But the video mashing Drake’s meme-inviting Hotline Bling into the Cosby Show opening from seasons six and seven (compare) cheers me up some. The speed-up sequence from :50 to 1:00 and the sideways dance at 1:01 are perfect.
Six years ago, I bought a TiVo. In my first week with the box, I taped The Cosby Show. The next day, the TiVo Suggestions feature recorded multiple episodes of That’s So Raven. I shut off the feature immediately.
This winter, I bought a new TiVo. The new box had HD, Netflix abilities and plenty of storage space. I left the Suggestions feature on to see how TiVo had improved the engine. Who knew what disaster awaited?
Since May 1, my TiVo’s taped a stunning array of shows I don’t watch:
The Ed Show, Hannity (three times), The O’Reilly Factor (three times), The FOX Report with Shepherd Smith, Brain Surge, Special Report with Bret Baier (twice), Tosh.0 (twice), Glenn Beck (twice), Arthur, Reno 911, The Tyra Show, The Penguins of Madagascar, Imagination Movers, Maury, The Steve Wilkos Show, The 700 Club, America’s Newsroom, Tavis Smiley (three times), Jerry Springer, Arthur (twice), Spongebob Squarepants, Special Agent Oso (five times), Little Einsteins (twice), Monk, Ugly Betty, The Singing Bee, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Meet the Press, Back to the Future, Top 20 Video Countdown, Jump Start, CMT Music, Austin City Limits, Entourage, The Venture Brothers, 48 Hours Mystery, Zeke and Luther (twice), The Early Show (twice), Inside Edition Weekend, The Insider (twice), The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (twice), Charlie Rose (four times), Chelsea Lately, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (three times), Trackside at Darlington, Comedy Central Presents, The Colbert Report, Wheel of Fortune (twice), E! News, Hardball with Chris Matthews, The Wonder Pets, Watch What Happens Live, The Wendy Williams Show (twice), The Martha Stewart Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show, Minute to Win It, Access Hollywood.
In five moves, I can dismiss 95% of this content. So, let’s do that.
1) I never watch news or day-time talk at home. Subtract to get:
Brain Surge, Tosh.0 (twice), Arthur, Reno 911, The Penguins of Madagascar, Imagination Movers, Tavis Smiley (three times), Arthur (twice), Spongebob Squarepants, Special Agent Oso (five times), Little Einsteins (twice), Monk, Ugly Betty, The Singing Bee, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Back to the Future, Top 20 Video Countdown, Jump Start, CMT Music, Austin City Limits, Entourage, The Venture Brothers, 48 Hours Mystery, Zeke and Luther (twice), The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (twice), Charlie Rose (four times), Chelsea Lately, Trackside at Darlington, Comedy Central Presents, The Colbert Report, Wheel of Fortune (twice), The Wonder Pets, Watch What Happens Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show, Minute to Win It.
2) I don’t have kids and don’t watch children’s TV. Subtract to get:
Tosh.0 (twice), Reno 911, Tavis Smiley (three times), Monk, Ugly Betty, The Singing Bee, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Back to the Future, Top 20 Video Countdown, Jump Start, CMT Music, Austin City Limits, Entourage, The Venture Brothers, 48 Hours Mystery, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (twice), Charlie Rose (four times), Chelsea Lately, Trackside at Darlington, Comedy Central Presents, The Colbert Report, Wheel of Fortune (twice), Watch What Happens Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show, Minute to Win It.
3) The only night talk I watch regularly is Letterman.
Reno 911, Monk, Ugly Betty, The Singing Bee, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Back to the Future, Top 20 Video Countdown, Jump Start, CMT Music, Austin City Limits, Entourage, The Venture Brothers, 48 Hours Mystery, Trackside at Darlington, Comedy Central Presents, The Colbert Report, Wheel of Fortune (twice), Minute to Win It.
4) I don’t watch game shows or music videos.
Reno 911, Monk, Ugly Betty, Back to the Future, Austin City Limits, Entourage, The Venture Brothers, 48 Hours Mystery, Trackside at Darlington, Comedy Central Presents, The Colbert Report.
5) I never watch the Cartoon Network, the Speed Channel or whatever unfortunate network 48 Hours Mystery is on.
