Monthly Archives: February 2008

Am I the Only Person Who Doesn’t Get LOST?

No, I don’t mean I can drive around any town, any place without referencing a map once. No, this LOST I speak of is the very popular show on ABC.

I think my dislike of complicated series that inevitably end up failing to tell a story and merely chasing its own narrative tail stems from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Did the pop culture world really get caught up in a show that revealed the root of all evil (at least as far this show was concerned) went by the name BOB? I really toughed it out with that show, until one day an epiphany was thrust upon me. The epiphany? Bail on a show when a backward-talking dancing dwarf shows up.

I look at LOST and I think to myself wow I never thought there could be a show that could make me appreciate Gilligan’s Island. The sheer complexity and crytic nature of the show actually has me longing for weak 1960s sitcoms.

But, of course, judging by the ratings the show attracts, my view is clearly in the minority.

Am I the Only Person Who Doesn’t Get LOST?

No, I don’t mean I can drive around any town, any place without referencing a map once. No, this LOST I speak of is the very popular show on ABC.

I think my dislike of complicated series that inevitably end up failing to tell a story and merely chasing its own narrative tail stems from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Did the pop culture world really get caught up in a show that revealed the root of all evil (at least as far this show was concerned) went by the name BOB? I really toughed it out with that show, until one day an epiphany was thrust upon me. The epiphany? Bail on a show when a backward-talking dancing dwarf shows up.

I look at LOST and I think to myself wow I never thought there could be a show that could make me appreciate Gilligan’s Island. The sheer complexity and crytic nature of the show actually has me longing for weak 1960s sitcoms.

But, of course, judging by the ratings the show attracts, my view is clearly in the minority.

John Granger on Harry Potter

I first became aware of John Granger a few months ago, thanks to his friend and fellow educator, Amy H. Sturgis. Granger describes his most popular intellectual pursuit at his blog (HogwartsProfessor) as: “… Granger’s contribution to the crowded world of Harry Potter thinking is his insistence the books be read as any other very good book rather than a sui generis phenomenon. This perspective has allowed him to explain how the magic of the books is not a departure from the traditions of English fantasy and, mirabile dictu, is even edifying Christian reading.” Many of Granger’s books on Harry Potter (published by Zossima Press) can be found here. My thanks to Granger for taking the time for this email interview.

Tim O’Shea: As both a homeschooling and non-homeschooling educator yourself, how frustrating is it to read misinformed criticisms of Harry Potter by homeschooling parents threatened by the perceived dangers the works pose to their children.

Continue reading John Granger on Harry Potter

Where Have I Been?

Well to be honest, Saturday was my birthday, so I was swamped offline for a good part of the day.

That being said, I’ve decided to join my friends over at Blog@Newsarama, as a regular contributor with its Quote, Unquote column. Here is my first installment.

Then tonight, I decided to lurk in the comments section of PopSmart (Creative Loafing Atlanta’s A&E blog) while they liveblogged the Oscars. It was the most fun I ever had watching the Oscars, honestly. An I got to learn more about a local indie movie theater and a filmmaker while talking with fellow commenters.

I’m unsure how well I will keep doing the third post of the week on the blog. Of course, as the readers, I understand if you say to yourself: “I’m unsure how well I’ll come by to read your blog, pal.” But rest assured, I will always have an interview up by late Monday evening and a post on Wednesday. The Saturday post is slowly morphing into a “sometime during the weekend” timed post. But hopefully my thoughts while late, will still interest.

The John Larroquette Show Re-Enters My Brain

I don’t watch Boston Legal with any great regularity. I have a love/annoyance relationship with David E. Kelley, the show’s creator. When Kelley gets on his soapbox and has his characters start preaching to the audience through heavy-handed plot elements, I just have to get away. Fortunately I had been away for awhile when I watched the show on Tuesday night.

One of the many plots of the show involved senior partner Carl Sack (played by John Larroquette) taking on a case involving Andrea Michele (a role taken by Alison LaPlaca). Watching a scene between the two characters, I sensed a familiar vibe about the two of them. It was a full five minutes before I remembered that LaPlaca had portrayed Catherine, a nurse neighbor of John Laroquette’s character on his NBC sitcom (named after him) that ran from 2003 to 2006.

Once I remembered their previous show, I immediately went to Netflix to add the series to my list. And I found out that the show was not on DVD. In a market where some of the worst shows ever conceived have received the Criterion Edition treatment, how can this show not be on DVD.

