Classic TV · Media · TV

The Evening Routine

As I write this, it is roughly that time of the evening where I am and the hour before Midnight in London, England. I mention this because it is at this time of day, Monday through Friday, when I sit down to listen to Pumpkin FM. Pumpkin FM has several channels that cover a variety of nostalgic radio, some USA based, some U.K. based.

At this time of the weekday (night?) I sit back to enjoy the latest episodes of ‘Allo, ‘Allo and Are You Being Served?. Both of the very old BritComs are aired audio only allowing the listener to occupy hands otherwise while listening to some rather fun shows. It also allows your imagination to run a bit wild filling in the images.

If you have never seen, let alone listened to, these shows, please note they are vintage 1970 or 1980 shows that are more parody and farce. Please keep that in mind. 🙂

If you need to learn more, or have a refresher, check the following links:

‘Allo, ‘Allo

Are You Being Served?

Check out the schedules for the rest of Pumpkin FM channels. Among the variety of programming you will find comedies, serials, variety shows and a collection of crime dramas There is something for everyone.

Enjoy!

P.S.: If you are interested in actually watching these shows, check out imdb.com who will have the latest places to watch.

Movies · One of My Favorites

One of My Favorite Films: ‘Gladiator’

Rome, in one form or other, has been a part of my life for the better part of thirty years now. I consciously began my appreciation of Rome via the computer game Caesar III. That came about because of a version that arrived already loaded on a new computer. I still play it.

Later, in 2000, I finally got a chance to see a couple of films I’d heard about in actual theaters. While I enjoyed ‘Fantasia 2000’, it was ‘Gladiator’ that captured – and held – my attention.

Side Note

I need to step aside here for a moment to let you know that when something “captures my attention” it usually leads to an obsession that can last for years, involves lots (and lots) of research, and becomes a part of the fabric of my life in some way.

Now where were we? Oh, yes.

I’ve had a life-long fascination with the mechanics of creating film, theater, TV, and other forms of entertainment. It truly is an art form that can evolve to fit the need at the time. Ridley Scott makes amazing movies. The film is the result of years of experience tied with high tech graphics, top of the line performances, and a story that is both compelling and thought provoking. Not to mention a soundtrack that is one of Han Zimmer’s best.

The Story

In a nutshell, ‘Gladiator’ is the story of a Roman General, Maximus, who is at the top of his game. He is chosen by the current emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, to succeed him. Something Maximus doesn’t want and Marcus’ son Commodus, definitely does not want.

Commodus is so adamant that Maximus does not replace him, he murders his father and, when he takes the role of emperor and Maximus walks out on him instead of vowing loyalty, has Maximus’ family murdered and the general sent off into slavery.

What happens next is one of the best epic stories of the last 20 years. If you haven’t seen it,

You can find out more about the film by clicking here.

Rome was the first city to hold 1 million people. Ever.

To get a better idea of what Rome was and the impact it had on the world, check out this article from the Britannica: Click HERE

The idea of Rome, just like the idea of Greece, has been a part of most of our society and culture for millennia. These cultures have informed many of the choices and decisions made when we developed our own societies and cultures.

There is a lot of learn, absorb, integrate as we watch ‘Gladiator’. The film is one of those rare gems that allow us to glimpse a lost world and recall a time when things were very different, and very modern, to the world we live in.

At the end of the day, ‘Gladiator’ is a film that resonates on many levels and is worth taking the time to watch.

Media · TV

Memory Lane: The Big Bang Theory

Like millions of other folks, I tuned in every Thursday night to watch Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and the rest in the latest adventure on “The Big Bang Theory”. I even watched the reruns so much, I knew the script. 🙂

Even now, I enjoy a visit with the gang, but there are a few moments that stand out for me. Turns out Ms Mojo was thinking along the same lines:

Are some of these your favorites, too?

Now, I would add a few things. “Please pass the butter!” is a bit that is so beautifully rendered it is priceless. The scavenger hunt show is a particular favorite of mine.

Absolutely Brilliant!

These characters were drawn from people known to the creators of the show. I like to say (and still do) that I, too, know folks like those in the show. Their quirks, along with their passions, are what make them interesting. Not to mention, a lot of fun.

