Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

10 November, 2009 at 12:35 pm (Nostalgia, TV to Watch)

As everyone has heard by now, Sesame Street turns forty today. Whoa. Forty!

Well some of you reading this (namely, those who didn’t know me 27 years ago) may not know this, but I love Sesame Street. As do most Americans, I know. But I have a serious warm spot in my heart for this show. My mother maintains that the show is the reason I was such a young reader; I contend that Sesame Street (plus Richard Scarry’s books) are the reason I always wanted to live in a big city. But I do know that I have a lot of really great childhood memories of Sesame Street – frankly, of a lot of PBS’s childhood programming. Square One! Reading Rainbow! But today is all about the Sesame Street.

So, in honor of Sesame Street’s 40th, I decided I’d post some videos of clips I loved when I watched, nearly thirty (gulp!) years ago (all taken from Sesame Street’s YouTube Page)

How crayons are made (note: I highly doubt they’re still made this way)

A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter

Heeeeere, fishy fishy fishy!

Batty batty bat – I’m not saying that Becky and I stood on our heads and sang along to this song. I’m not saying that at all.

Okay, okay, I could go on, but I’ll stop now. But cheers to Sesame Street – here’s hoping it sees another 40 years! (though by then, I hope Susan, Bob, and the rest are no longer on the Street…)

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Mad Men

9 November, 2009 at 11:08 pm (TV to Watch)

So there’s this show on the television called Mad Men. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Well, I’m very very very late catching on to this show…but I finally started season one, and I’m digging it so far. Only three episodes in, but I’ve already learned so much!

1. Don Draper is a dick, and I don’t know why all the girls and boys love him so much.

2. If you don’t have a drink in hand, you’re doing something wrong

3. Not only is smoking socially permissible, it’s good-hostessing to have a tray of cigarettes for your guests next to the ash tray

4. In the same vein, drinking and smoking while pregnant are a-okay

5. Women really did used to be treated like dirt (if this show is accurate to 1960’s life – Gran? – then I truly am one of those young women today who has taken “women’s lib” for granted)

So I don’t know how historically accurate all this is…but it seems pretty spot-on. And the attention to detail in production? Impeccable. The show is an amazing snapshot of what life was like back then – and so much of it is just so WRONG…the misogyny, racism, anti-semitism, etc. etc. Except that drinking at work thing – gotta love that. Needless to say (pretty sure every television on the planet has already said so): it’s a really good show. Surprise, surprise. Now I just need Netflix to deliver disc 2.

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The 2009 Oscars*

23 February, 2009 at 1:05 am (Miscellaneous, Movie to Watch, TV to Watch)

This year’s Oscar telecast was great! The changes they made [almost] totally worked – the acting award presentations were all so much more personal, and the show was altogether more entertaining than usual. It seemed the Academy Awards wasn’t taking itself so seriously this year, which was fantastic. Hugh Jackman’s opening number was fabulous (though that music medley in the middle was pretty rough – too many songs not mixed together well). I liked that they had the same presenters give several awards, instead of switching presenters nearly every time. Though I wish they would have given each of the nominees for best song more time to perform!

But best of all? Sean Penn’s Best Actor win for “Milk”! A surprise, but a fantastic one. I was at a friend’s place watching the show, and this was the only time during the night where we all yelled out with happiness. We actually all stood up and were high-fiving each other. (full disclosure: most of the people watching were gay 😉 )

So, though I watch every year, and will undoubtedly continue to do so, this was the first time in a long time that I’ve really, truly had fun watching The Oscars – I hope they keep it up in 2010!

*technically, I think this may have been the 2008 Oscars, since it covered films released in 2008. Oh, well…

Update: Sean Penn’s terrific acceptance speech.

“For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone”

And here’s the very moving speech from Dustin Lance Black, who won for his screenplay for “Milk”.

“…if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you God does love you and that very soon I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.” (If you didn’t tear up during that speech, you’re heartless)

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No one else will likely care about this…

17 February, 2009 at 6:20 pm (SuperGay, TV to Watch)

But “Torchwood”, is coming back, finally, and this is the trailer for the new special.