Reno 911, Monk, Ugly Betty, Back to the Future, Austin City Limits, Entourage, Comedy Central Presents, The Colbert Report.
Not a bad selection. But the work we went through to get here! It boggles the mind how a company with such leadership in the DVR space could produce a recommendations engine so horrible. Critics argue the company’s ideas have slowed. I blame the rec engine.
Tell me, friends. How bad are your TiVo recommendations?
There are two connections I have to this Los Angeles Times story that make me love it. Neither connection alone is close enough for me to whisper in the story’s ear, but both combined are enough for a quick dance, with beat light but present and windows open. Says the lede:
As stone fruits come into the peak of their season, I’m obsessing over Bellinis. For the uninitiated, that would be the Venetian aperitivo of Prosecco with white peach juice. The original was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice (not the one south of Santa Monica but the original watery city) sometime before the second world war, but it wasn’t named “the Bellini” until 1948.
Harry’s was — and still is — famous as a watering hole for the rich and celebrated. Hemingway, of course, popped in and drank awhile. Barbara Hutton, Peggy Guggenheim, Orson Welles and Truman Capote too. But I’m getting ahead of, or behind, myself.
First, it’s summer, and there are peaches involved. I’ve never stood in a field of peach trees, but if I did, you might not be able to get me out.
The first thing I do after arrival at the beach every year is taste frozen yogurt made from fresh peaches. Any time of year, if I see a peach on a menu, I’m perked and listening. In media consumption, no prompting is necessary to remember the Cosby Show where they sing an old song about peaches. There’s peach pie ice cream in my freezer this moment.
Now… hold a second. Sorry, I said two connections. Make it three.
Second, one I just realized, I’m tipping a sweet white while writing this post. If I end up publishing this one morning before breakfast, please know this post was written in an early evening. The sunset says hello.
Third, I want to go to Harry’s Bar someday. You know how? I want to persuade my place of employment to restart the Imitation Hemingway Competition. I’ve wanted this for years. The competition’s been dead since 2005. A corporate sponsorship fell through. But — while it lasted — first prize was a trip to Venice, with a dinner for two at Harry’s Bar.
I tried at USAT. I pitched editors at various times without response. It’s no bother. People receive lots of e-mails. But you’d think mixing books and travel would have shot somebody’s elephant gun. No luck. With a new place of employment, I’m still meeting people and don’t know too many people very well. But maybe they too love cadence and contests.
Aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink, the cool kick that belongs to the day but proceeds something larger. In my Facebook information, I mention in books how I enjoy Hemingway’s short sentences and Faulkner’s long ones. I’ve never gotten to know the Bellini, but I think we would fit.
The legendary singer died Sunday at 92, and the first thing that came to mind was The Cosby Show. Her 1985 appearance on the show was how my generation met her and, in retrospect, what an introduction. TV may have hypnotized us all, but sometimes it did our world right.
Same with Sesame Street. When Rudy mentioned seeing Horne singing with Kermit, every kid like me got the reference. It was amazing today to read the Times’ obit and see how both the Cosby and Kermit videos fit into the intertwining travels of race and recognition during her life.
Horne made a mix of other Muppet cameos in the ’70s. None replayed like Bein’ Green, but Gen X probably knew them well. Coming from Y, my favorite — which I found this winter on the Sesame Street anniversary DVDs — was her singing with Grover. The advice still served me well.
Until yesterday, my entire knowledge of Julia Child impersonation came from The Cosby Show, when Cliff taught Theo how to carve a turkey (and yes, there’s now an official Cosby channel on YouTube), and Dan Aykroyd on SNL (video, transcript).
Yesterday, I learned more. “Get a look at this new spread while enjoying wine and food, magic, culinary traditions, exhibits and a Julia Child impersonator,” the Post event guide said. A what now? In real life? Googling the event, the National Harbor’s Food and Wine Festival, I found details: “Mary Ann Jung of History Alive! presents Julia Child — Queen of Cuisine. The show pays tribute to the incredible energy, passion, and sense of playfulness with which Julia Child approached her greatest loves — her husband and her cooking.”
