Mar 17 2017

Beverly D’Angelo on Mutt & Stuff

The always fabulous Beverly D’Angelo will appear on Sid & Marty Krofft‘s Mutt & Stuff, Friday March 17 at 9:30am on Nickelodeon. Sid & Marty Krofft are, of course, the geniuses behind your childhood faves H.R. Pufnstuf, Land Of The Lost, and The Bugaloos. They’ve been working their way into the imaginations of a new generation with Mutt & Stuff. Today Beverly D’Angelo joins the party by playing a mermaid.

Beverly D'Angelo on Mutt & Stuff

Here’s the episode description:

Mutt & Stuff “Doggy Mermaid Island”

Tune-in Information
Friday, 9:30 am est/pst on Nickelodeon

“Doggy Mermaid Island” episode synopsis
Beverly D’Angelo make a surprise appearance as a mermaid in the premiere week finale episode for Sid & Marty Krofft’s hit preschool series, Mutt & Stuff. In the episide D’Angelo plays Coral, a mermaid who is trying to bring Pearl – a half dog, half fish who is very shy – out of his shell. The class comes to Doggy Mermaid Island to help Pearl overcome her first?day?of?school jitters.

C’mon. “Doggy Mermaid Island”? Beverly D’Angelo as a mermaid? The Krofft brothers have still got it. Check out Mutt & Stuff on Nickelodeon.


Aug 19 2016

Stranger Things Is All The Things

The Netflix series Stranger Things is all the things. I’m serious. I’ve never been affected by a television show like this before.

I’m going to attempt to explain. Please don’t get the men in white coats. I will also attempt not to spoil anything because you should watch Stranger Things and be amazed by it. There is a chance that I will mention something that happens on the show but I’m going to try not to.

DaddyTips, 'Strange'ified

 

(Make your own ‘Strange’ified text at MakeItStranger.com. But wait until you’ve watched the show.)

Everything about Stranger Things, including the pitch-perfect and totally brilliant fonts, is pure nostalgia. You can read about those aspects of the series everywhere. (Links are included below.)

What I haven’t read yet is what I think, which is the following:

Stranger Things is a dream I had but didn’t have, memories of a life I never lived but also did.

That’s harder to explain. I’ll give it a shot.

I grew up in the city. Lived in an apartment. Never learned to ride a bike. The kids in Stranger Things live in the suburbs, in houses, and ride their bikes everywhere.

Somehow, as I watched the series, especially the middle episodes (there are only eight in total, which is perfect both for your time and for the story being told), I found myself viewing the screen through a haze that I can only describe as memory, or a dream, or some combination of the two. The rest of my living room faded out and all I could see was my television. I mean this almost literally. It was an experience that I wish everyone could have because it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, at least when it comes to a TV show.

I suppose one could say that what I’m describing is what happens when you see a great movie, or at least what used to happen when you were younger and less jaded about entertainment. Maybe you are still less jaded, and if so, I envy you. In a world with so many entertainment options, it is difficult not to evaluate work differently than I once did. The sheer joy of seeing Star Wars for the first time is something that no one will ever experience again, if for no other reason than because no movie will ever come out of nowhere the way Star Wars did in 1977. That doesn’t mean the new stuff isn’t good. It is. (We all know how I feel about the first Avengers movie.) It’s simply different.

Stranger Things is different as well. Yes, the show taps into old movies, referencing specific ones. That’s not why I loved it. (If you’re interested in knowing what those references are, that information is very easy to come by.) What the show did for me was the following: it managed to be both entertaining and, in some very strange way, present a life experience that I never actually had. It’s the deepest form of nostalgia.

I want to repeat that one more time because it sounds so unbelievably odd: Stranger Things felt like something that happened to me, even though it obviously didn’t. (Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but trust me, Stranger Things didn’t happen to anybody.)

A person could argue that this is simply the movie references at work. This person may be right. I don’t think they are. Somehow, the Duffer Brothers created a piece of entertainment that sprang forth from my own brain, from my my own memories of something I never actually experiencedThat is an impressive piece of work.

A few specific things I loved about the show:

  • The moment when Winona Ryder, who is so good in this she deserves every award, is going to leave her house but decides she’s going to stay instead. It sums up her character, and it’s an astonishing piece of acting.
  • The kids. Where did they get these kids, a time machine? I didn’t think they made kids like that anymore.
  • No parents. Yes, the kids have parents. But they are rarely seen. That’s extremely retro, and so important to the artistic success of the show. As a parent, I would never allow my children to be on their own the way I was, which is the way the kids on the show are. It was a different time. And I’m not a ‘helicopter parent’. Mothers and fathers simply don’t allow children to do their own thing the way parents in the 80s did. That’s not a social commentary, it’s a fact.
  • The walkie-talkies.
  • The majority of the adults, in particular the two parents (other than Winona Ryder) that we see more often than others, and also the science teacher. Well, and the police officers. OK, I like everybody on the show.
  • Yelling through rooms. “Time for dinner!” “OKAY! (gets quieter) Now listen, here’s what we need to do.” (Not a direct quote.) The jump between jarringly loud and normal speaking voices is something that I don’t think we do anymore. I know I did it. It’s a small detail, one of many, that make Stranger Things possibly even greater than the sum of its wonderful parts.
  • THE KIDS. ALL OF THEM. Everyone is talking about the main group of kids, and for good reason. They’re amazing. I want to include every kid, even the ones with small roles. And speaking of small roles…
  • The characters, and the actors who play those characters. Every detail in Stranger Things has been picked over in numerous articles online. This is because those details were carefully chosen. (Apparently there is one car that isn’t the correct year. I can’t find the story but I’m sure you can if you want to.) Every character, even the small ones, gets something to do. The main characters each have so much going on that in a lesser show it would be distracting. On Stranger Things, it isn’t. Orange is the New Black, another brilliant (for different reasons) Netflix series, manages a similar feat. But Stranger Things does it in a shorter amount of time and on a show with kooky stuff. Orange is the New Black is brilliant in part because it is based on events that actually happened, and as it continues, on events that still are happening, even if it’s not these specific events happening to these specific people. (That is, prisons are super messed up places and horrible things are happening in them.) Stranger Things somehow is about things that happened even though there is no way they could have happened. And in real life, everybody has a story. EVERYBODY ON STRANGER THINGS HAS A STORY. You don’t get to hear about all of their stories, which is also just like real life. (Again, please don’t get the men in white coats. I am aware that Stranger Things is a television show.)
  • D&D

There are so many other pleasures that came from watching this show. A friend told me when I started watching it that Stranger Things had “all the feels.” I thought I knew what he meant but I didn’t. Stranger Things brought up emotions in me that I didn’t know I could still access. I frequently had to pause an episode because I found myself getting more than a little verklempt. Three times while watching Stranger Things, I ate chocolate. Not because I was hungry, because I needed it. That has literally never happened to me before.

I hope you watch Stranger Things and that you enjoy it. I realize I’ve probably oversold it to the point where if the show doesn’t give you a foot massage while feeding you peeled grapes it won’t live up to the type. I apologize for that. Watch it anyway. It’s really good.

Other articles:

(Warning: many of these stories will reveal details of Stranger Things that it would be better for you not to know before you watch. This may not matter to you, which is fine. The warning is because I want to do my part to give you the experience that I had, which is impossible. But I want to try. I’m getting verklempt again. OK, here’s the list.)

Stranger Things Is a Nerdy Story That Is So Much More Than Its References, io9

Gizmodo’s Stranger Things coverage

I don’t totally agree with this, but I’m glad someone did it:
Stranger Things, Side-By-Side With Every Excellent Film It Borrows From (Sploid/Gizmodo)

An article from The Guardian about Winona Ryder, who is SO GOOD ON THIS SHOW

Read this Business Insider article only after you’ve watched the series; I don’t even want to include the title because it’s spoilery.

Watch this after you’ve watched the show. It’s very funny. (io9)

A review of Stranger Things and another Netflix series, The Get Down (The New Yorker)

Here are even more articles. Some of them look cool. See the disclaimer, but also this one: if don’t want to know anything about the show before you watch it, wait until after you do to read these stories. It’s OK. We’ll wait. And if you want to talk about Stranger Things, leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.


Jul 27 2016

All the M*A*S*H for 60 Bucks

Amazon Deal that ends tonight, so move fast if you want it — get all the M*A*S*H for 60 bucks.

Technically the price is $59.99. But there might be tax which would make it more. So let’s say 60 bucks, for which you receive 34 DVDs. Not bad, right?

Just to make things interesting, here’s a personal M*A*S*H story. Because we used to watch whatever was on TV, I watched a fair amount of M*A*S*H, even when I was too young to fully appreciate it. This was extremely true when I saw an episode in which Klinger has some sort of nightmare. That’s all I remember — other than the fact that I was scared out of my mind. I’m fairly certain it gave me nightmares, and TV generally doesn’t do that.

Obviously M*A*S*H is one of the all-time great television shows, true classic tv, and the movie it’s based on is worth seeing as well. So go ahead and buy this uber-collection. But do it today because Amazon says it goes bye-bye tomorrow.

Source: Amazon.com: M*A*S*H: The Complete Series + Movie


Aug 17 2015

Books – The Original iPad

I recently received an email from a PR person touting the success of electronic devices giving parents some time to themselves. This is true. But it doesn’t only apply to electronics. It also applies to books.

DaddyTips—Thoughts on Dadding

When I was a kid, there were electronics, but they required dinosaur toenail clippings to run. (Little joke there.) I spent plenty of time in front of a screen, usually a television, because that’s what we had. I also owned a lot of handheld games, like this miniature Pac-Man machine. Eventually I had a TRS-80 Color Computer which I used to play games and also write programs in BASIC.

English: Tandy/Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 1

English: Tandy/Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But before any of that, I read books. So many books. The Hobbit. Lord of the Rings. Bored of the Rings. A Wrinkle in Time. The Fletch and Flynn series by Gregory MacDonald. (I was too young for those but I read them anyway.) Agatha Christie. Sherlock Holmes. Comic books.

