Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer List #2 - My Favorite TV Shows

In order to create this list, I researched the top 300 shows of the last five decades.  Again, the only rule that applies is that the show must've debuted after I was born (at least in its current format).  So, you won't see The Honeymooners on this list even though it's my all-time favorite TV show.

I learned something about myself while putting this list together.  I don't watch a lot of television.  That's a good thing, right?

But, I've also missed out on plenty of good programming.  I have too much going on in my life to make the necessary commitment, I guess.  At some point, I might try binge-watching.  Right now, I'd rather not waste my time in front of the screen (at least not that one).

So, if you see shows missing from my list, I guarantee it's because I've never seen an episode (I feel most guilty about The Sopranos, by the way).  Rarely, have I started a program and not watched it through until it's run its course (or at least until it's jumped the shark).  Not my personality type.  I finish what I start.

The programs are listed in order by favorite and grouped by genre.

Seinfeld, 1989-1998
All in the Family, 1971-1979
The Odd Couple, 1970-1975
Everybody Loves Raymond, 1996-2005
Curb Your Enthusiasm, 1999-2011
Taxi, 1978-1983
Happy Days, 1974-1984
The Big Bang Theory, 2007 - present
East Bound and Down, 2009-2013
Married with Children, 1987-1997

Science Fiction/Supernatural Dramas
The Six Million Dollar Man, 1974-1978
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1997-2003
The Incredible Hulk, 1978-1982
The Walking Dead, 2010 - present
Chuck, 2007-2012

Legal/Crime-Action Dramas
Magnum P.I., 1980-1988
Law & Order SVU, 1999 - present

Soap Opera
The Young & the Restless, 1973 - present

Comedy/Variety Shows
Whose Line Is It Anyway?, 1998-2007
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, 2014 - present
Saturday Night Live, 1975 - present

Game Shows
Jeopardy, 1984 - present
Wheel of Fortune, 1975 - present
The Price Is Right, 1972 - present

Animated Sitcoms
The Simpsons, 1989 - present
Bob's Burgers, 2011 - present

Monday Night Football, 1970 - present
SportsCenter, 1979 - present

CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, 1981-1993
AC360, 2003 - present

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer List #1 - My Favorite 50 Movies

Movies have always played an important role in my life.  They are my favorite form of entertainment.  Except for perhaps vocal melody, I believe motion pictures provide us with the greatest potential for artistic achievement.  When I was young, I staged imaginary movies with my younger brother.  Together, we wrote, directed, and performed.  I wish we would've had cameras to capture the magic.  I think the list says a lot about me.  I enjoy epic dramas, some horror movies, plenty of screwball comedies, and blockbusters.  I don't care for art house crap.  Some of the most popular franchises are missing.  You'll see which ones.  For the record, I differentiate between what I call my favorites and what could be considered the best.  In other words, not all the ones I enjoy won awards.

Really, there's only one rule here.  The movie had to be released during my lifetime.  Oh, and I listed only one film from any series.  So, I guess that's two rules.  These are in chronological order by first release.

The Godfather, 1972
Jaws, 1975
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975
Rocky, 1976
The Pink Panther Strikes Again, 1976
Smokey and the Bandit, 1977
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
Poltergeist, 1982
First Blood, 1982
Friday the 13th Part IV, 1984
The Breakfast Club, 1985
Fletch, 1985
Back to the Future, 1985
Aliens, 1986
Raising Arizona, 1987
Die Hard, 1988
The 'Burbs, 1989
Christmas Vacation, 1989
Goodfellas, 1990
The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
Terminator 2, 1991
Cape Fear, 1991
Schindler's List, 1993
Pulp Fiction, 1994
Braveheart, 1995
Donnie Brasco, 1997
The Big Lebowski, 1998
Saving Private Ryan, 1998
Office Space, 1999
Analyze This, 1999
The Green Mile, 1999 
Cast Away, 2000
Signs, 2002
Gangs of New York. 2002
Old School, 2003
Pirates of the Caribbean, 2003
Shaun of the Dead, 2004
Meet the Fockers, 2004
Talladega Nights, 2006
The Departed, 2006
Superbad, 2007
No Country for Old Men, 2007
Step Brothers, 2008
Inglourious Basterds, 2009
Super 8, 2011
Ted, 2012
The Campaign, 2012
Flight, 2012
Silver Linings Playbook, 2012
This Is the End, 2013

Monday, June 1, 2015


I enjoy making lists and collecting quotes.  I have a folder in my file cabinet full of them.  Most of what interests me comes from television and the movies, so you won't find anything profound like "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." or "Dear me, I think I'm becoming a God."  But, you will find Poe's "God help my poor soul." because there's something about his struggle that fascinates me.

