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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: television, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 595
26. The Laugh Track

When did they make the last truly funny show? Has there been anything funny created in two decades or are they simply repeating the same thirty minute plotlines with different characters? The real question is, are they still using the same crazy laugh track from I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith show? We are […]

5 Comments on The Laugh Track, last added: 5/27/2014
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27. Celebrate Torsten’s “Nerd Birthday” With His Crazy Party Favors!

Everyone has milestone events which they remember (or wish to forget).  Some are small memories, like a first kiss, while others can be momentous anniversaries marked each year.

May 25th is one such day for me.This Star Wars Day/International Towel Day marks thirty years of my actively reading, collecting, studying, proselytizing comics.  May 25, 1984, I walked into a grocery store, and was instantly seduced by a black-suited Spider-Man.It’s the day I became a nerd/geek.  Sure, there were things before which I geeked about, like most kids.  But comics…that set me on a crazy journey around the world, meeting some amazing people, sharing my passion with everyone who would listen!

But comics aren’t my only geek passion!

I’m a polymath, soaking up all sorts of crazy stuff!

Here are some of my crazy interestest, and some crazy links you might not have realized existed!  (Or blotted out in your youth to save on psychiatry bills!)

Comics

Geez…  so much is out there already… what can I find…?

Comics retailing!    The architects!  How to get there!

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LEGOs

The wiki.

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The Lego Millennium Falcon graphic novel!

(Take THAT, Ikea!)

Adam Reed Tucker, the genius behind the Lego Architecture series!

MAD Magazine

Why MAD doesn’t release these digitally…?

And here’s the unaired 1974 pilot…

Video Games

If you want to really delve into the history of videogames, read:

Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971-1984 By Van Burnham

Here’s a site for laserdisc arcade games, including one of early anime!

Reading

Go study and read everything by Ellen Raskin.  Had she not died at 56, she might have been the first author to win a Newbery and a Caldecott Medal.  She wrote, drew, and designed books, and all are worth a few hours escape.

Animation

Remember Saturday morning cartoons?  Remember when the networks would air a special the Friday night before, to introduce the new series?  Yeah, they were usually pretty cheesy… here are three samples…

Superman meeting Bugs Bunny and Yogi Bear, at a party thrown by Avery Schreiber and Jack Burns?

ALF playing detective?

Boss Hogg trying to swindle Scott Baio out of his discoteque?

Ah… to return to those innocent naive days when I hadn’t yet developed a critical eye.  (Yes, I thought the Star Wars Holiday Special was spectacular when it first aired.  Now, I think I can last five minutes before revealing the location of the  rebel base, Gilligan’s full name, and the lyrics to “Louie Louie”.)

If you’re really into pain, check out “Shirt Tails”, “Get Along Gang”, and/or “Care Bears”.

Cable Television

Weekend nights, USA would show “Night Flight”, an interesting mix of music videos, short films, and cult classics.  MTV might have been cool, but Night Flight was hep.  Here’s a memorial site.

And a playlist from YouTube:

Comedy

The comedy record to seek out: “Retail Comedy @ Wholesale Prices“!  Here’s a sample: “Mr. Wizard and Timmy”.  The entire album is comedy gold!

(Right, Don.)

Music

I’ve got a predilection for TV themes, especially the full versions which cut out stanzas so there would be more time for story and commercials.

I’ve made a series of posts over on Google Plus, with the tag #forgottentvlyrics.  Star Trek, Andy Griffith, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie…

Here’s one of my favorites, first heard during the end credits to the Buck Rogers movie!  If it was remixed, it would make a great graduation song!

That’s all for this year!  Hope you had a great time!  Thanks for stopping by!

 

5 Comments on Celebrate Torsten’s “Nerd Birthday” With His Crazy Party Favors!, last added: 5/28/2014
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28. The Normal Heart and the resilience of the AIDS generation

By Perry N. Halkitis


On 25 May 2014 and nearly 30 years after first appearing on the stage, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart will be aired as a film on HBO. This project, which has evolved over the course of the last three decades, documents those first few harrowing years of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. The Normal Heart debuts at a time when much attention is being cast upon the early days of AIDS and the lives of gay men, who survived the physical and emotional onslaught of this disease in a society that often shunned us because we were gay and because we were afflicted with this disease.