Further googling found her Child. Jung turned out to have an entire repetoire of historic characters and shows, aimed in an educational direction. Back in the day at Blessed Sacrament, we would’ve gone nuts for Jung during Week of the Arts. Here in the present day, as a fan of Cosby’s Child and Ben Franklin’s visit to The Office, I wondered if she’d considered ever teaching cooking classes as Child.
I’d pay out. Especially if the food was delicious. And there was wine.
In the salad world, anyway. Except with lots of great cheese. But croutons are great too. I got to thinking so today after skimming through the recent New York Times Magazines in quickie catch-up mode. A few issues back, the cover story followed the travails of a relationship counselor. I only got as far as the first paragraph.
“You ask me for intimacy,” Marie was telling her husband of 22 years, Clem — and, unavoidably, the therapist and four other couples in the room — “the same way you ask if I’d like croutons on my salad.” She spoke slowly, deliberately, each word chipping out of her mouth like an ax striking wood. “I don’t hear the difference.”
Clearly, this couple had other problems. But why in the name of good salad would this woman want her croutons to be worse than her marriage? Shouldn’t we hope our croutons are the best they can be, and as good as wedded bliss if possible?
I mean, I’m no expert on croutons. I learned what croutons were from the Cosby Show. You know that episode where Cliff takes Rudy and her friend to a fancy restaurant, and they hate the food, and Bud keeps asking about “krautens,” and they eventually have the waiter bring hamburgers from the fast-food place across the street, and Cliff comes home to Clair with fast-food balloons tied on his ears? That episode taught me about krautens.
But since that time, I’ve come to like croutons so much that I bought a whole bag recently. Didn’t have them with salad, just ate them out of the bag. And they were awful. Apparently the magic of the crouton came through teamwork with other parts of a salad. But I didn’t blame myself. Eating the croutons out of the bag, that was a labor of love. I wanted the croutons to be that good.
The other day, after Julia Child died, a boomer I’ll leave anonymous couldn’t believe the 20-somethings in the room knew who Child was. I couldn’t believe he couldn’t believe it. Our access points to the cook had clearly been different. He knew her image directly; we knew the mirrors.
We wouldn’t have read her books, watched her shows or had the slightly knowledge on the French’s influence in our lunchboxes (metal or plastic). But Child would have shown up sometime after the Star-Spangled Banner on our local PBS affilate and before the end of the day’s watching — a Big Bird-sized woman with Mr. Rogers’ manners.
The voice must have made an impression as well. Of course it must have. A couple decades later, it still only takes preening eyebrows and the voice to pick up Cliff Huxtable’s Child on Cosby‘s early Thanksgiving episode. TV Tome supplies the exact wording:
Cliff: “First, you slice ever so gently along the grain, following the contour of the bird.”
Theo: “Dad, why are you talking like that?”
Cliff: “I have no idea; it’s just that it makes me feel more secure when I’m in the kitchen.”
And Theo gets to the voice later, teen squeakiness and all. On the Web, Whitney notes the moment in her Theo-love column, and a son remembers doing the voices with his late father. My inner monologue goes there too, anytime I’ve got to cook anything more complex than boiling water.
Not that boiling water is easy. I’m not proud of my reaction to the first time a pot of mine bubbled over. I’m no Julia Child. But in one of her books, she does describe the water boiling process — from tepid to shiver to rolling — so I don’t feel too misplaced with my concern. Or more existentially, like the French, I don’t feel too misplaced in my kitchen.
Ray Charles had Georgia on his mind and arrived in my mailbox this week. “Mr. Charles,” I said, “Get out of my mailbox!” We both had a good laugh and dueted on the ending of “Hit the Road, Jack.” It was beautiful.
Anyway, the “Very Best of” CD made me think. You know you’ve seen a lot of Cosby Show when you can’t hear his “(Night Time Is) The Right Time” without picturing Theo coming down the stairs and Rudy lip-synching, “Baay-bay! Baay-bay!”
The Muppets return to Henson family control got me thinking about what a goliath they’ve been in the last half-century of worldwide puppeteering. Between the base Muppets, the Fraggles and the Sesame Streeters in every language, there isn’t much room for anybody else.
