Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Oh what splendor

Filed under : Music,TV
On August 15, 2012
At 9:30 pm
Comments : 5

In our sometime series, “I do not think that song means what you think it means,” I present this commercial.

The song is about a couple who dream of moving on up out of poverty to a real two story home but work so hard to attain it and all the lovely objects that fill it, that they lose each other. So they end up having all the things and the status but no love. Just like George Jones and Tammy Wynette!


I also am posting it because I’m having a tough time in my life right now and this song reminds me of my childhood, of listening to country music on WHN with Brother2, and the lovely world you live in where your parents worry about you and not the other way around.

Also because I wouldn’t mind a two story house myself.

Full song:
George Jones and Tammy Wynette – Two Story House


When the glorious sunset of your heart is fading

Filed under : TV
On January 16, 2012
At 5:30 pm
Comments : 5

I am terrible at comforting people. People have actually told me this, and I believe them. I am not good at finding the right thing to say. But I am good at making people laugh. I like to think this is just as helpful. Please don’t disillusion me.

I have a signature to my posts on another site and sometimes people ask me where it’s from. Additionally, my network at home is called “Super Karate Monkey Death Car” and sometimes guests staying over and using my WiFi ask me why it’s called that. The answer to both is this sketch. I offer it in a selfish way, so that I could edit the scenes together (they are on YouTube but the sound and picture are really bad) and watch them from any computer whenever I felt low. If you are feeling low, I really have little that is comforting to say. But I do have this. And the promise that if you don’t laugh, I will buy you a beer.*

*seriously, you will get no beer.

There is no set up to this, it’s all explained within the first few lines. Some trivia:
1. The actor is Stephen Root, who also did the voice of Hank Hill’s boss in King of the Hill. He is genius in this show.
2. Off in the corner with Stephen Root at the beginning is the star of the show, Dave Foley, who is one of my idols. I could write a whole post about Dave Foley, but instead you can just read this.
3. Yes, that’s Ron Jeremy in the audience. They told the story of why he appeared there in the commentary of the Newsradio DVD’s but I can’t remember what it is. But come on, Ron Jeremy. (That comma is superfluous, isn’t it? Rimshot!)

So without any further ado, Jimmy James, CEO of Jimmy James Incorporated, will now read from his book, Jimmy James: Macho Business Donkey Wrestler.


I guess the lesson is, some day, the Super Karate Monkey Death Car will park in your space. But today, you can laugh and laugh.


Chapter two, so your pressure is dropping

Filed under : Life in general,TV
On August 26, 2011
At 2:15 am
Comments : 4

Are you on my coast? You know, the right one? If so, you may be stuck indoors this weekend with nothing to do and no baseball games to watch on TV. But don’t worry! I have dug up this old chestnut to fill five minutes of your confinement. And I cut it off once the serious part starts, so feel free to make some French toast with all that bread, milk, and eggs you bought, gather around the computer with your loved ones, and enjoy!

And remember, remain calm! You will all have a chance to be gouged!


Stay safe, everyone!


The cha-chung remains the same

Filed under : International,TV
On December 31, 2010
At 5:00 am
Comments : 9

(Editors note: This wasn’t really supposed to be the New Years’ post but it took me two days and four different programs/plugins to get my illustrative videos working. That is to say, if you don’t watch the short subjects at the end, I will cry. Unless you’re reading this on feed… or an iPad.)

I have talked a lot about the fact that I only watch old TV but one new(ish) thing I do watch is a sort of remake of something old, that is Law & Order UK. First off, we all know I’m an Anglophile, but second, the first season is all based on stories from the US version and I couldn’t resist seeing how they were Anglicized. By the way, I say newish because this show isn’t really new, it’s just new to me, as BBC America has just started showing the episodes here. Some of the British L&O’s are quite similar to their inspiration-episodes but others aren’t really at all. For instance, “Love and Loss” from Law & Order UK (my favorite ep so far) uses the US episode “Consultation,” as its basis but is an almost completely different story. In “Consultation,” a Nigerian woman dies in a cab coming from the airport after heroin she’s smuggling in her body leaks out. The plot then meanders around to the chief of her tribe (who lives in the US and has diplomatic immunity) and his drug operation. In “Love and Loss,” it’s a British citizen, a teenager who had gone abroad with friends, who has the heroin leak out (and her death is graphic and gross, be forewarned). That then leads to her older boyfriend and his use of young girls as drug mules. So, nearly the same starting point and idea but a whole different flavor of episode.