I’ve never been to a Comic Con, but I have been to more than a few fan conventions, so I get it. Maybe a bit more than I should, but I do get it.

Perhaps the best thing about The Big Bang Theory isn’t just the friendships but the window into a world of comic books, super heroes, fandom, along with that group of brilliant minds. When the writing was good, it was great fun.

What are your favorite episodes?

Books · Movies

Artemis Fowl

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that the Artemis Fowl book series, written by Eoin Colfer, is 20 years old. Frankly, it just doesn’t seem possible. And yet…

The books, aimed at a Young Adult audience, brought together mythical creatures and Humans in a way that we hadn’t really seen before. Not, at least, in the same way. Artemis is not your typical youngster. And that is the ultimate understatement.

If you are interested check out Eoin Colfer’s website: https://www.eoincolfer.com/artemis-fowl

I haven’t yet caught up with the later additions to the family saga; the Fowl Twins books, but I’ll be sure to add them to my list.

From Book to Film

I’d like to say I learned a valuable lesson with the Harry Potter books and films. That is, do not – Repeat: DO NOT – expect the film to be as detailed or intricate as the books.

I’m thinking it was around film 5 that the lesson might finally have become ingrained. But I could be in error there.

Lovers of books that are made into movies or TV shows run the not uncommon risk (?) of being disappointed. Why? Simple. Time. There simply is not enough time to take the book word by word and move it into a film medium.

It might sound simple and easy but the end result just can’t justify any part of that exercise. The time and cost to actually produce the filmed product would exceed every expectation and the end result would be a disaster. The first book in the Fowl series is not that long and the resulting film, with the necessary edits, etc., still resulted in a film under two hours. Most audiences won’t want to sit through a longer film

So, do not expect the book to be the film. In fact, one thing that helped me with the Potter films was to not read the book close to the time I watched the film. I gave my brain time to ‘forget’ things so when I watched the film, it was fresh and relatively new.

The Film

First, can I just say how amazing Judi Dench is? I never, ever sit down to watch her work and am not amazed at the end result.

Second, the casting of this film is amazing. I really, really, enjoyed each and every character – the performers brought so much to the table with their efforts.

Third, Kenneth Branagh has shown a level of skill, of deftness of touch, with this film. He kept the target audience (kids) in mind every second of the way, so the audience wasn’t overloaded with graphic monsters, dark and dank settings.

In short, he wasn’t playing to adults with the standard blow things up, excess violence, not to mention graphic gore with the plot secondary to all the special effects. From some of the reviews I’ve read, this seems to have confused folks a lot. <shrug>

Granted, he could have treated us to every second of Artemis searching for the language to unlock the query to find the … … … you get the idea. The film would have gone from under two hours to over three for that alone.

The film actually gives us every piece of information we need to understand what is happening in the story. Yes, a little more information about how certain things do, or don’t, work might have been helpful, Especially if the viewer isn’t a student of myth lore.

Overall, I liked the end result. It was just the right balance of material. It has a beautiful design and the soundtrack is delicious.

Since I am one who might end up nodding off or foraging when a film loses my attention, this was a pleasant change. No pauses. No napping. No foraging.

Final Thoughts

I recommend both the books and the film. I encourage you to remember to leave some space/time between the books and the film, but both are worth your time and attention. Don’t embark with any preconceived ideas, however. Let the story unfold as written.

Enjoy!

Media

Summer Viewing

Or, What Is There To Watch?

If you are like me, Summer isn’t all about being outside and spending loads of time away from home. Even when there isn’t a pandemic. I don’t do well in heat and my allergies just won’t accommodate all the outdoor flora and fauna.

All that being said, I like to find something I can dive into during the summer months. A few years ago I discovered Agents of S*H*I*E*L*D and it was a magical time! In past years, there was the possibility of catching up with reruns or finding new shows to capture my imagination. And the movies! Oh, my!

Now, we all know this past year has been not only chaotic for pretty much everything, it has kept many of us hanging when it came to series or films. I have no idea how much I’ve lost track of – and there was a time when I had 2 – yes 2 – VCRs fully programmed for each week. Sadly, I miss those days. It says a lot about the state of TV when that isn’t an option.