Now a generation of gay men, my generation—the AIDS Generation—stands proudly as testament to our individual and collective resilience which has brought us all into middle age. Certainly there have been huge hurdles along the way—too many deaths to enumerate, the havoc that the complications of this disease wreaked on our bodies, the lack of support. Even today, darkness and disrespect lurks in every corner, and no one is immune. For some in our society, identifying what is wrong with us as gay men comes to easily. We are reminded of it daily as right wing zealots fight against marriage equality, as young boys take their lives. Despite these conditions, despite the inaction of our national and local politicians, and despite a large yet ever-shrinking segment of our society that continues to view us as weak and sick, we stand together as a testament to the fortitude of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

The theme of resistance or resilience permeates the words, the thoughts, and the actions of the protagonists in The Normal Heart and many depictions of the AIDS epidemic.

Taylor Kitsch as GMHC President President Burce Niles in HBO's The Normal Heart. (c) HBO via thenormalheart.hbo.com

Taylor Kitsch as GMHC President President Burce Niles in HBO’s The Normal Heart. (c) HBO via thenormalheart.hbo.com

Behavioral and psychological literature has attempted to delineate sources of resilience. Dr. Gail Wagnild posits that social supports in the form of families and communities foster resilience in individuals. I also adhere to this idea. Although the sources of resilience are still debated in the literature, there is general agreement that resilience is a means of maintaining or regaining mental health in response to adversity the ability to respond to and/or cope with stressful situations such as trauma, conditions that characterize the life of the men of the AIDS Generation.

For many of the men of the AIDs Generation, grappling with their sexuality was closely tied to the development of their resilience. In other words, resilience developed in their childhoods as young men grappling with their sexuality as stated by Christopher: “I also think that wrestling with my own sexuality and trying to navigate through that in my teenage years taught me how to just ‘keep pushing’ and to do what needed to be done.” Some, including myself, found support among our families. Even if parents were loving and supportive, this did not ameliorate the burdens experienced being raised in a heteronormative and often-discriminatory world in which men were portrayed as weak, effeminate, and sickly.

As we watch The Normal Heart, we will be reminded of those dark, confusing early days of the epidemic. And while we must celebrate the resilience of a generation of gay men to fight this disease, we must also be reminded of our obligation to create a better world for a new generation of gay men, who despite our social and medical advances, need the love and support of their community of elders as the navigate the course of their lives.

Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, MS, MPH is Professor of Applied Psychology and Public Health (Steinhardt School), and Population Health (Langone School of Medicine), Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies, and Associate Dean (Global Institute of Public Health) at New York University. Dr. Halkitis’ program of research examines the intersection between the HIV epidemic, drug abuse, and mental health burden in LGBT populations, and he is well known as one of the nation’s leading experts on substance use and HIV behavioral research. He is the author of The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience. Follow him on Twitter @DrPNHalkitis.

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0 Comments on The Normal Heart and the resilience of the AIDS generation as of 5/25/2014 4:16:00 AM
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29. Comic Book Men is finally looking for come Comic Book Women

AMC’s Comic Book Men is a ratings success in its post Walking and Talking Dead time slot, but it still gets flak. One of the oft-cited issues with the show is that by the very title, it represents an obviously outmoded way of looking at the comic book industry. To wit, women are flooding into the comic book field as readers and creators and already make up about 40% of the potential audience.

Perhaps to reflect the wider audience—and to add a different look from the generally middle-aged white guy cast members—the show is putting out a casting call for women to come in and sell their geeky items for the upcoming fourth season. CBM has become a geekier Pawn Stars/Antiques Roadshow (as so many shows do) so this is a great chance to sell those Yogi Bear jelly jars* you’ve been hoarding all those years.

Info is in the attached flyer, but you can go to http://comicbookmencasting.com/ to apply.

Produced by Kevin Smith, the show features the employees of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Redbank, NJ, which Smith also owns. The show generally features folks coming in with some item of perceived nerd value, and being quizzed “What did you want to get for it?” by manager Walt Flanagan. And then the cast sits down and argues about comic books. Pretty simple stuff, so those interested should go for it.

*This example is in no way based on personal experience.
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Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC

9 Comments on Comic Book Men is finally looking for come Comic Book Women, last added: 5/22/2014
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30. 90′s nostalgia culminates with TWIN PEAKS: THE ENTIRE MYSTERY

My log saw something—and it’s wrapped in plastic. Could it be….TWIN PEAKS: THE ENTIRE MYSTERY, a new Blue Ray set that includes the long lost 90 minutes of missing and alternate footage from Fire Walk With Me?

Between Hill Street Blues, justout on Blu-Ray, and Twin Peaks, you have the momma and poppa of everything you like on TV now. Hill Street Blues introduced the ongoing storyline format, recurring characters and jarring, gritty drama. Twin Peaks introduced great direction, lingering mysteries and eccentric humor.