Some of the lines are funny.  Some are stupid.  Most reveal something about my place in the world at the time I first heard them.  I spend a lot of time searching for answers.  These provide me with a glimpse of hope.

"That's what a writer does.  Takes the truth and twists it."
-Lucille Ball, 1950's.

"How she feels?  How 'bout me?  How 'bout how I feel?"
"You're gonna get it.  I don't know what second, what minute, but you're gonna get yours."
-Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason).  The Honeymooners, 1950's.

"I want love.  I want life, damn it!"
"In the midst of death, we are in life."
"It makes you feel less lonely in the dark."
-General Leo FitzJohn (Peter Sellers).  Waltz of the Toreadors, 1962.

"I can make you do anything I want.  Absolutely anything.  I can make you dance.  I can make you sit or kneel, or I can take away your power like this!"
-El Presidente Rodriguez.  Gilligan's Island, 1965.

"It's real!  It's real!  No matter what it is, it's not nothing."
-Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington) on death.  One Day at a Time. 1970's.

"The universe is a very big place, but if you accept me, we could make it one step smaller."
-Mork from Ork (Robin Williams).  Mork and Mindy, 1980's.

"There are many things in this universe you're not meant to understand.  But they are real.  I'm real."
-Alf (Gordon Shumway).  Alf, 1980's.
"Can you please explain to me the meaning of the word, 'oops'?"
-Willie Tanner (Max Wright),  Alf, 1980's.

"I've never seen that.  I never seen anybody drive their garbage down to the street and then bang the hell out of it with a stick.  I've never seen that."
-Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks).  The Burbs, 1989.

"You have just said goodbye to oxygen."
-Big Boy (Al Pacino).  Dick Tracy, 1990.

"I'd rather be a failure in something that I loved than a success in something that I didn't."
-George Burns, 1991.

"The male kangaroo doesn't have a pouch.  Only the female has it, so the male has pouch envy.  Why should she have this huge pouch, and I have nothing?  I have things to carry, too.  At least, at least give me a pocket."
-Polar Bear.  Seinfeld, 1992.

"Pull the string!"
-Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau).  Ed Wood, 1994.

"Necessary?  Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine?  No.  But I do it anyway 'cause it's sterile and I like the taste."
Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn).  Dodgeball, 2004.

"That's good.  Pretend he's your little sister.  Your little sister with a pitcher.  Playin' a little guitar."
Officer Slater (Bill Hader).  Superbad, 2007.
"He's a freak.  He's the fastest kid alive.  He's the fastest kid alive."
Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen).  Superbad, 2007.

"I drink your milkshake."
-Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis).  There Will Be Blood, 2007.

Here's my favorite quote from any stage play (and since I've done theatre for over 35 years now, I think it matters.)

"And you - ain't you bitter, man?  Ain't you just about had it yet?  Don't you see no stars gleaming that you can't just reach out and grab?  You happy?  You contented son of a bitch - you happy?  You got it made?  Bitter?  Man, I'm a volcano.  Bitter?  Here I am - a giant, surrounded by ants!  Ants who can't even understand what it is the giant is talking about!"
-Brother Younger (Danny Glover).  A Raisin in the Sun, 1959 (original Broadway production).

Here are a couple of personal ones.

"e to the motherfuckin tan" - graffiti I found scribbled in a high school notebook, 2005.  A former student and I were cleaning out my classroom.  I tore out the scrap of paper and saved it.

"I'm real. I'm freakishly truthful."
-Graham Schaafsma, 2008.  (A student of mine, I think, using an alias.  If anyone knows who this is, please let me know.)

"bannes, grips, wall-meel. all frista" - my grandfather's shopping list, early 1980's.  I kept this, but not to shame him.  Thinking about him and the time we spent together (with my brothers) makes me smile.  He's the one person I wish my wife and children could've met.  The note, of course, was a reminder for my grandmother to grab bananas, grapes, and watermelon while at the supermarket.  All fruit.