A Game Plan

Why am I thinking about this now, you ask? Simple. The other day I was browsing Disney+ and discovered, quite by accident, that a film I’d been looking forward to had already dropped on the platform and was waiting for me.

In what can only be described as a ‘head slap moment’, it occurred to me that if I’d overlooked my Watchlist there, what else have I been missing out on?

If you are like me, your Watchlist is probably tucked away, ignored or forgotten.

If you are a long time visitor here, you know I often talk about “Reset Days” – those times when we reset the modem, the Roku box(es) and revisit what we have lined up for channels or services. Well, here is an addendum to the Reset Days.

I’m going a bit old school and sitting down with pen and paper to collect my various Watchlists and combine them into one source where I can keep track of, and hopefully sit down to watch, what is on that master list.

One of the things that stands out about the various platforms is the variety of material they offer. Disney+ covers so much it is almost (?) overwhelming. Acorn and BritBox carry a lot of things most of us in the US are used to seeing on PBS, but they have more available in an easy to access format. PlutoTV has a wide variety of material including music videos and sports – and speaking of sports – Amazon has a lot of sports as well as Paramount+.

I mention this if you are contemplating cutting the cord but someone in your household is devoted to sports. There are a lot options available to help you curb that cable bill and you might not have to pick up a sports platform to do it.

There is also a bit of overlap. America’s Test Kitchen, for example, has its own Roku channel, but you can find episodes over on PlutoTV, Amazon, and PBS. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there are more options out there, either.

Which brings me back to the free streaming platforms. There are several free options that provide a lot of material covering a wide variety of categories. I’m going to be sure to add them to my Master List as I contemplate summer viewing.

I fully realize that some will think this is a bit silly, and it might be, but I challenge you to take a look at what you’ve added to your own Watchlists and see what you’ve missed or forgotten or ignored. I do have one series (Murdoch Mysteries – AcornTV) that I’ve deliberately tucked aside. The entire season (14) is there, along with all the others, so if you are new to the show, you can watch all of the earlier seasons and dive into the movies, too.

With Summer upon us and everything up in the air, I can now schedule my viewing so I don’t miss things I’ve wanted to see while not getting stuck in that boredom rut where I have no idea what’s on.

Care to join me?

Cord Cutting · Media · TV

Streaming Options: How to Pick A Device

For many people streaming has become a way of life. I, for one, have had some version of a Roku device for years. Why? I wanted flexibility and options in my viewing and didn’t want to be locked into a contract with a cable/satellite provider that set a price (that usually kept increasing) included channels I never watched, and routinely had carrier arguments with major networks that kept me from getting access to local news and weather.

Where I live, it is Essential to have access to the latest weather. Having my access tied to a cable system that might, or might not, be working just isn’t feasible. And, to be clear, I live in the middle of a metro area where such access shouldn’t be an issue. Some would say, just use your cell phone. Well, if that service isn’t working, either, then what?

I still use an over the air antenna for a lot of my viewing. Why? For many years it was an easy way to get local feeds – not to mention those extra digital channels – that hadn’t yet made the upgrade to a streaming feed. That being said, I spent decades having access to local PBS feeds only to lose it years ago when, for some inexplicable reason, all the PBS signals evaporated. At least my local PBS affiliate had no clue. I found my best access was either via streaming the PBS apps or subscribing to channels through Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon, their channel offerings are astounding. And the prices are usually quite competitive, too. Keep in mind, some think they are providing super luxury high end programming when really all they are doing is increasing price to keep the illusion of luxury. It works only if the consumer wants to pay for it. I don’t.

For some folks, however, cord cutting (getting rid of cable) and diving into streaming can be confusing and a bit scary. I’ve got articles on the blog about this, so be sure to check them out for more information.

As for finding a new Streaming Device, check out this article from TV Insider: How To Pick a Streaming Device. Good information with a tip or two that us long time users can find handy.

Things To Think About

As you consider making the change, take a few minutes to think about the following:

  • What network (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc.) do you primarily watch?
  • What types of programming do you prefer? Sports, cooking shows, documentaries, etc.
  • What networks from cable do you want to continue to use? Do they have their own streaming channel? Do they require a cable subscription?
  • Are you a binge watcher? If so, you might consider subscribing to a channel/network only long enough to catch all the episodes of a series that are currently available and then resubscribing when the next batch is available.
  • Are you a major fan of a franchise? Check out their home bases. Disney+, for example, has tons of material including Marvel, Star Wars, Muppets, in addition to the regular Disney fare. That service alone will keep many people happy for months just catching up, revisiting or exploring.