Unearthing the dark secrets of a seemingly normal town somewhere in the primordial rain forests of Washington State, Twin Peaks followed the lantern jawed G-men and angora-sweatered high school girls as they confronted dreams, darkness and dwarves. Following up on the themes from Blue Velvet, director David Lynch made a show so addictive that Agent Cooper’s coffee fixation is said to have helped fuel the Starbucks boom.

Twin Peaks proved that you didn’t have to explain EVERYTHING for a show to make sense. Unfortunately, network executives of the time (1990-1991) did not get this and forced creators Lynch and Mark Frost to solve the central mystery of Laura Palmer’s death. The result was a silly show that had its guts ripped out and ended smack dab in the middle of a cliffhanger never to be resolved. The show was followed by a film called TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME that was, um, confusing, borderline awful. BUT NOW FINALLY the truth can be revealed as CBS is releasing a 7 disc Blue Ray set that includes 90 minutes of out takes and an alternate ending supervised by Lynch himself:

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking cult phenomenon, TWIN PEAKS — THE ENTIRE MYSTERY, arrives on Blu-ray July 29th with the debut of nearly 90 minutes of deleted/alternate scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The long-awaited missing pieces from the original version of the film is often referred to as the “holy grail” of Twin Peaks fandom, and can only be found as part of this collection.

Presented as a feature-length experience, “The Missing Pieces” has been directed and edited by Lynch exclusively for this release. Capping off more than 30 deleted/alternate scenes is an epilogue providing a fascinating glimpse beyond the cliffhanger finale of the TV series.

With the July 29th timing, I’d expect to see ALL the stops run out for this at San Diego. Just a guess. And I need to be at that party!!!

Twin Peaks and Buffy are the cornerstones of 90s nostalgia. I rewatched the entire Twin Peaks opus five or six years ago and it held up amazingly. I can’t help but wonder why networks are so much smarter now? I guess HBO showed that you could do smart television without second guessing the people making it, and everyone followed suit.

Twin Peaks may have been equalled but never surpassed, and just in time for flannel shirts and doc martins, the original is back.

CBS Video has set up a tumblr called andthemissingpieces.tumblr.com/ where you can follow along at home.

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11 Comments on 90′s nostalgia culminates with TWIN PEAKS: THE ENTIRE MYSTERY, last added: 5/20/2014
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31. First look at Rose McIver in iZombie

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This future CW show will be appearing as a mid-season replacement so ther’es a ways to go. But in the menatime, here’s Rose McIver in the title roll of iZombie, based on the Chris Roberson Mike Allred comic. Hopefully there will be mroe Allred-ian touches to come.

0 Comments on First look at Rose McIver in iZombie as of 5/16/2014 1:54:00 AM
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32. Comics’ secret economy: animation hiring boom

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While walking around TCAF a ton of conversations I overheard involved boarding, backgrounds and other animation type gigs. One publisher even wondered aloud what would happen if Adventure Time went off the air. And this Deadline story tells the story: LA-Area Animation Jobs At All-Time High. While there’s lots of film work, it’s also in TV:

Jobs in TV animation are also on the rise. “The work has really increased on the television side,” Hulett said. “There’s more storyboard work and design work, and it’s all driven by animation’s profitability. Animated television shows have been a great cash cow and profit stream for the conglomerates. They can make them for at a competitive price, and they have a long shelf life.” New media is also creating jobs for animation workers, he said, noting that DreamWorks is producing Internet content for Netflix. Hulett noted that the good times in animation are creating many good-paying jobs for other workers in the industry as well, including voice-over actors, editors, and sound technicians. “The growth here,” Hulett said, “is coming from all the preproduction work – the storyboards, layout, animation scripts, character design and key backgrounds.”