Not that the competition has been tough, of course. Alf couldn’t hold Kermit’s Sesame Street News notepad. But there have been some worthy of respect and of more recognition than they have today. Here’s my top five non-Muppet puppet list, in no particular order:
1. Pepe Locuaz – picture
I choose Univision’s “Loquacious Pepe” from a non-Spanish-speaking viewer’s perspective. Hablo un poco espaÃ±ol pero no mucho. Although mostly incomprehensible to me, Pepe succeeds on the Zeppo, the least expressive, end of the Marx scale. If you haven’t seen Pepe in his various Univision roles — I’m pretty sure I’m familiar with him from Sabado Gigante — then think of Sam the Eagle crossed with Guy Smiley. Professionalism interrupted by brief bouts of insanity.
2. Senor Wences’ hand puppets – picture
The hand puppets, boxed and otherwise, of master ventriloquist Senor Wences are the first of the two Ed Sullivan-appearing selections on my list. I blame Elvis, pre-Blockbuster Erols Video and the late WFTY’s rerun budget for my Ed affliction. I also blame my love of spinning plates. Returning to the subject: Wences differentiated himself from the ventriloquists I had seen on TV before (before age 12 or so). Instead of doing the Charlie Bergen, dummy-on-the-knee style, Wences offered himself to his puppets as a psychologist. The touchy-feely interaction offered a strange amount of reality in the sometimes-supernatural amount of star power on the Sullivan show. In America’s run to splintering audiences, Wences was a unifier worthy of both vaudeville and Comedy Central. The county was moving away from World War II’s “us” and toward the 1970’s Me Generation, but Wences asked about “you” and how you were doing. “S’ok?” “S’alright.”
3. Topo Gigio – picture
In the waning days of European ethnic stereotypes, before the silent majority found new opposition, there would be Topo Gigio, “The Little Italian Mouse.” His Ed Sullivan appearances and own appearance were unique. Although less than a foot tall, he popped in with the tiny, accented squeak of a full-ranged man high on helium, theater paint fumes and overdone marinara. But there was something basely appealing in that. Like any swooning toddler, he was cute in his contagious giddiness. Some detractors have pointed to his 1963 debut as when Sullivan jumped the shark, essentially comparing Gigio to the kid-friendly additions of the Cosby Show (Olivia) and Scooby Doo (Scrappy); but having missed living through that time, to me Gigio seems to have been the perfect add to an aging vaudeville formula. The televised cartoon was on the rise forward, and Gigio countered their parries with context. He wanted Eddie to kiss him goodnight. On Sunday nights, the accent aside, the mouse’s loving and frantic pleas segued warmly into the youngest demo toddling off to bed.
4. Daniel Striped Tiger – picture
Daniel Striped Tiger wore a watch and lived in a clock, yet his problems in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe were mostly emotional instead of logistical. He showed us the difference between timid and neurotic — the timid keep their nerves to themselves; the neurotic tell everyone. And while Daniel Tiger was neurotic, that flaw was okay in his case. He was neurotic for our sake. Because we were the timid ones, if you remember, and we needed all the exposition of fear we could get. Just as fortunately, he also helped with the answers to our problem. Sounding like “a 3-year-old with a two-pack habit,” he scratched out his main lesson over and over again: “Ugga-mugga.” His secondary lesson was implicit: Wear a watch. A lot of love and little legwork.
The Captain hears the children sing, adds his baritone to the final verse and runs to catch Maria. He apologizes and asks her to stay. “If I could be of any help,” she says. “You have already,” he replies. “More than you know.” The next scene begins, and the lonely goatherd finds love. Lay-ee-odl, lay-ee-odl-oo.
Has anyone else been watching the Cosby Show marathon on Nick-at-Nite this week? Good, good television. I’m managing to catch some episodes between work on papers and projects, and it’s all been worth it. In addition to seeing good TV, it’s nice to realize that we weren’t always so ironic. Irony only gets you so far in the pursuit of comedy. At some point, you just have to be funny. (“Friends” fans, I love you despite your idiocy.)
Tom notes in my guestbook that I should have a mechanism to let people comment on my posts. I don’t think Blogger has this feature available yet. Until then, send me mail.