The show, about an alcoholic’s struggle with recovery, had a quirky sense of humor–as reflected in the casting of his AA sponsor, David Crosby. In its short three-year (1993-1996) run, the show boasted such cast members as Liz Torres, Daryl Mitchell, Chi McBride and Lenny Clarke. This show has quickly dethroned Ed as the series I would most like to see released on DVD.

Todd DePastino on Bill Mauldin

Visitors to the site may remember my late January used bookstore discovery of Bill Mauldin’s 1944 World War II book, Up Front. That discovery ultimately led me to contact Todd DePastino, regarding both his latest work, a biography of Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (which is to be released by W. W. Norton on February 25) and Mauldin’s Willie & Joe: The WWII Years (edited by DePastino and set to be released on March 24 by Fantagraphics). I can honestly say I enjoy every interview I do for this blog, but when DePastino’s replies hit my email in-box, I just sat and savored it for at least 15 minutes. After reading it once, I stood up from my computer and paced for a moment or two, that’s how engaging I found his responses. While it may be apparent that I had not gotten my hands on a copy of the biography before this interview, I have since been able to peruse an advance copy. As interesting as you (hopefully) will find this interview, it’s only a small aspect of the wealth of information that DePastino packs into the 320-page book. Before starting the interview, here’s DePastino’s official bio blurb: “Todd DePastino is the author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America and the general editor of the cartoon collection Willie & Joe: The WWII Years. He teaches at Waynesburg College and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.” It seems only fitting that we also got a chance to discuss the upcoming Fantagraphics book, given that I first learned of Mauldin thanks to Dirk Deppey writing about him back in late 2002.

Continue reading Todd DePastino on Bill Mauldin

Fancast: How’d I Miss That?

I am a long-time subscriber to Comcast as my cable provider and a fairly heavy user of its on-demand system. I also pride myself in being one of the myriad beta users of hulu and generally being aware of online media entertainment options.

So I was really surprised when I found out about the new Fancast online entertainment venture by Comcast–not from my cable provider–but rather from Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy. As Whitney notes in her write-up of the site: “Here, you can search TV listings; watch films and TV shows; connect with programs on iTunes, Netflix, Fandango and other sites; get recommendations; and more. … also [the site] plays video from CBS.com, Hulu, Viacom networks”.

I have to totally concur with Matheson’s response of in essence: “What took someone so long to come up with a venture like this?”

Honestly I am already spoiled by online video demand options, given that I get disappointed when the online options don’t carry a show I want to see. Am I the only person mystified as to why that great 2000-2004 NBC series, Ed, is not on demand already?

If you happen to come by on Saturday for a post only to find nothing, I apologize for the delay.

OK, That’s Just Annoying

While I am not annoyed that the writer’s strike has ended, I am annoyed that Jay Leno’s writing staff will be returning. Why? Well, for starters, they are not funny. And yet, for reasons that escape me, Leno always beats Letterman in the ratings (he even beat Letterman when Leno had no writers). I understand that Letterman’s humor rubs some folks the wrong way, but Leno’s comedy is just uninspired vanilla. It has never clicked with me and I just get annoyed that Letterman comes in second to Leno. I understand that Letterman’s never in any risk of being canceled by CBS, but my comedic sense of justice feels wronged that Letterman never wins the late night ratings contest.

Chic-Evolution in Art

Last year when I decided to start this blog part of the thinking was to explore subjects far beyond my customary area of knowledge, but of interest to me. Volunteering at my son’s school allows me to interact with folks from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds. Bottom line, I get to befriend a lot of interesting and intellectually engaging people. One of those engaging folks is Michelle Bishop Turkington. Turkington is one of the forces behind Chic-Evolution in Art, a business that helps clients to find art that best suits their respective needs. I could try to go into more detail about it, but I think Turkington explains things far more effectively, of course.

Tim O’Shea: When and why did Chic-Evolution In Art begin?

Continue reading Chic-Evolution in Art

Hello Again Everybody and Other Stuff

So I was watching the Harry Carey documentary, Hello Again Everybody: The Harry Carey Story, this afternoon and I think to call it a documentary is a misnomer. It’s more of an endearing tribute, clearly done with the cooperation and participation of his family and friends. There were few bits of an objective inkling to the project, except for acknowledging that he was not strongly connected to his family until the last 10 years of his life.

Continue reading Hello Again Everybody and Other Stuff