I can’t even keep count of how many indie cartoonists make a living doing animation work, but the number of them moving to LA is an indication, as is this Tumblr post which asks: WHY IS STEVEN UNIVERSE SUCH AN AMAZING SHOW?!

mc-burnett:

BECAUSE REBECCA SUGARIAN JONES-QUARTEYKAT MORRISBEN LEVINJOE JOHNSTONJEFF LIUPAUL VILLECORAVEN MOLISEELAMAR ABRAMSALETH ROMANILLOSHELLEN JOHILARY FLORIDOKATIE MITROFFELLE MICHALKADANNY HYNESCOLIN HOWARDANGIE WANGSTEVEN SUGAREMILY WALUSJASMIN LAIAMANDA WINTERSTEINTIFFANY FORDEFRAIN FARIASKEVIN DARTSTU LIVINGSTONLAUREN ZUKE, LAUREN HECHT, MATTANIAH ADAMSNICK DEMAYOJACKIE BUSCARINO, CAROLYNA ROBEZZOLI, ALAN PASMANCHRISTY COHEN, LISA ZUNICH, CHUCK AUSTEN, CARDER SCHOLINAIVI & SURASSHU AND A BUNCH OF AMAZING FREELANCERS, OVERSEAS ANIMATORS AND POST-PRODUCTION PEOPLE AND ALSO THE WHOLE CAST HAVE WORKED REALLY HARD TO MAKE IT AMAZING!!!!!!!!

How many familiar names can YOU spot there? Chuck Austen!

3 Comments on Comics’ secret economy: animation hiring boom, last added: 5/19/2014
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33. FLASH trailer debuts

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Looks like he’ll be running…and FAST.

Seriously, this is a fine trailer. And I don’t even like the Flash. And the Arrow crossover possibilities are endless.

Grant Gustin will be playing the title character, Barry Allen, and he’s evidently a jolly sort who likes his powers.

The Flash previously appeared in a one season TV show that ran in 1990 starring John Wesley Shipp. No one really talks about this show any more, but it ran in the “Dark Ages” too soon for the internet, too late for nostalgia.

3 Comments on FLASH trailer debuts, last added: 5/16/2014
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34. Three minute long Constantine trailer released

The first three minute look at Constantine, the upcoming NBC series based on the Hellblazer comics, has been released and there is good and there is bad.

I liked the callouts to actual comics, like the insect covered call of the very first issue, and the angel winged Mannym as played by Harold Perrineau. OBviously there were a lot of Glenn Fabry covers floating around on the set. THe story is set in NYC which I guess I can live with — filming in London would have been too expensive. The actual filming looks like Vancouver, but that’s typical.

I was only half convinced by Matt Ryan as Constantine. He looks the part but his line reading were as stiff as frozen maple syrup. And I know a Scouse accent would be unacceptable on American TV, but Ryan’s native Welsh accent came through most of the time. I guess most people expect him to sound like the Geiko Gecko (Cockney) but I’m sure this will grow on me.

The action looked Vancouver TV level, but faithful to the feel of the book. So rest assured when it debuts on Friday nights this fall I’ll be there to set my DVR!

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4 Comments on Three minute long Constantine trailer released, last added: 5/17/2014
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35. Fox releases first trailer for GOTHAM

Fox and WB just released the very first trailer for this falls GOTHAM tv show!

With great hesitation and uncertainty, I would tag this as “Nolan-esque.”

And why not? The Christopher Nolan Batman movies are the benchmark now. Gotham has been ordered for a full season this fall on Fox, and it’s billed as “an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told.” Ben McKenzie stars as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Jada Pinkett Smith as mob boss Fish Mooney, Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth, David Mazouz as young Bruce Wayne and Camren Bicondova as young Selina Kyle. The PR also mentions “one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.” Gotham begins.

As you can see, this is a dark, gritty serious take on Batman, with all the villains as youngsters just discovering how evil they can be, and Gordon taking a grieving Bruce under his wing. This is really a nobrainer for a TV show provided it lives up to its promise.

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9 Comments on Fox releases first trailer for GOTHAM, last added: 5/7/2014
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36. The Beat Podcasts! More To Come Captain America 2 Special

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Straight from the offices of Publishers Weekly, it’s More to Come! Your podcast source of comics news and discussion starring The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In this week’s very special podcast the More to Come Crew – Heidi “The Beat” MacDonald, Calvin Reid and Kate Fitzsimons – discuss the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, its positive impact on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and compare Warner Bros.’s DC Comics movie slate to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, all on PW Comics World’s More To Come.

Now tune in Fridays for our regularly scheduled podcast!

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the PublishersWeekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

1 Comments on The Beat Podcasts! More To Come Captain America 2 Special, last added: 5/2/2014
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37. Syfy getting comical with Ronin, Clone, Letter 44 and PaxRomana

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The Syfy Channel has generally been left out of the comic book mania gripping Hollywood, although they’ve had various stuff in development over the years. But now they’re going all in with FOUR projects in development including Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Ronin, an often assayed but never conquered peak.