Some are more subtly different, like UK’s “Hidden” and US’s “Bitter Fruit.” The stories hew closely to each other (spoiler alert!), with a young daughter of divorced parents being kidnapped and the mother killing the perpetrator. Of course, it turns out that she had set up the whole thing to get back at her ex, the child’s father, and she kills the hired kidnapper to cover up her crime. In the US version, she’s driven to it by a bad divorce, depression, addiction to pills, and the loss of custody. In the British version, however, there’s no sympathy at all for her and she’s a total monster who wanted the child kidnapped so that she could make money off the story. It’s fun to guess why the writers choose to go in these separate directions but even more to try to figure out if something was done because of differing laws or culture. For starters, in the UK version, people use knives instead of guns (shockers) and more often than not, there’s CCTV footage to catch them. And when they’re interviewed, they get recorded. And if they’re immigrants, they’re from different countries than the immigrant characters in the US (more often Turkish or Polish or West Indian, rather than Latino). Also, the lawyers, I mean, the barristers, wear wigs and people stand when they give evidence in court. That would have been hard on Betty Broderick, whose trial I watched back in the day, and who seemed to testify for about three or four days straight. Maybe she wouldn’t have told so many long-winded stories.

But when you dissect the episodes, there are other differences which make you wonder. In “Bitter Fruit,” the parents are well-off, older, white people. In “Hidden,” they are young, working-class, and of different races. In the same way, the daughter, Jodie, was on her way to piano lessons in the US but a guitar lesson in the UK when she disappeared. But that makes sense once the first change is made because rich girls learn piano and lower middle-class girls learn guitar. It’s possible that the demographics of the parents were changed to make the “just in it for the money” plotline stand up, as it’s difficult to imagine the upper-crust mother in the US version being motivated by the possibility of selling her story to the tabloids. Of course, tabloids themselves don’t have the same resonance in the US.

This scene was my favorite to compare, as in both versions the same character is depicted but yet each woman is so totally an archetype of her country. In it, the two detectives corner the mother of the kidnapper trying to determine if her son actually visited her the night of the crime, when he left, and if there are any clues to be found. The mother is a working class, hard-bitten type, and she’s not at all fooled by the officers’ “aw shucks” innocent-seeming questions. Her son has been in jail before, she knows he’s no saint, but she will protect him no matter what. She isn’t giving anything away if she doesn’t have to.

In New York (well, Jersey, actually), Mrs. Capetti is an ethnic type and has an accent to match. She makes meatloaf for her son and the only time she warms up is when the detectives mention her television, which her son got her as a gift on which to watch the Jets. In London, Mrs. Carlton is a working-class (I don’t think Cockney is the right word… but something in that vein) Mum who makes roast pork and whose son bought her the TV to watch Chelsea. In the US, Mrs Capetti only lets the detectives into the closet after the threat of a warrant. Not so Mrs. Carlton. Do they not need warrants in the UK? Either way, both women have two newscasts to choose from but are too sharp to let slip which they watched and both keep sheets in mothballs… too bad for them, as you’ll see.





You’ll notice (maybe) that the stills I’ve chosen are the smirks on the lead detectives’ faces as they confront the lady in question with the damning evidence despite all her attempts at subterfuge. No matter the differences, the best things are the same about the two shows: great plots and terrific acting.

And so, now that I am posting this on New Years Eve, I wish you all a wonderful 2011, an end to technical difficulties, and some really good TV show marathons on your local cable system.


Hold me closer, Tony Danza

Filed under : News,The Internets,TV
On October 18, 2010
At 9:30 am
Comments : 3

I see a lot of TV, my TV is on all the time… and yet I watch almost nothing. I have no idea what’s on any of the big networks or what reality show everyone is buzzing about right now. Names go by in blog posts like Snooki and Taylor Momsen and it’s hard for me to know what makes them famous. But it wasn’t always this way. When I was a kid, I watched all the big primetime shows and the reruns of ones which had been on before I was born. Even now I can tell you the plots of almost every episode of The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, The Flintstones, Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Friends, Law & Order, and lots more. But somehow, by the time I got my first DVR in 2002, I wasn’t really watching episodic TV. I know this because I never once used the function (you who have TiVos may know it as Season Pass but there’s no particular name for it on the ReplayTV) which records an entire season of something. I suppose the closest I ever came was Lost, which I started watching because I have a thing about plane crashes. Anyone who has watched Lost knows it had about as much to do with aviation as Gilligan’s Island had to do with boating, but I felt good having something to talk about in the office kitchenette and on the Internet. Frankly, as I’ve said many times, I never had any idea what was going on at any time in that show.

I actually watched the very first reality show of the new generation, Survivor. In fact, on the ultimate show where the winner was decided, I had a guest visiting from Israel where Survivor was unknown and he could not believe that I wouldn’t go out until the show was over. “Don’t you have a VCR?” he asked (this was in, I think, 2000, remember). But I was too afraid of hearing it somewhere else. By the second season, it was devoid of any interest for me because everyone in it had seen the first season and knew how to play it. Of course, there were other reality shows and I have tried to like them. I liked Trading Spaces and Queer Eye For the Straight Guy but after a couple of seasons (or sooner) you realize it’s always the same show. I watched some of Flavor of Love, because I happened to flip past it one day and was stunned by its over-the-topness. I tried Biggest Loser and Wife Swap because they seemed like interesting concepts but in the end I just cringed and felt embarrassed for everyone on them. When I watch most reality TV, I feel like a voyeur, and maybe a little dirty. So I stopped watching most of them except sometimes Cake Boss, because, well, I like cake, and it’s often the only thing on in the middle of the night.

