of coffee (well, maybe not that last one, but I'm sure it's on the drawing board). There are even remotes for your remotes. Called "universal remotes," they aim to take the place of all your other remotes by activating device codes. A good idea in theory but even if you master all the codes, navigating the function buttons requires an engineering degree.
Another option is voice-activated commands. Most new remotes offer this feature. Of course, if you don't speak clearly or have a heavy accent, there's no telling what channel or program you might land on. Plus. I have a basic distrust of technology that is "listening" to everything all the time. You do remember the HAL 9000 from "2001: A Space Odyssey," right?
Hate the remote clutter on your coffee table or bed stand? No problem. Just download the corresponding app and you have remote functionality for your devices right on your smartphone.
As the world we live in gets ever-more connected, and the "Internet of Things" takes over our lives, with watches that produce read-outs of pulse and blood pressure and refrigerators with built-in screens for recipe videos, remote control takes on a whole new meaning.
Polley had to be amazed at how his 1955 invention evolved through the years, not to mention becoming a mainstay for Seinfeld's stand-up comedy.
Here's a BBC tribute to Polley, and a clip for the first color remote:
So yesterday I offered up three of my favorite TV show themes. That prompted the better half of this website - Pam -- to counter with three of her own. We're competitive that way, don't you know.
Her first choice was actually one I gave serious consideration -- "Peter Gunn." The driving beat of the song, written by the great Henry Mancini, is just as memorable today as it was in the Sixties.
Flash forward to modern times, and Pam really nailed it with her number two selection: "Got Yourself a Gun" from the HBO series, "The Sopranos." From the music to the acting and writing, that was pure greatness.
Last, but certainly not least, the genius of Jackie Gleason and his "Melancholy Serenade," the theme for "The Jackie Gleason Show" and a beautiful song in its own right. As Jackie would say, "How sweet it is!"
I admit she really upped the ante on dueling TV theme songs. All right -- I'll see your three, and raise you three more. They better be good, right?
With the country, and seemingly the world, in a Great Depression (mental, not financial), I am forced to retreat into less weighy topics. Like, my favorite TV show theme songs and intros. In some cases, these are more memorable than the shows themselves.
My first pick is the sci-fi series that ran on ABC for two seasons, 1963-1965: "The Outer Limits." It was often compared to Rod Serling's highly successful "Twilight Zone" (another great theme, BTW). The original is posted below. It was subsequently shortened in later episodes. What hooked me was the "control voice." Something about the tone and tenor that said, "You will obey my every command."
I think most would agree this next one is a classic: "Mission: Impossible." We even got a sneak peek at that week's mission, should we choose to accept it, which we always did. It was so iconic it had to be used in the Tom Cruise movie versions as well. Watch the clip before it self-destructs.
I would watch James Garner in just about anything, and he and theme song by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter were definitely the best things about "The Rockford Files." Garner played a private eye in this NBC series from the Seventies. The tune is so catchy you won't be able to stop replaying it in your head.
I have to include the theme from the hospital series, "St. Elsewhere," because it was done by the brilliant Dave Grusin, whose musical genius has elevated so many movies and shows. Watch the credits and catch a very young-looking Denzel Washington.
To Be Continued ...
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."