This time out Warners Horizon is developing it as a mini-series. The original was a complicated story about a reincarnated ronin who comes to a futuristic city to fight a demon. Darren Aronofsky once took a crack at making a Ronin movie, and a later movie version has been languishing for a long time. Frank Miller has been out of favor in Tinsel Town for a while but I guess 300: Rise of Empire did okay so he’s “in” again.

Also in development:

Clone, based on the Skybound comic by David Schulner  and Juan Jose Ryp. Robert Kirkman is aboard as executive producer. The story involves a retired soldier who has to fight a clone of himself. Schulner, who was involved in the recent Dracula and Ironside tv shows, will write and produce himself.

Letter 44, based on the Charles Soule/Alberto Albuquerque book about a new US president dealing with aliens and such. Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) will write and direct.

Pax Romana by Jonathan Hickman, about a Vatican-led plan to travel back in time and improve things via warfare. Federman & Stephen Scaia (Jericho, Warehouse 13, Human Target) are writing the script.

Note to self: time to reread Ronin.

4 Comments on Syfy getting comical with Ronin, Clone, Letter 44 and PaxRomana, last added: 5/4/2014
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38. Game of Boobs

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If you’re not a devoted Game of Thrones watcher, please move away.

Sean T. Collins has a post about the recent rape problems on the show that kind of echoes what I’d been thinking. Basically, that the Jamie/Cersei rape scene wasn’t necessarily a fatal misstep, given that we don’t know where these characters are going…but the problem is that it probably wasn’t meant to be a rape scene by the producers, a view supported by the confused interviews they’ve given about the scene in question.

Collins also brings up the real problem in the matter: HBO’s titty mandate. This was on display in True Detective, where the completely gratuitous and jarring T&A sex scenes gave the impression that this was a story complicit in the demeaning attitudes about women it was actually exploring. Creator Nic Pizzolatto said as much when he was quizzed on the lack of female characters. There is no problem with a wonderful piece of storytelling that follows two great characters who happen to be men; but when unnecessary bare breasts are thrown in, the entire enterprise gets an unseemly tacky element. (Also, the all male police department of the 90s amused me — it’s the 90s not the 30s fer gawd’s sake, even if it is Louisiana.)

I haven’t read the Game of Thrones books (yes yes, I know…….) but it’s often mentioned that one of George R. R. Martin’s themes is is the suffering caused by brutality against women and brutality in general. The TV version retains that, but, once again, the endless sexposition undermines the message. As someone I was watching it exclaimed the other night, “Oh, a glass of wine! We’ll be seeing titties soon!” And indeed, whenever someone is relaxing with a glass of wine, a good shag is about to follow 80% of the time.

Martin’s books are actually coming from a more evolved place than HBO, which operates under the assumption that to be adult you’ve got to show naked ladies. Serves them right that so many times, it turns out to be Lena Dunham.

15 Comments on Game of Boobs, last added: 5/1/2014
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39. Almost Human cancelled — but you can sign a petition

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Well, to no one’s surprise, Almost Human, the SF show about two guys driving around talking about their nads, has been cancelled by Fox. Although it launched with strong ratings—and was the fourth most popular new drama of the last season—Fox declined to pick up the JJ Abrams-production, even though the follow-up program, The Following, which had similar ratings, will go to a third season.

While I haven’t seen any behind the scenes reports, watching the show made it clear that Fox didn’t know what to do with it. They aired all the episodes out of order, switching from a heavily-storyline oriented show to a more routine police procedural with futuristic trappings (including liberal use of images and even sound stings from Blade Runner). The cost of the SFX also varied wildly as the season progressed. One thing that didn’t change was the great chemistry of the cast, though, and that’s what made it a favorite at Stately Beat Manor, as at other nerdly households. Not enough, alas. Plus of course, Karl Urban, who is a born leading man for TV or PS3 or Amazon or whatever you’re watching. Apparently he didn’t like the weekly grind of making a TV show, though, so I think it will be a little while before we see him back on a weekly basis. Sigh.

There is a petition to bring the show back at Change.org, so if it makes you feel better go sign it.

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7 Comments on Almost Human cancelled — but you can sign a petition, last added: 5/1/2014
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40. Press Release: Screen Free Week is May 5-11

SFW-logo-with-2014-dateScreen-Free Week is May 5 – 11, 2014! 

Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to spend 7 days unplugged.

BOSTON -- April 28 -- Children are spending way too much time with screens -- and it’s not good for them.

