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It’s Been A Long Time…

Posted in Chester D Cuthbert, Law & Order | UK on April 9th 2009 by Randy Reichardt

.: Indeed.  My apologies for not having posted for over two months.  A combination of things has kept me from blogging including in no particular order: more time on Facebook (enjoying that) and Twitter (not so much), trips here and there (San Diego, Boca Raton, Winnipeg), work stuff, and condo board issues up the ying yang.  The trips involved two meetings.  I attended that Standards Publishing Advisory Board meeting in San Diego in late January, and met with senior adminstrative staff at CRC Press in Boca Raton in mid-March.  Each time I left cold and snow weather for moderate-to-warm temperatures and ocean breezes in each city, and loved it, even if I was indoors most of the time.

The so-called jet-setting continues this weekend, when I fly to San Francisco for my 5th Materials Research Society meeting since April 2007.  I sit on three advisory boards or subcommittees, and will attend meetings on Tue and Wed next week there.  But I fly on Saturday, and will see an old friend when I arrive and spend some time with her and her young daughter.  I’ll also spend time with another recently-made acquaintance on Monday, before all the business stuff begins.  I return on 15 April, and then two weeks later fly to NYC for another library advisory group meeting organized by Begell House.  Two days later, on 01 May, I’ll move over to The Leo House again, and stay for until the 11th.  The only snag is that because I booked late with The Leo House, I’ll have to check in and out and in again three times in those 10 days, unless someone cancels in the next couple weeks and I can get a different room.  I’ll return to Edmonton on 11 May, then fly to Boca Raton again on 15 May for a meeting with CRC Press again, but this time it will be as a member of their Library Advisory Board.

I am a member of five library advisory boards/groups/committees at the moment: the aforementioned three organizations or publishers, as well as Knovel and SPIE.  It keeps me busy professionally and results in a few trips to far-away places from time to time.

.: In February I had the honour of travelling to Winnipeg to attend and speak at the memorial service of Chester D Cuthbert.  Chester was a kind and gentle soul, who opened his house in the mid-70s to a bunch of local geekboys eventually known as Decadent Winnipeg Fandom.  We all read and collected science fiction, and published our own fanzines, and Chester’s home became our clubhouse during those years.  Chester was 96 – he lived a long and good life, and touched the lives of hundreds of others along the way.  In a previous post I mentioned that I had been working on creating a Finding Aid for his personal archives.  I was able to complete this project in early January, in time for the appraisal of the sf- and fantasy-content of his extensive book collection, which we at the University of Albert had obtained on donation in October 2007.  I helped spread the word about Chester’s passing to appropriate outlets, such as Mike Glyer’s File 770.  Locus plans to run something about Chester in its upcoming issue.  Chris Rutkowski, a friend and fellow collector from Winnipeg, wrote a fitting tribute to Chester following his passing.  Chester was a friend, a mentor, a guide, an inspiration.  During his last two years, I had the good fortune of reconnecting with his son, Ray, whom I had met in the 1970s, as well as meeting for the first time his other children, and at his memorial service, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Chester will be missed, but his impact on our lives will never be forgotten.  Each of books from his collection will feature a bookplate with his picture and the caption, “The Chester D Cuthbert Collection.”  Thanks for everything, Chester!

.: In case you’ve been wondering what Captain Lee Adama has been doing since the end of BSG, and if you thought you’ve seen every possible spin-off of Law & Order, check this out.  I’ve watched the first six episodes, and the show rocks.  Plus, Freema Agyeman plays the young prosecutor, and I have such a crush on her (ever since Dr Who, you see…)  Thank the Lord for bittorrents.

.: I will try to write again soon.  Meanwhile, please check Bill Janovitz‘s ongoing musical series, Cover of the Weekhe’s up to #23 already!  Check out Flickr to see me wearing one of Bill’s “Part Time Man of Rock” t-shirt.  Buy one for the kiddies or your BFF.

A Vast Wasteland

Posted in Television on September 24th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Every fall I review the list of new television shows with a nod towards adding one or two to the list the ones I watch on a weekly basis. Well, not this year. The shows I will watch are ones already established: Rome, The Wire, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Lost, 24, Saturday Night Live, MAD-TV, Battlestar Galactica, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and the occasional MLB, NFL, and/or NHL game. I think I’ve reached a point where I can’t absorb anything more. Shows with completed seasons already viewed in 2006 include Deadwood, The Sopranos, and Brotherhood.