I’d suggest browsing the channel stores at Roku, Amazon, Google, and Apple+ to see what they offer and what is required. You will be surprised.

Around the House · Crafting · Food · Media · Musings

When Was The Last Time You

Thanks to a comment by Jackie Bolhuis recently, I replaced my stamp pads which brought me up to date and allowed me to get rid of old, well used pads. This got me to thinking about all the other things that tend to get put off until ‘later’.

Quilters / Sewers
  • Changed the needle in your machine
  • Gathered all your notions and put them in their assigned spots.
  • Sharpened scissors
  • Replaced blades on rotary cutters
  • Checked your UFOs and decided which to work on and which to discard
Cooks
  • Updated your inventory
    • What needs to be used in the freezer or fridge?
    • What needs to be replaced?
  • Checked the expiration dates on your spices
  • Reviewed those recipes you’ve saved ‘until later’
Media Review
  • Reset your modem
  • Reviewed the streaming channels you subscribe to
  • Checked those subscriptions you have but might not keep up with
  • Reviewed your calendar(s). What needs to be changed or removed and what can be added?
Holiday Preparation

Hard as it might be to imagine, now is the time to start thinking and planning for the Winter Holidays. Some projects that a lot of time while others might be managed at the last minute. Things to think about:

  • Sewing or Quilting Projects
    • Gather patterns, fabrics and notions
  • Paper Crafting
    • Holiday papers and inks are starting to appear
  • Homemade Gifts
    • Collect the recipes and put together a shopping list
    • Start collecting the necessary dry goods now
    • If you are planning on making fruitcakes, now might be a good time to start them.
Have I missed anything?

Let me know!

If this has been helpful, please let me know by clicking on the “Like” button! Thanks!

Classic TV · TV

Reconnecting with The Muppets

When I heard that “The Muppet Show” from the 1970s would be added to the Disney+ lineup I was thrilled. Any opportunity to visit with Kermit and Company is never wasted. Way back before I actually owned a working television set, I owned a TV Radio that played the audio from television channels. I would listen to the syndicated show every night and imagine what was going on. You could say I’m a fan. 🙂

I still watch Sesame Street to see the other part of the Muppet Family. Also, time well spent. (Like I said, I’m a fan.)

There is something timeless and classic about all the Muppet characters. Each is its own individual personality and together they are unique.

Check out this great article in the Los Angeles Times: HERE.

One thing I continue to comment on is the breadth and depth of material available on Disney+. Pretty much any and everything you can imagine is there. And if it isn’t… it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Musings · Podcasts

Podcast Review: Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown

Podcasts are relatively new territory for me. Many years ago I was a regular listener to a quilting podcast, but for a long time there wasn’t anything that captured my interest enough to invest the time to listen. Something I’m hoping to rectify in the future.

I’ve been looking for interesting (to me) podcasts lately and came across this new venture from Mayim Bialik. You might recall her from “The Big Bang Theory”. Turns out Amy Farrah Fowler was played by someone with an actual PhD in Neuroscience. Who knew?

I did, but then… <shrug> 🙂

There has been a lot of talk about Mental Health lately. Unless you are someone with actual experience dealing with it for yourself or a family member, I think it can be a topic that is confusing and often a bit scary. Actually, I’m pretty sure that even if you are someone with experience dealing with it for yourself or a family member it can be confusing and scary.

While I’m still catching up with the episodes – as of this writing there are six – I have been impressed with the way the topics are presented, the effort to explain what might seem unexplainable, and, most importantly, the guests and their honest and real experiences. It says a lot about the trust in the room for this to be able to work the way it does.

There is a lot of material to cover and these podcasts are not short – the average is 90 minutes. Check out Mayim’s website: Bialik Breakdown. There you will find tons of information and resources and you have access to podcasts and YouTube videos as well.

Check out the trailer and see what you think:

I think you will find, as I did, that there is a lot of food for thought here.