Nowadays, I mainly watch these things: local news (Pat Kiernan on NY1 specifically), magazine shows like 60 Minutes, sports, movies I have already seen, and reruns of shows I watched in the 80’s and 90’s. Again, I am not sure how this happened, even as I just traced the history of my waning interest in the last two paragraphs. And somehow, I, who was the person at the school lunch table who could skillfully dissect the plot of the previous evening’s Mork & Mindy, have become some sort of freak. And I am aware of this. It happened twice just this weekend. First, I had a Twitter conversation with Noshowmo were I felt like I was from Mars because I did not realize a comment about housewives in Beverly Hills was about a TV show. If you could tweet, “I am a moron, explain your tweet like I am a moron,” and not humiliate yourself, I probably would have done so.

Later, I had this conversation with my sister.
She: Have you watched Teach? I bet you’d love it.
Me: Oh, I saw a billboard at the US Open for that. Oh hey, does Tony Danza have the name Tony on the show?
(I then proceed to laugh uproriously at my own joke while my sister looks utterly blank)
She: Uh… yes… his name is Tony Danza
Me: But on the show! Is his name Tony?
She: Yes, it’s Tony Danza.
Me: Really? They just gave up and gave him his full real name?
She: It’s a reality show! He’s himself.
Me: Oh. Yes. Right.

I may actually find this show on the Internet. But this is part of the problem. You have to know what’s going to be good or big if you want to join in the global conversation. Somehow, by the time you find out it’s 30 Rock or The Office, it’s too late. I don’t have Netflix or the time to watch DVDs of five years of a show. And let’s face it, half the fun is being able to discuss the show with other people. When I had HBO, it was easy. A show would come on, it would be made clear to you that This Is A Big Show! Watch This Show! And there would be a manageable season of eight or ten episodes that you could handle. This is why, aside from Lost, the last series (serieses?) with which I kept up were Big Love, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Six Feet Under. So now I am that freak. That freak who understands no cultural reference and doesn’t even get the joke because she doesn’t know the name of a hugely popular (apparently) TV show.

Speaking of TV news, last week I watched a lot of Chilean miner coverage, but I watched it on the Internet. In fact, I got into a tussle with a technology writer I very much admire, Farhad Manjoo, who writes for Slate. I’ll have to put words in his mouth because it was on Twitter and all statements were 140 characters or less, but he seemed to be saying that I was only getting meaning out of what I was seeing because it had been so hyped. Even when I explained that I was seeing an unedited raw feed from the mine with no voiceover, he claimed that my emotional response was manipulated because I had already seen “a month of commentary.” I didn’t know how to say in 140 characters, “are you kidding? Did you notice that no one watches the news or reads the newspaper anymore? I read technology blogs and Gawker. And it wasn’t big on NY1 this month either; they’re more concerned with bedbugs.” It’s claimed that most people get their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert but I don’t even watch them unless someone posts an interesting clip online.

But, you see, it wasn’t until I had this conversation on Twitter that I realized I no longer watch CNN or MSNBC or even Fox, which is comforting to watch when something’s happening in Israel. I only get the weekend NY Times and I skim it. While I am cooking or baking, I listen to 1010 WINS in the kitchen, but that’s mostly local news, as well. So wow, I am that person. I get my news from blogs. And Twitter. I’m following a trial, the one for the murder of the Petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut, almost exclusively on Twitter. I have a list of all the reporters I could find who are tweeting from the courtroom (it is here) and I have that page open all day. Every now and then I will check back and see what is happening and if it’s a big moment, I stay for a bit. Back in the day, I watched the OJ trial on TV, just like everyone else. I was working at my first label and my boss had a TV. When she was out, which was often, my co-worker and I would eat lunch in her office and watch the trial. But somehow, this is better, because frankly, it’s a gruesome trial and I don’t need to hear every detail, I am just curious about the case and the way it is built and tried (you may remember I like Law & Order as well). But it’s like instantaneous reporting from ten different people and it’s an amazing thing. So much so, that the NY Times covered it. Sometimes I look at the Times app on my iPod, so I get some news there, too. In this case, I saw on my iPod that the NY Times had recognized that people are getting their news from Twitter.

Yesterday, I laughed at someone on Twitter for not getting a visual joke that’s been going around about the Gap logo redesign. And that’s when it hit me: I know every Internet meme and I can tell you what happened at the Windows Smartphone press conference, but I didn’t really know much about the Chilean miners until I happened upon a discussion of it on a forum, whereupon, I flipped to and watched a streaming video. I have replaced almost every form of media in my home with something viewable on a device with software and memory.

I haven’t yet decided if this is a good thing, but as soon as I do, I’ll be sure to let you know here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Elton John – (Hold me Closer) Tiny Dancer