Yes, it’s an addiction, the idiot box, or as Newton Minnow once noted, “a vast wasteland“, but I continue to watch. One reason is that in recent years, some episodic television, especially on cable, has improved to the point where its quality now matches or surpasses most movies. Additionally, most of the shows on cable have much smaller “seasons” than network television, most often clocking in at 10-12 episodes. Keith offers another view with Your New Mean TV (22 September 2006 entry).

Stephen Colbert Gives Wikipedia a C*ck-Punch

Posted in Humour, Stephen-Colbert, Wikipedia on August 2nd 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: On Monday night, Stephen Colbert nailed Wikipedia on “The Word” segment of The Colbert Report. The “word” on the 31 July 2006 episode was wikiality, the antidote to reality. As Colbert noted, “All we need to do is convince a majority of people that some factoid is true, for instance, uh, I don’t know, that Africa has more elephants today than it did ten years ago”, and it will be considered true, even if it isn’t true (it isn’t) – an example of wikiality in action. (Wikiality is related to truthiness, which “refers to the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”) On the show, Colbert encouraged his viewers to find the Wikipedia article on elephants and edit it to suggest that the population has tripled in the past six months.

Well, enough viewers began working on the Wikipedia site that at least 20 elephant-related entries were temporarily locked down by the Wikipedia moderator(s), as well as the Colbert Report entry. Read: I Blocked Stephen Colbert on Wikipedia, by Andrew (Talkerblog), the moderator in question. Andrew wants Colbert to put him “on notice” for blocking him, but Colbert appears to be ignoring him so far. Extensive coverage appeared quickly on sites like Techdirt, Newsvine, CNET News, and John Q chronicled the gritty details here. Much discussion is ensuing on the Wikipedia discuss page, Talk: The Colbert Report, about the show and the fallout on the Wikipedia site.

Nicely timed, The Onion nailed Wikipedia as well this week, with its headline, “Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence.” My favorite line from the article: “While other news and information websites chose to mark the anniversary in a muted fashion, if at all, Wikipedia gave it prominent emphasis over other important historical events from the same day, including the independence of the nation of Africa in 1847, the 1984 ascension of Constantine to Emperor of the Holy Roman Emperor, and the 1998 birth of Smokey, a calico cat belonging to Mark and Becky Rousch of Erie, PA.” (The Onion’s take on the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup victory is hilariously funny.)

Fred Goss, Sons & Daughters, and More Proof That Network TV Executives Are Weasels

Posted in Fred-Goss, Miscellaneous, Sons-&-Daughters on May 29th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: In a previous post, I raved about the brilliant ABC show, Sons & Daughters, easily the funniest network sitcom I’d seen since Seinfeld, and partially improvised to boot. ABC, in classic fashion, showed great faith in the show by cancelling it after 10 episodes, proving yet again, that network television executives cannot recognize talent and creativity when it is staring them right in their collective faces. Scheduling the show opposite American Idyll didn’t help the cause either. I haven’t felt this passionate about a television show being yanked before its time since ABC tanked the equally brilliant My So-Called Life.

A petition to bring the show back to ABC is online and I’d encourage you to sign it.

Fred Goss, the co-creator, Executive Producer, Writer & Director of the show, is on MySpace and YouTube, and posted two short videos that are worth watching. Fred writes, “This is the presentation I used to sell a pilot to NBC last year. It also led to the sale of Sons & Daughters at ABC. I shot this for under 5000.00 dollars and obviously it was worth every penny.” If you haven’t seen Sons & Daughters, the video has very much the same feel as the show, improvisation, actors playing off one another.

Of the following video, Fred writes, “These are a compilation of additional scenes to the weekends presentation. If you haven’t already watched weekends, I recommend that you watch that before watching this.”

As for Sons & Daughters, read this post, a great summary of why the show is so good. Missed the show? Check the links at the bottom of the aforementioned post, which will take to you videos of all the shows, available on YouTube until ABC yanks them. Brilliant stuff, funny, edgy, and worth the time to watch.

.: The band I am in, Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, played its first gig last night with its current lineup, with me on guitar. We played 14 songs, including 12 originals by David Leigh, the drummer and lead singer. Overall, it went well. Pictures will be posted soon. Many friends and colleagues were in attendance, and my thanks to each of them for taking the time to support my musical escapades.