Reading gives parents a break as much, if not more than, electronics do. I’m not anti-screen time. I try to manage it, and I recommend that parents with very young children manage screen time closely, mostly because I don’t see any reason for a 6 month old to be playing with an iPad. But as a kid who grew up watching a lot of TV, it would be hypocritical of me to say that I’m anti-screen.

But a good book will always trump electronics. A good book — I’m talking about a really good book — is hard to put down. Sometimes it is impossible to put down. “Just one more chapter. Just one more page.” Sound familiar? Sure, the same can apply to a video game. “Just let me beat this boss.” But it’s not the same thing. A book requires imagination, and therefore uses more of the brain than anything involving a screen does. (Kindles count as books, although there is an argument to be made that plain ol’ paper books are more involving because it’s just the book, no buttons, no screen. It’s not necessarily an argument you will win, but you can make it, and I’d back you up.) (Note: the statement “uses more of the brain” sounds like I’m making a scientifically proven statement. I’m not. I think it’s likely that my statement is correct, but I don’t have the science to back it up.)

Not all kids are readers. I was, and luckily so are my kids. I like to believe that because they grew up in a house where reading was a regular activity, they naturally became readers themselves. I have no idea if this is the case, and I never will. Maybe I just got lucky. But I can confidently say that once your kids learn to read, it has the potential to be life changing… for you.

Kids who love to read get involved in their books. And when they’re reading, they don’t ask you to look up a walk-through so they can beat a section of the game they are playing. Also, reading is a quiet activity. Books don’t make noise. And readers rarely make noise when they read. (Occasional exclamations of surprise and/or joy don’t count, although they are wonderful to hear.)

Again — I am not knocking screens, literally or figuratively. Heck, unless you printed out this blog post, you’re reading it on a screen. And video games are fun. My point is simply that back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, books provided a service to parents that electronics do now. And they still can.


Aug 20 2014

The Six Dollar Man – Sesame Street Video

How I found this is too complicated/boring to explain. But finding the video of this vintage Sesame Street sketch, The Six Dollar Man, made me smile. Hope it does the same for you.

DaddyTips Featured Video

This is, of course, a parody of The Six Million Dollar Man, a show I also look back upon fondly.

h/t The Six Dollar Man – Muppet Wiki.


Jan 17 2014

Why Kids Shouldn’t Be On Reality TV

This story, if true, illustrates something I’ve said for a long time. Children shouldn’t be on reality television shows.

This Daily Mail article, taken from a report in the New York Daily News, says that Kate Gosselin told her daughters, “You embarrassed mommy,” after they didn’t “defend her” during an interview on NBC’s Today Show.

I know I’ve said it to people I know, and I think I’ve written about it and/or talked about it on podcasts. What have I said? That kids shouldn’t be on reality shows. It’s not fair to them. They aren’t able to make an informed decision about their privacy.

Now, what do I mean by “kids”? I would say “18 and under” but that’s both unrealistic and a little silly. What would be reasonable, though, is 13 years old. That’s the age used by COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

COPPA establishes rules for websites collecting information about children under the age of 13. Seems reasonable, right? Maybe we could apply the same cut-off age to whether or not a kid is allowed to be on a reality TV show.

Now, you might say, “what about child actors?” Well, there are laws about child actors — the hours they are allowed to work, what happens to the money they make so that unscrupulous parents can’t spend it all. Also, those kids are ACTING. They don’t have cameras in their homes recording their real lives.

Yes, I am aware that “reality television” isn’t reality. These shows have writers on staff, and much of what is purportedly real is staged. (I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before by hundreds of other people. If this is the first time you’ve heard it, my apologies.) Still, would you like to grow up and discover that you were a reality TV star when you were two years old?

Here’s an idea. As the Marx Brothers said, there is no sanity clause.

But maybe there should be. It doesn’t seem fair that young children should be allowed to have their lives broadcast on television, even with parental consent. Many news outlets fuzz out the faces of kids in photos. Why? Presumably because they respect the idea of a child’s right to privacy. Why not extend this same right to reality TV?

Kate Gosselin tells twins they ’embarrassed mommy’ at Today show appearance | Mail Online.


Jul 21 2012

James Holmes’ Father Goes To Colorado, and Reflections on TV News, TMZ, and Kids Doing Journalism

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

James Holmes, the man accused of shooting dozens of people at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, will get a visit from his father.

From where did I get this news? TMZ.

Yes, that TMZ. Weird Al did a song parody of Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ called ‘TMZ’ on his recent album Alpocalypse. Whenever I hear “TMZ”, I think of that song. (This is why there’s a Weird Al video at the top of this post.) I certainly don’t think “trenchant news reporting”. So I was surprised to find that this particular TMZ broadcast did a nice job of reporting on the Colorado shooting.

Here are some of my thoughts about the awful event in Colorado, how it was covered in the media, and kids practicing the ancient art of journalism from their bedrooms.  Read more »