Archive for August 2006

The Man of Styrofoam!

August 26, 2006

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Supes&Me, originally uploaded by Niall Mor.

Received ol’ Supes here as a belated birthday present from a co-worker. Another co-worker snapped the picture.

Words to Live By

August 26, 2006

from my friend Linda:

They can’t get your goat if they don’t know where it’s tied.

Blasts From the Past

August 20, 2006

Now that my parents are gone, I find myself really treasuring reminders of them and all the generations of my family that came before us. I received one such really big reminder last weekend: a small antique desk that belonged to my great-grandmother. It’s not a roll-top, but I don’t know what this style of desk would be called. The writing surface folds down from the desk supported by slats or rails that can be pulled out from the body of the desk. I understand that my great-grandfather Roberts bought it for my great-grandmother, and that at one time it sported an elaborate, highly carved top piece that held a mirror. Such fru-fru was probably too much for my great-grandmother’s eminently practical Germanic sensibilities, and she had that top piece removed. When my mother was a little girl and went to visit her grandmother, she was allowed to sit at the desk and play while her grandmother took a nap. Years later, as a boy I played at that same desk. As a kid I was fascinated with the idea of being a private detective along the lines of Sherlock Holmes or Jim Rockford, and that desk was my “office.” It has cubbyholes and drawers aplenty, just the kind of thing in which the Hardy Boys might find a long lost treasure map or a vital clue. I kept hoping I would find a secret compartment or a false bottom in one of the drawers. No luck. I’m also sorry to report I haven’t found a secret passage to Narnia, Middle Earth, or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but it looks to me like the sort of furniture that could lead to such a place.

I’ve loved that desk ever since those days of daydreams, and Mom promised me that I could have it. Last weekend my sister and her husband delivered it (in the rain, bless their hearts). I feared it would be too big for my tiny apartment, but there was a perfect spot for it in my living room. Almost magical, one might say. It’s the first piece of furniture in the apartment that wasn’t bought or donated when I moved here, so it’s the first piece of furniture that has a real history and a connection to happier times. I also have my great-grandmother’s lovely, delicate tiny gold Rosary inscribed with the words “Mrs. J. J. Roberts” and a date, Oct. 26, 1913. It must have been a birthday or anniversary gift. I have my Dad’s old wristwatch, but my skinny wrists can’t accommodate it. He left some big wrists to fill.

To my faithful readers (all two of you), I offer this advice. Remember the past, live in the present, and look to the future.

The Cable Guy: Addendum

August 12, 2006

We had some thunderstorms earlier this week, bringing much needed rain to these parts, but as a result of the storms, one of the three shopping channels went out. That’s right. There are not one, not two, but three shopping channels in my basic cable package of fewer than two dozen total channels. How much bling does one need?

The Cable Guy

August 5, 2006


Well, I did it.

About a month ago I signed up for cable, something I resisted doing for a long time.

Ya see, it’s like this. My sister-in-law asked me if there was anything of Mom’s that I wanted. I asked for Mom’s TV since it was about twice the size of the one I had. I don’t watch much regular TV, but I do rent movies from Netflix so I figured a big screen would be nice when I watched a movie. This new, bigger TV didn’t have “rabbit ears” or an external antenna, so it was pretty much cable or nothin.’ I signed up for the bare bones, no frills, most basic, basic, basic of packages (all the broadcast networks, PBS, C-SPAN, and a couple of Christian stations) because all the other packages were more expensive with a lot of stuff I’d never watch anyway.

I have to say that even with this minimalist approach it’s been interesting. I can now get not one, but two NBC stations (why I don’t know), while before I couldn’t really get even one, except in good weather. One show I’ve discovered via cable is “Sue Thomas: F. B. Eye”. It’s about a young deaf woman who lands a job with an elite team of FBI agents specializing in surveillance because of her acute powers of observation and skill at lip reading. Since the show originated on the former PAX-TV channel, a Christian cable station, it’s light on onscreen violence and heavy on a positive, uplifting, vaguely religious message. Sue frequently tells her fellow agents or the people who come to them for help, “I prayed for you,” or “God brought your daughter back,” or something similar. Think of it as “Touched by an Agent,” a cross between “Without a Trace” and “Touched by an Angel.”

Sometimes, however, the show’s efforts to be heartwarming come across as just plain sappy, and if you want gritty realism and hard hitting crime drama, this isn’t the show for you. Sometimes the plot twists make my implausibility meter go off the scale. In a recent episode, an agent’s gambling addiction that he had concealed resurfaces when he goes undercover to catch a crook participating in a high stakes poker game. This is the FBI, for Pete’s sake! Don’tcha think they’d know if one of their agents had a gambling problem because he’d be a security risk? On second thought, some of the worst spies and security leaks in this country in recent years have been FBI agents, so I guess it’s possible.

What makes the show interesting to me is the fact that Sue Thomas is a real person (albeit a good bit older and less telegenic than her TV alter ego) who did have a real job with the FBI, and the actress who plays her is really deaf, so there is a grain of truth in these highly dramatized and romanticized adventures. I’m encouraged to see somebody with a disability playing a lead role in a series with a positive message.

Unfortunately for fans, however, PAX-TV was recently bought out by somebody else, who changed the name and appears to be in the process of changing the station’s focus and programming. The producers of “Sue Thomas” had already stopped making new episodes, and now the parent company wants to scale the reruns back to once a week and possibly eliminate the show altogether. There are no plans to re-release the show on DVD. I just checked on the show’s website, and the small but vocal fanbase who post on the message boards are upset. I can understand why. Even though I can see flaws in the show, and even though I’ve only been watching a short while, the show has grown on me. This looks like yet another example of a corporate TV behemoth obliterating an original, entertaining show that didn’t score high enough in the ratings (i.e., make enough money), in order to replace it with just more of the same ol’ same ol’. That’s the free market at work, baby! *Sigh*