  • School-age children spend more time with screen media -- television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices -- than in any other activity but sleeping.
  • Screen media use is at an all-time high among preschoolers -- according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 32 hours a week watching just television.
  • A recent survey found that the amount of time children ages 0-8 spend using mobile devices tripled in two years.
  • Screen time is habit forming and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, and attention problems.
  • 64% of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV and videos for an average of just over two hours a day -- even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends discouraging screen time for children under two.

For these reasons and more, so many leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (May 5 – 11, 2014), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn on life by turning off screens for entertainment. Endorsers include the National Head Start Association, the National WIC Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Association of Children’s Museums, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the American Public Health Association.

“Such wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing national consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, apps, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the official home of Screen-Free Week. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, exploring nature, and dreaming -- activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood."

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities. Here are just a few of the upcoming festivities:

  • The Irving (TX) Public Library is hosting events all week long including sidewalk chalk art, a bubble bonanza, a science experiment, and opportunities to create books and build with construction materials.
  • In NYC, The Uni Project will take up residency all week on a wide stretch of sidewalk in the Lower East Side with their pop-up, open-air reading rooms.
  • The Wooden Horse toy store in Los Gatos, CA has a week of activities planned, starting with a pajama party and story time and ending with a play day that will be filled with arts & crafts, games, and races. A game night and nature-themed activities will also be offered during the week.
  • Spring Garden Recreation in York, PA will be joining with local businesses and Recreation departments to offer an activity for each day of the week free of charge. They’re starting the week off with a kids’ biathlon.
  • In Cambridge, MA families will celebrate Screen-Free (Screen-Wise) Week with cooking from the garden, building and playing with cardboard tubes, a kids’ walk and picnic at Fresh Pond, exploring materials with magical properties, and sketching plants and trees. They’ll end the week with a Mother’s Day bike ride.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (www.commercialfreechildhood.org) is a national coalition that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).

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See also my post about my family's experience with Screen Free Week last year. I'm going to try for "Less Screen Week" this year (see a post by Marge Loch-Wouters on this topic), but I think that's all I'll be able to manage right now. 

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41. How I Met Your Ending

One of the reasons that I'm not so down on spoilers is that, for someone who consumes pop culture the way I do, they're essentially impossible to avoid.  Online fandom talks a big game about its spoiler-phobia, but if you've ever spent a day on twitter in the wake of a major pop culture event, you know that there's no way not to pick up exactly what happened, even if people haven't said it

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42. 7 Things You Don't Know About Me

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this month's blog series at readergirlz! I had a lot of fun gathering candid and heartfelt responses from authors. Lorie Ann asked me to post my own list, so here goes nothing:

7 Things You Don't Know About Me

1) I've been writing stories and songs since birth, practically.

2) I am capable of charming squirrels out of trees.

3) There is no television show I have loved more completely from start to finish than Leverage.

4) I love word play.

5) Synchronicity and causality are recurring themes in my life.

6) Chances are, I'm shorter than you.

7) I project. In more ways than one.

So there you have it! I hope March has been lovely for all of you. Don't forget to mark your calendars for Operation Teen Book Drop 2014, which will be happening in just a few weeks on April 17th. Stay tuned to the readergirlz blog, Facebook, and Twitter to learn how you can participate and #rockthedrop!


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43. The Big Bang Query

In March 2013, during the Q&A after an educators conference in Georgia, a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory suggested I send a copy of each book to the show. 


Though I don’t watch it (heresy!), I know it regularly references superheroes. I didnt see what the producers might do with my books...yet this audience member kept kindly suggesting (almost insisting), and eventually I was convinced.

What did I want from this? Well, this woman seemed to think the true stories in these books could inspire a storyline on the show. I felt that is probably unlikely, but I am a never-hurts-to-try guy. In any case, I
d be thrilled if either or both could be added to the set, even if for just a scene. I believe they are the kinds of books the characters would own...


On Facebook, I asked if anyone in my network has a connection to anyone connected to the show, and within minutes, I heard from a friend who is friends with Kaley Cuoco’s makeup artist. She happened to be supremely nice, and offered to pass along my books, so I sent them to her. Every time I followed up, she was equally nice and complimentary.

As of now, nothing has come of it. But you can’t predict a big bang…

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44. New BBC Sherlock Fan Fiction: “This is Not a Safe House, Part III”

The producers of BBC’s Sherlock did something really mean this week. They released a shot from a cut scene in the final episode of season three, “His Last Vow,” in which Irene Adler leaves Sherlock a single red rose in the hospital.

