Thursday, February 6, 2014

I hope I’ve still got the hang of this blogging thing…

Well, since I’ve been officially in slack mode for the past month I figured it might be a good time to throw something up on the blog in the form of an explanation for that slackitude.  There have been a number of important goings-on here at Rancho Yesteryear that have had a profound effect on my blogging output, and while I haven’t been able to completely iron out the kinks I’m hoping that some of the measures I’ve taken to mow the grass that’s grown will ensure a bit more activity and the return of some of our beloved (and not-so-beloved) features.

A few weeks back, my office chair decided to put in its retirement papers…and since I’m still interviewing candidates for a replacement I haven’t been able to sit down in front of the computer for prolonged periods of time.  Right now, I have two temp chairs filling in—one of which leaves my ass numb after ten minutes…the other fifteen.  I’ve got a third chair that does rather well when I have to sit and watch movies…but it comes up woefully short whenever typing and other computer-related duties need attending.  (Clearly the solution involves funding for a new chair…but that’s a bit down the road a ways.)

America’s favorite (and still wacky) elderly couple—or “Los Parentes Yesteryear,” as Brandie of True Classics calls them—have both been experiencing some mild health concerns of late; it’s nothing too serious, just the usual complaints when you’re past the “spring chicken” stage…but nevertheless, it’s a situation that I’ve had to monitor closely.  As such, I felt it was better for all involved if I relinquished my position as associate editor at ClassicFlix in order to free up time for this, and so I tendered my resignation at the end of January.  I’ve not completely severed ties with CF; I will still contribute the occasional movie review and write their “Where’s That Been? (It Must Have Fallen Behind the File Cabinet)” column on a monthly basis—you can access those reviews by clicking on the ClassicFlix logo in the sidebar on the right, and I hope to also include links to these reviews in the “Movies” section of that sidebar before too long.

I included the above picture to show you that the ‘rents are still in the pink as they pose for a birthday snap (Dad's 82nd) with their favorite grandson.

I guess the big news around the House of Yesteryear is that in mid-January, the Entertainment Committee got together and voted to rid ourselves of CharredHer Cable…because my mother had grown weary of the expense (here’s where I make the old joke that the bill was large enough to be a William).  I was appointed head of a sub-committee to look into cheaper options (my fault, really—this is what happens when you leave the room to get a refill on iced tea) and our first choice was DirecTV…but when the competent DirecTV technician came out to install the dish, he informed us that it would not be feasible due to the large amount of “forest” surrounding the house.  (We do not live in B.F.E., by the way—it's just our neighborhood is rather heavily shaded, treewise.)

Being denied DirecTV wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because on the day the tech was coming out to install (or in our case, not install) the system, the word came down that DirecTV was no longer carrying The Weather Channel…a development that displeased my mother, because watching The Weather Channel is just something old people do.  The dispute, from what I have gleaned reading accounts on the Internets, is not unlike the recent kerfuffle between Charter and Atlanta’s WSB-TV; The Weather Channel is demanding a payment increase from DirecTV, and DirecTV has responded with sand and some pounding instructions.

That’s all well and good…but this doesn’t explain the brouhaha that’s going on between DirecTV and INSP: DirecTV has removed that station from its lineup despite the fact that INSP doesn’t charge them anything to carry the family-friendly programming cable channel.  (The fact that INSP has both The Virginian and The High Chaparral would seem to me having it available to your subscribers a must.)  If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, and you’d like to make your opinion known on this issue, the details are below (click to embiggen):

Well, since DirecTV was out…we had to go with Plan B, and on January 17 we welcomed AT&T U-Verse into our home.  I’ve heard mixed reactions to U-Verse (though admittedly more than a few of them are on those Comcast Xfinity commercials…and we don’t get Xfinity in our area) but we’ve not had any problems with it so far.  We sprung for the HD option, and to say that both parents have fallen in love with it would be a mild understatement; Mom has been raving about it ever since it was installed.  There are two big pluses with the U-Verse: 1) we’ve got a DVR now, which allows me to record movies that I’d like to watch without having to stay up later than normal or set my alarm for same, and 2) both televisions—the one in the living room and my room—get the same programming…which means The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ is now available for viewing in me boudoir.  (Oh, and we get both The Weather Channel and INSP…so suck it, DirecTV.)

