Teevee; remembering Dee, Gwynn, Kasem, Noll

televisionI was watching JEOPARDY! per usual. But this was strange: in the six days between June 6 and June 13, inclusive, none of the contestants got the Final correct in five of them, whereas I KNEW four of them, and guessed correctly on the fifth. The one question I got wrong, two of them got right.

These are the six final answers:

20th CENTURY AMERICANS: In 1911 Glenn Curtiss received this document Number 1.
THE MEDITERRANEAN: It’s the only U.N. member country in the Mediterranean where English is an official national language.
SCIENTISTS: As a humorous tribute, an astronomical term equivalent to at least 4 billion has been named for him.
CAPITAL CITY WORDPLAY: Ending in the same 2 letters, these 2 are capitals of a nation that covers a continent & of a nation reaching onto 2 continents.
CURRENT TELEVISION: George Romero declined to direct a few episodes of this series, calling it “basically…just a soap opera”
FOREIGN AFFAIRS: William Sullivan retired from the Foreign Service in 1979; he was the last U.S. Ambassador to this country.

Which one did I get wrong? If you guessed CURRENT TV, you’d be right. Not only don’t I watch that much TV, even when I read about it, it generally doesn’t stick. Even though I knew who George Romero was – creator of Night of the Living Dead – I had no recollection what the TV show was called.

This is not a complaint. It’s just an observation that, for someone who used to be able to quickly fill out the TV Guide crossword puzzle, I doubt I’d get it half finished, especially since I’m not reading TV Guide (pretty much since it changed size to standard magazine format) or Entertainment Weekly (in the last 18 months), I’m pretty much out of the loop unless it’s a big story.

The truth of the matter is that the stuff that’s REALLY interesting to me shows up on YouTube. I don’t even seek it out; it’s either in a newsfeed, or occasionally, on someone’s Facebook.

For instance, John Oliver’s show is on HBO. I don’t have HBO, and I don’t WANT HBO; don’t have time to watch it, even if it weren’t an extra charge. But I get to see him bash the owner of the Washington, DC American football team and note the importance of net neutrality.

Jaquandor was ranting about a current Apple commercial. I fully understand his sentiment; as the fat kid who couldn’t climb the rope or do a chin-up, I found gym a humiliating experience, and Mr. Lewis, my gym teacher for five years, a sadistic schmuck. What surprises me is that, somehow, I managed to miss the original Chicken Fat campaign from the 1960s, when I watched LOTS of TV.
***
How does one develop sports rooting interests, or antipathy? Beyond the geographic proximity, it can be a number of factors. I was rooting for the New York Rangers to beat the LA Kings for the Stanley Cup (NHL hockey), but it was not to be; NYC is only 150 miles away. My rooting for the San Antonio Spurs over the Miami Heat in the NBA (basketball), who had won the previous two years, was based more on disdain for Miami, who stacked the deck pretty much the way the New York Yankees did in when George Steinbrenner owned the team. Yet, I never hated the Yankees; proximity, and the fact that the very first major league baseball game I saw was at Yankee Stadium (NYY beat the Washington Senators, 4-3) won out.

One of my favorite American football teams not playing in New York or New Jersey was/is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even when they won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, I still liked them. It couldn’t have been because two of their players, Franco Harris (1950) and Lynn Swann (1952) shared my birthday, as I didn’t know that at the time. Maybe it was because they were rather mediocre before that run. I was sorry to read that Chuck Noll, coach of those SB wins, died last Friday at the age of 82.
Gwynn-SI-HOF-cover
But I was REALLY sad to read that baseball player Tony Gwynn died Monday of salivary gland cancer at the age of only 54. He was a class act, playing his whole career with one club, the San Diego Padres. He was a model of consistency as a hitter, which got him into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and was apparently a terrific guy. I actually saw him play a few times, when I would visit my sister in San Diego, and we would catch a game; I’ve been to the San Diego stadium more times than any other major league facility. I always regretted the 1994 baseball strike, in part because I wanted to know if Tony would hit .400; he ended the shortened season at .394. Here’s Ken Levine’s great tribute to Tony Gwynn.

I listened to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 radio program/Top 10 TV show, on and off, for decades. It was fun because he really seemed to enjoy his work. I think I actually got subscriptions to Billboard in the 1980s partly because of him. Another Ken Levine tribute.

I loved Ruby Dee in the movies A Raisin in the Sun and Do The Right Thing, the TV miniseries Roots, and a whole lot more. But it was also the leadership of Ruby and her late husband Ossie Davis in the civil rights struggle that had a great impact on me. They both received Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.
Here’s Ruby Dee on the Psyche of Black America. Also, a PBS program called With Ossie and Ruby, an episode featuring the late Gil Scott-Heron (circa 1981) – Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.

Oh, those JEOPARDY! solutions:
A pilot’s license
Malta
Carl Sagan
Canberra (Australia) and Ankara (Turkey)
The Walking Dead – that one I got wrong
Iran

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s