[Full Disclosure: I love cheesy BBC SciFi shows (read: Doctor Who and Torchwood ), and Torchwood is the gayer of the two]

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So I finally had the moment

22 January, 2009 at 4:15 pm (Barack Obama, Historical Figure, Music, TV to Watch)

I didn’t watch the televised Neighborhood Ball on Tuesday, and I finally just watched it – and yes, I cried during the first dance. The Obamas are such a wonderful couple! And Beyonce’s rendition of “At Last” was so beautiful! Yeah, yeah, I know. Anyway, for the two or three people that haven’t seen this yet…

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We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration

18 January, 2009 at 5:27 pm (Barack Obama, Concert, Historical Figure, Music, Politics, TV to Watch)

obama
Update: HBO has made this available online; watch it here
Highlights:

– Malia taking her own pics with a digital camera from the presidential viewing booth
– Obama’s niece being passed out in the presidential viewing booth and sleeping through the whole show
– Mary J. Blige getting choked up after she was finished singing “Lean On Me”
– Jamie Foxx doing a pretty spot-on Barack Obama impersonation – and Barack cracking up at it
– Tom Hanks reading passages from the speeches of Lincoln. Though could anyone watch this part and not think of the part of “Forrest Gump” where Forrest speaks in front of the Vietnam war protesters at the Lincoln Memorial?
– The (seeming) contradiction of following up the quote from Reagan’s inaugural address with James Taylor’s “Shower the People You Love”. This isn’t the first song that comes to mind when I think of the Reagan years…
– Joe Biden apparently forgetting that they had a mic for him to use, and him figuring he had to shout for those at the end of the Mall to hear him. No so, Mr. Vice President-elect. The delivery was just awkward…I couldn’t even concentrate on what he was saying. On the flip side, he was less long-winded than usual!
– John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses” actually being used appropriately. (see, THIS is what I think of when I think of Reagan’s administration!)
– A gay men’s chorus (?) backing Josh Groban and Heather Headley on “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. (I need to check into this – but it was a choir of mostly white, middle aged men wearing red AIDS awareness ribbons. So I’m not really going out on a limb here.)
– Jack Black introducing Garth Brooks. Random!
– Garth Brooks singing “American Pie”. Awesome!
– Garth Brooks getting the thousands and thousands of people at the monument watching to join in singing and dancing to “Shout”
– Garth Brooks singing “We Shall Be Free”. (Though it was a shortened version, so the verse with the line about being able to love anyone you choose was cut. Darn.)
– Seriously, Garth Brooks was great. The man knows how to work a crowd. Why won’t he come out of retirement?
– The Obamas up and dancing to Stevie Wonder, Usher, and Shakira’s number
– U2 singing “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. That song just meant more on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the eve of MLKJ Day.
– U2 singing “City of Blinding Lights” – this was one of Obama’s campaign songs, so cool seeing them do it live for him right before he actually becomes president.
– Bono does love to work a crowd. And people may get sick of him being political – but the man seems to really believe everything he says. You have to give him credit for that.
– The bald eagle being presented was kind of odd, though it did make me appreciate that we didn’t end up with the turkey as the national bird
– Obama’s speech. It was great, and it wasn’t even the “big” one.
– A big group, including Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen, singing “This Land is Your Land”. The whole thing. Oklahoma represent, ya’ll.
– The big finale, Beyonce leading everyone in singing “America the Beautiful”. I don’t know how you could hear that and not get chills.

Overall, it was a great show. It set the perfect tone for this new presidency…in fact, it almost seemed like the “people’s inauguration”. The real inauguration is important, and steeped in history – but this felt more modern, and more real. I’m curious to see how it measures up to today, and of course am anticipating Obama’s inauguration speech. I can’t wait!

Update:Here’s is Obama’s speech today:

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Obama Inaugural Celebration Concert

17 January, 2009 at 9:47 pm (2008 Election, Barack Obama, Concert, Historical Figure, TV to Watch)

I was bummed I was going to miss this, since it’s on HBO…and then I found out (via a text “from” Obama) that the show will be free! That’s right, HBO is making itself free while this concert is on. So watch it, at 2:30 or 7:00 ET on Sunday, January 18th!
82671

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Spectacle with Elvis Costello

17 January, 2009 at 7:54 pm (Miscellaneous, TV to Watch)

As most of you who actually take the time to read this blog may recall, I went to a filming of the show “Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…” last fall. The episode I went to had Rufus Wainwright and Renee Fleming as the guests. Well, that episode was finally televised this week. A couple of things of note:

1. Rufus’s interview seemed a lot more coherent through the magic of television editing.
2. I have been half-watching (it’s been on, but I’m washing dishes and things while watching), and so thus far have only seen myself on the program once, for about 1/2 second, laughing. That’s right, I’m practically a celebrity. Truly, it’s more screen time than I got from any of those Comedy Central shows I’ve seen filmed!
3. Renee Fleming was completely cut from this episode. I just checked, and they made her have her own episode (it’ll be broadcast on January 28th). They didn’t do such a great job of editing that, though: at the beginning, Elvis introduces Rufus as “his first guest tonight”. Whoops.

So, whenever there is video available on YouTube of this particular episode, I’ll post it. (if you’re curious, the Rufus episode broadcasts again on 1/18 at 2:00am. I’m sure you’ll stay up to watch it). And don’t forget to check out the show yourself, Wednesdays at 9:00 ET on Sundance. If you actually get that channel.

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