Out On A Limb: The Sons & Daughters Blog

Posted in Fred-Goss, Sons-&-Daughters on April 5th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Sticking with the teevee theme, I was on the ABC site and noticed that my favorite new sitcom, the brilliant Sons & Daughters, has a blog, Out on a Limb, written by the co-creator and star of the show, Fred Goss. Goss provides some background to the show, including information on his co-stars, the relationship and support of ABC, and what’s forthcoming; comments are encouraged, which gives us the opportunity to give direct feedback to Goss, which is, well, totally cool.

.: Check this: NBC has produced a set of spoofs of its “The More You Know” campaign, featuring cast members from The Office doing the PSA’s. Topics include jellybeans, Saltines, short people, and beer. You may need IE to view them, however, as I can’t get the videos to play in Firefox.

Teeveepedia – The Funniest Web Site Ever?

Posted in Humour, Television on April 4th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Teeveepedia is easily one of the funniest web sites I’ve ever seen. The writing is hilarious and brilliant, and using Wikipedia as its template was a stroke of genius, despite being the obvious thing to do. Dig down into the site and you will find small gems everywhere. I cannot remember laughing out loud so many times while reading through a web site ever. Descriptions of few of my favorite shows:

Homicide: Life on the Street

A sacred, holy narrative! None shall speak against it.

Homicide: Life on the Street aired in the mid-1990s. The apostate network NBC did blaspheme against it by scheduling it for Friday nights, instead of doing a 9 P.M. Law & Order/10 P.M. Homicide block on Wednesday nights. Nonetheless, it clung to life for an astonishing seven seasons, sustained for five of those years by sheer excellence, and in its lamentable sixth and seventh by the unholy presence of Jon Seda.

This brilliant series was never nominated for an Emmy for “best drama,” which proves conclusively that the Emmy Awards mean absolutely nothing.

Homicide was created by ex-journalist David Simon and Tom Fontana. It was also the birthplace of the ever-proliferating John Munch.

Equally hilarious are descriptions of so-called spinoffs, such as:

Star Trek: SVU was a short-lived spinoff of Star Trek centering on the Special Vulcan Unit, a team of elite Federation detectives who solved intergalactic crimes through the application of cold logic and the occasional quirk of their eyebrows. Despite the show’s titillating mind-meld sequences, it ultimately proved a ratings failure, partly because its examination of alien legal systems baffled viewers, and partly because a cast that spoke entirely in measured monotones and had sex only once every seven years put audiences to sleep.

Its fans nonetheless fondly remember the signature episode from the series’ brief run, “For a Handful of Chalk,” in which the cast spends the entire hour writing out the proof to a logical theorem on an immense blackboard to determine whether or not the ambassador from Belisarius V did indeed flarnok with his k’aamot.

The show’s executive producers were Dick Wolf and Majel Barrett Roddenberry.

I haven’t checked every entry yet, but the one that had me laughing out loud and in tears the most is the entry for 24. The description includes recaps for all five seasons. I can’t decide which one is funniest, but here’s Season Two:

Arab terrorists plan to detonate a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles, and only Jack Bauer can stop them. Decapitating a pedophile to get properly warmed up, Jack tortures his way through L.A.’s Muslim communities (with a brief and embarrassing wrong turn into a Sikh neighborhood) in a desperate search for the bomb. After razing a mosque with his bare hands, Jack discovers that his hot new girlfriend’s crazy sister has ties to the terrorists, and dangles her upside-down over a shark tank until she surrenders the bomb’s location. With mere minutes to spare, Jack packs his obnoxious boss and the bomb onto a small plane and sends them cheerily into the Sonoran desert to their irradiated doom. Meanwhile, Kim is attacked by the abusive father of the child she’s babysitting, mows down a nun in a hit-and-run, gets briefly kidnapped by cannibal midgets, causes a plane crash, accidentally severs her boyfriend’s leg, and is nearly eaten by a cougar. She is saved when the cougar sees her in a tank top on a very cold evening, and has to go off and spend some time alone in the bushes. In the shocking final moments of the season, President David Palmer is nearly killed by an infection of gay germs after shaking hands with the naked lesbian terrorist.

I could go on, but I’m laughing too hard. Check out the list of dramas produced by HBO to see why I decided not to add the description of Deadwood to this post.

Teeveepedia is one of a number of parody sites created by The Vidiots.