I’ve been writing a series about these two for over a year now, because I love them together. After the completion of “This is Not a Safe House, Part II,” I received several emails requesting a part III. But I had nothing else to say … until the aforementioned photo was released. Now, I have plenty to say.

Just for you, the beginning of “This is Not a Safe House, Part III.” For the story in its entirety, follow the link provided at the end. It’s Christmas!

This is Not a Safe House, Part III
by Sara Dobie Bauer

Sherlock Holmes in a hospital bed looked unreal, so in the darkness of night, she reached out her fingers and touched the skin around his white bandage. He was real. And warm. He was alive, breathing, asleep, and probably high on morphine. Comforted by the quiet sound of beeping machines that monitored his heart rate, Irene Adler was finally able to set the small vase and red rose on the table at the foot of his bed.

e927b4a9edd265687de481d554971a22-2Should she wake him? If she did, she knew she would have to answer for herself—her absence. Perhaps if she woke him, he would think it but a dream and forget her by morning. But no, the rose would give her away. He would know it was from her, so maybe she should leave, just turn around and go, before those piercing blue eyes could stab her in the heart.

One more touch; she’d never been good at denying herself anything. She hoped the drugs were strong in his system as she leaned over and kissed his forehead.

His voice rumbled beneath her: “I was wondering if you were going to cut and run.”

She lingered with her mouth against his skin and then pulled back slowly. “So was I.” Irene looked down at the man she loved and hadn’t seen in over two years. He had aged some, filled out. Not so skinny anymore, and his features, more rugged. She knew she had changed, too.

“You didn’t answer me.” He sounded furious.

She stepped to the bottom of his hospital bed and smiled. “Did you ask a question?”

“When I came back to London, I sent for you. You didn’t answer.”

“No.”

He tried to sit up, but his face melted into pained wrinkles.

She ran to him, her weakness showing. She put her hands on his chest and pushed him back against the bed. “Don’t,” she said.

She watched him take a few deep breaths, his eyes closed.

“You look different,” she whispered.

“I look different? You were blond last I saw you.”

She nodded, remembering their time in California. He’d talked as if they had a future then. He’d talked about her coming to hide at Baker Street when he came back to life in London—talked as if they might end up happy. Together.

He looked up at her, and she withered under his gaze. “Why didn’t you come back?”

“Who shot you?”

He chuckled, bit at his bottom lip. “Planning a vendetta?”

“Mr. Holmes—”

“Don’t call me that.”

Irene tried to hide behind her long hair, loose around her shoulders. Quietly, she asked again, “Who shot you?”

(Read the full story HERE.)


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45. Painted with woad, and howling

Searches for this phrase (minus the comma) keep popping up in my stats. It’s a Downton Abbey quote, Violet mocking Isobel: “I wonder you don’t just set fire to the Abbey and dance ’round it, painted with woad and howling.” She didn’t pause for a comma, which has some folks confused. ‘Howling’ here is a verb.

Here is a person who is painted with woad, and is also howling.

woadandhowling Maaaaaaaaatthew!

Woad is a blue dye extracted from a the plant Isatis tinctoria or “dyer’s woad.” Its flowers are yellow but you can get blue from its leaves. I learned a lot about it while researching my Martha books—woad would have been one of Auld Mary’s staples. Indeed, it was a staple in European textiles through the Middle Ages, until it was gradually replaced in commercial use by indigo.

Image from Wikimedia Image source: Wikimedia

You chop the leaves into a paste, let them dry, crumble them into powder, then sprinkle them with water and allow them to ferment, a process known as “couching.” Then you add a mordant, something to help fix the color into the cloth. In days of yore this was most commonly stale urine. (The ammonia in the urine serves as the fixative, as you probably learned from The Mammoth Hunters.) Fun fact: according to this dyeing site, the urine of male beer drinkers was most effective. The collection and sale of urine from certain cities was big business, at one time.

Urine from London was shipped up the coast to Yorkshire, where there was a big dyeing industry, and this is the origin of the phrase “taking the piss.”

Captains were unwilling to admit that they were carrying a cargo of urine and would say that the barrels contained wine.

“No – you’re taking the piss” was the usual rejoinder.

Who knew?

In ancient Scotland, so the story goes, the Picts liked to paint or tattoo themselves with woad, especially before going into battle. In fact, that’s how they came to be called Picts by the Romans, from the Latin word “pictus” or painted. Julius Caesar wrote in his The Conquest of Gaul, “All the British color themselves with glass, which produces a blue color.” Over time his word “vitro” (glass) came to be associated with woad, and the image of blue-painted Scottish warriors stuck. Some modern scholars dispute the association, saying Caesar meant something else entirely; it is widely accepted that the early Britons did engage in body art but the contemporary thinking, as far as I can tell, seems to be that the paint was probably not made from woad. However, other experts will point out that woad has antiseptic properties, which could well explain its use in painting the skin before or after armed conflicts. And so woad lives on in battles (of the scholarly sort) to this day.