There were a few sacrifices made: the U-Verse system doesn’t carry our Me-TV affiliate (I’ve had a couple of people tell me on Facebook and Twitter that it’s available on their systems but it’s not made it here yet), and I also lost Antenna TV and Movies!  But on the other hand, I watched those stations only because I couldn’t get Tee Cee Em in the back bedroom.  We’re also getting the Encore channels—which means my Gunsmoke habit has started up again via Encore Westerns, and we also have access to FX Movies, IFC and Sundance.  (Most of these, sadly, are now riddled with commercials, for which I can only say: boooooo.)

Several of my friends have successfully cut the cable umbilical cord, and I say more power to them; I would love to do likewise but the ‘rents have got a sports jones that constantly needs scratched and not having cable simply wouldn’t be an option for them.  (As for Father—well, he’s bummed because The Pentagon Military Channel isn’t available in HD.)  What we’ll probably do is keep U-Verse for a year…and then if we can’t make a deal with Monty Hall when the year is up we’ll go back to Charter…and then play one off the other the way people used to do by moving from apartment to apartment when the rent was due.  (Don’t try this at home, kids.)

So, I’m hoping to get some reviews of the movies I’ve been DVRing like a madman up soon, and also pick up where we left off on Serial Saturdays and Doris Day(s) in the bargain.  Working on some outside projects kept me from cobbling together a Coming Distractions in January…but it’s the usual 31 Days of Oscar programming on TCM, so you’ve not missed much.  I do want to mention that the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon is currently underway in the same time period (February 1-March 3), hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club—I haven’t officially RSVP’d, but if all goes right I may put forth a post for that.

I have, however, committed to the Sleuthathon—a ‘thon that will doff our respective deerstalkers to the movie and TV detectives of yesteryear, and will be hosted by our good friend Fritzi at Movies Silently.  When I approached her about this on Twitter, I originally suggested doing a piece on my favorite small screen crime drama of all time, Naked City…and then a closer examination of the rules and regs revealed to me that the focus is just on detectives—cops is verboten.  So I had to change to an examination of the cult detective series Johnny Staccato, starring future auteur John Cassavetes.  The Sleuthathon gets underway on March 16th (it’s a two-day affair), so skate on over if you’re interested in participating.

Three other blogathons that I have not officially inked a deal with (okay, more like two) but will probably throw in once I see how my schedule looks include the Big Stars on the Small Screen Blogathon, which will be hosted at How Sweet It Was on March 20 and 21.  (Previously unknown trivia fact: the proprietress of How Sweet it Was and Once Upon a Screen are one and the same!  Think about it—have you ever seen a picture of them together?  I thought not…)

The Diamonds and Gold Blogathon, hosted by the gal reverently referred to here at Rancho Yesteryear as Our Lady of Great Caftan and the indestructible Rich from Wide Screen World, is scheduled to take place from April 12-13.  Caftan Woman’s subject is compelling in its simplicity: select an actor or actress who continued to work in films well into their twilight years…and ignore the fact that a good many of them probably had to, because 1) actors have to act and 2) some of them also have to eat.  I’ve told Her Caftaness that TDOY will review one of my very favorite silver screen Westerns, The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), which features a man who continued to want to perform even after they nailed his coffin shut: Harry Davenport.  (Okay, I may have made this last part up.)

Last—but only because I grouped these by date—and certainly not least is The Romantic Comedy Blogathon, hosted from May 1-4 by Carole & Co. and Backlots, a formidable pair of bloggers that nobody can deny (whoopee!).  The title is self-explanatory; it’s a tribute to the great romantic/screwball comedies of the movies, and I do plan to participate…I just need to nail down a topic.  It’s one that’s right up the ol’ Thrilling Days of Yesteryear alley.

So if you’ve been sitting around and staring at a blank blog, wondering what cinematic subjects you could possibly explore, you have no excuse for not participating in any of these fine events.  (Well, unless you’re trapped in a cave right now.  Or dead.  But we’ll need a note from your mother.)  Okay, my ass is now telling me that my fifteen minutes is up, so I’ll leave things where they’re at and get back to the blog soon.


Rich said...

Yes, wiseguy, it's true that actors don't have an expiration date, but since Hollywood is all about the youth market these days, I thought it'd be nice to celebrate the longevity of the great actors in a blogathon.

Thanks for joining us. Eagerly looking forward to your post.

VP81955 said...

Glad to have you taking part in "The Romantic Comedy Blogathon," and I cordially invite others to participate -- and you're not restricted to classic-era romcoms, so anyone who wants to do an entry (perhaps compare those of Kate Hudson to her mom, Goldie Hawn), be my guest.

Oh, and that banner is Roland Young as Cosmo Topper and Constance Bennett as sexy ghost Marion Kerby (she's resting her ectoplasm before she has to disappear) from the overlooked "Topper Takes A Trip" (1939).

JavaBeanRush said...

1. Don't think me callous (Ok, you can, because I am), but every time you describe your cable problems I feel like a Joe who looks at the pile of goo that used to be his buddy and says "Whew! I'm glad it's not me."

I have nothing against TV (except for the commercials because I'm a control freak); I just can't get into it anymore.

Don't get creeped out, but you are my TV, Ivan. You are my TV. (Now you can get creeped out.)

The last time I really got into TV shows was when most of those programs on that DirecTV lineup above were new.

I remember Jane Seymour in costume as Dr. Quinn explaining what TV ratings were. However, she had dropped the American accent she uses on the show and used her real voice. It was the weirdest thing to hear her say "use them wisely" by pronouncing the "s" as an "s" instead of the zed sound Americans make.

2. Speaking of people you don't see in the same room together, you ever notice that since Michael Jackson allegedly died, he's still making records and movies and Sandra Bullock won an Oscar?


Caftan Woman said...

I've just been going through the cable company blues. They all want my money and they make big promises, but when you get to the nitty gritty there's always some problem or other. If I weren't so lazy I'd become an anti-corporation activist. But there's probably something good to watch on TV.

Hooray for blogathons. They keep us on our toes.

grouchomarxist said...

What with an aged p. who's ten years older than your dad, and being the son who doesn't live several hundred miles distant from her, I can sympathize with your position, time-wise.

That was dead-on about The Weather Channel, too: it's pretty much the default setting on my mom's tv.

After TCM, the only other channel I really miss after dropping the cable and going streaming is Encore Westerns. Although with the latter, it's been a love/hate relationship. I appreciated the chance they gave me to see those classic B & W Western series like Maverick and Have Gun Will Travel and of course Gunsmoke. Yet at the same time I was constantly getting annoyed at them for almost always showing grainy pan-and-scan versions of widescreen movies. Heck, the scenery is at least half the reason I enjoy the genre, plus they were butchering the work of some very fine cinematographers.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Java confessed:

Don't get creeped out, but you are my TV, Ivan. You are my TV.

I'm not creeped out by this...I just wish I watched better TV, now that I know.

And also observed:

Speaking of people you don't see in the same room together, you ever notice that since Michael Jackson allegedly died, he's still making records and movies and Sandra Bullock won an Oscar?

Best laugh I've had all week.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

If I weren't so lazy I'd become an anti-corporation activist. But there's probably something good to watch on TV.

This is why we are sisters under the mink, your Caftaness...

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Groucho sent me:

Yet at the same time I was constantly getting annoyed at them for almost always showing grainy pan-and-scan versions of widescreen movies. Heck, the scenery is at least half the reason I enjoy the genre, plus they were butchering the work of some very fine cinematographers.

I have the same frustration with the channel. Every now and then, however, Encore Westerns surprises me: they showed a letterboxed version of Ride in the Whirlwind last month, a film I had not previously seen (and enjoyed tremendously).

Todd Mason said...

And, fwiw, the Military Channel and the Pentagon Channel are two separate things. Though there sure are a Whole Lot of channels willing to tow a line for anything the Pentagon might want, and more...(except maybe those elements in the P-gon who might actually want a peacetime military).

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Todd pointed out:

And, fwiw, the Military Channel and the Pentagon Channel are two separate things.

"I did not know that!" as the late Mr. Carson might say. Well, I guess I can retire that joke (you learn something new every day...).