Whatever the truth may be, the blue body paint is exactly what the Dowager Countess had in mind when she tossed her barb at Isobel. If I had any kind of Photoshop skills you would be looking at Maggie Smith’s face painted with woad (and howling) right now.

Here’s my recap of the Downton episode in question: Season 4, Episode 5 (UK/DVD 6)

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46. 99 Inspirations for The Riverman

99Luftballoons

Over two years ago, before The Only Ones came out, I did a countdown of 99 things (books, movies, art, places, etc.) that inspired it. It was a fun way to revisit some stuff I was actively thinking about when I wrote the book, as well as some stuff I didn’t realize influenced me until I had some time to reflect.

Well, it’s 99 days until The Riverman hits shelves and I figured, why not do it all again? So, without further ado, here is my list of #99inspirations that I’ll be counting down daily on Twitter. This doesn’t represent all of my favorite things (sorry, no bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens here), though it does include some stuff that I truly love. And hopefully it sparks some conversation about the stuff you love and the stuff that leaks into your creations.

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47. Big Agents of SHIELD comeback had lowest ratings yet

Marvels-Agents-of-S.H.I.E.L.D.-March-4-350x229.jpg
I know everyone is tired of the dumping on Agents of SHIELD but Tuesday’s big episode had the lowest ratings yet for the show. Whoops. The 1.7 rating was down 23 percent from 2.2 for the previous episode. You got some heavy lifting to do, Sif.

It’s worth remembering that as rousingly entertaining as they may be, none of the Marvel movies are cinematic masterpieces. In fact they are cut from a very standard cloth. I watched this episode and it was okay, but in a world of True Detective and Breaking Bad, it looks painfully pedestrian. But as my friends with kids tell me, the younglings like it, so let’s just leave it for the intended audience.

Now can we all start being anxious about the upcoming Netflix Defenders?

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48. And here’s a quick first look at The Flash costume

THE FLASH Full Suit Image.jpg

A Flash pilot is on the way starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen—and here’s the first look at his costume. It was designed by Academy Ward winner Colleen Atwood, who also works on ARROW. (Her Oscars include Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.)

This image says scarlet, it says foreshortening…does it say Speedster? What say you, peanut gallery?

THE FLASH pilot is executive produced by the ARROW team of Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and David Nutter. Nutter is directing from a script by Berlanti & Kreisberg and Geoff Johns.
 
 

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49. How to prepare yourself for Game of Thrones Season Four


Game of Thrones Season Four had its premiere at Lincoln Center last night and they built a big old dragon for the occasion, as seen on Instagram.

The new season debuts on April 6th, and doubtless we will have daily countdown clocks blazing across Tumblr. If you, like The Beat, have waited until the last minute to cram on remembering what happened last season, here’s a short new trailer that was just released:

And for post grads, here are two longer catch up pieces. From what we know, in the new season, the cast reacts to the horrific events of the Red Wedding, Joffrey gets married again, Cersei and Jamie are reunited, Tyrion has to deal with humiliation, Daenerys frolics with her dragons and Jon Snow learns a thing or two. Oh and because so many characters got killed off last year, there are NEW characters to kill off or disfigure! Woot, can’t wait.

201403190233.jpg

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50. Comic Book Men non-spin-off coming starring Robert Bruce and more Kevin Smith-verse stuff

robert bruce.jpeg

Here’s a run down of what Kevin Smith is up to, including news that Comic Book Men will be renewed for a fourth (!) season. Smith is also developing a late night talk show based on his Hollywood Babble On podcast with Ralph Garman. And Finally, there will be a Comic Book Men SPIN-OFF somehow related show starring Asbury Park co-runner Robert Bruce, a regular guest star on CBM:

Frequent castmember Robert Bruce will be the focus of the companion series, which is not being billed as a “spinoff.” Produced by Original Media, with Charlie Corwin and Smith executive producing, the series would take Bruce outside of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (as highlighted on Comic Book Men), on a cross-country search for collectibles and fanboy items at estate sales, auctions and flea markets.


Nerd Dream Roadshow then?

Bruce is interviewed about his new venture at 13th Dimension where he’s also a contributor.

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