3960 stories
·
3 followers

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

1 Share


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Read the whole story
mburch42
7 hours ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Why RPG Economies Don't Work

1 Share

Why RPG Economies Don't Work

Read the whole story
mburch42
7 hours ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Before They Were Called Automobiles, Cars Had a Lot of Terrible Names

1 Share

Cars have been around for more than a century now. We take it for granted that we have names like ‘automobile’ and ‘car’ to describe these four-wheeled beasts we love so much; they’re the only names we’ve ever known. But, friends, it could have been worse. It could have been so much worse.

Read more...

Read the whole story
mburch42
18 hours ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Seder

8 Shares


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
I hereby release Taco Bell to use this as an ad campaign.


Today's News:
Read the whole story
mburch42
1 day ago
reply
Share this story
Delete

TV on the Brink: The Disastrous Mid-Season of 1979

1 Comment

Watching “Hello, Larry” -one of the many fails from this ill-fated season

From January through May of 1979, all three major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) premiered an unprecedented 36 new series.  The reason?  NBC, a network that was in an absolute free-fall, had hired Fred Silverman.  He’d been highly successful working for the other two networks, and hopes were high that he could save NBC. He launched a super-aggressive campaign to get the network on track, but the ABC and CBS weren’t going to go down so easily.  What followed was an absolute bloodbath, with a barrage of shows hastily released and dying just as quickly.

When the smoke cleared, NBC was still in last place, and the prime-time battlefield was littered with the remains of dozens of shows – many of which have long been forgotten.  Let’s have a look at the bloody hellscape that was American television in 1979.  Many of these shows will boggle the mind that they actually were released…

1. HIZZONER


It seems like a typical sitcom, but then note that the mayor would break out into song each episode!  Yes, there was a musical number on each show – no wonder it only lasted from May until June.  Starring Walter Cronkite’s daughter Kathy Cronkite.

2. HELLO, LARRY


“Hello, Larry” came to represent this disastrous season – more so, it became the textbook example of a failed, terrible sitcom. I’m not sure why, of all these godawful shows, “Hello, Larry” would be the one to receive the most mockery.  Perhaps it was because it starred McLean Stevenson who had left “on top” in the mega-hit, critically acclaimed M*A*S*H* only to go on to star in one failed series after another.  He was an easy target.

3. THE ROPERS


“The Ropers” was a high-profile disaster.  Audra Lindley and Norman Fell had been lured away from the highly successful “Three’s Company” by dollar signs and the promise that, if the spin-off failed, they’d be invited back to the show.  The promise was broken, and the two would regret their decision – especially Norman Fell who had reservations from the start.  The show featured Jeffrey Tambor as the Ropers’ straight-laced uptight neighbor (who’d be able to show his comic genius years later on “Arrested Development”).  The problem was that the show just wasn’t funny… at all.  Like not even a chuckle is to be had.

4. HIGHCLIFF MANOR


This could have been good – set at a creepy mansion, with a cast straight out of a Mel Brooks spoof (starring Audrey Landers as “Sparkles” and Shelly Fabares).  Yet, it only lasted six episodes.   It does make you wonder: if the battlefield wasn’t so brutal between the three networks, might have some of these shows matured into decent shows?  Watch the first season of Seinfeld and see how a rather lame sitcom can turn into possibly the best TV comedy of all time if allowed the time.

5. 13 QUEENS BOULEVARD


A rather unoriginal and forgettable sitcom about residents of a certain apartment complex, starring Eileen Brennan and Jerry Van Dyke.  It lasted a whopping nine episodes.

6. STOCKARD CHANNING IN JUST FRIENDS


Stockard Channing, an accomplished stage actress, got a lot of recognition after Grease.  She leveraged that into a show with her name in the title. Unfortunately, the show was awful – lasting only from March until June.  You get the impression they wanted to be the new Mary Tyler Moore Show without actually having to try – this is what you get when writers just phone it in.

7. ANGIE


This show had everything going for it.  The stars were Donna Pescow, fresh off Saturday Night Fiver and Robert Hays from Airplane!… plus Garry Marshall  was the creator, and it even had a hit theme song by Maureen McGovern (the gal who sang “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure).

In fact, it did have a successful first season.  However, in its second season, the timeslot was changed, and it absolutely fell off a cliff in the ratings and was abruptly cancelled.  Remember, in this bloody war being waged by Fred Silverman, there was no patience for shows with low ratings.

8. FLATBUSH


A total rip-off of Saturday Night Fever, featuring blue collar Italians (including Adrian Zmed); the theme song even has the refrain of “Staying Alive”.

This is a trend you’ll notice.  Many of these failed ’79 shows were either inspired by or were direct spin-offs from popular films of the day.  Animal House, The Bad News Bears, and Saturday Night Fever on the small screen weren’t exactly inspired adaptations (a la M*A*S*H*) but rather evidence of hastily and thoughtlessly rushing crap to the prime-time lineup that could lure in viewers via brand recognition alone.

9. MAKIN’ IT


This Saturday Night Fever rip-off had the edge over Flatbush – it had a huge hit song (played prominently in the “Meatballs” soundtrack) and the “I’m a Pepper” star, David Naughton.  However, it only lasted nine episodes. TV Guide ranked it number 40 on its 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list

10. BROTHERS & SISTERS


One of three Animal House rip-offs (the other two: Co-Ed Fever, and Delta House) with “Roll Over Beethoven” as its theme, and featuring Bing Crosby’s daughter, Mary Crosby.  It managed to make it to 12 episodes before mercifully being put out of its misery.

11. DELTA HOUSE


This Animal House rip-off announced right in the opening credits that it’s based on the movie.  It featured a young Michelle Pfeiffer and, unlike Brothers & Sisters, had a recipe for success with Ivan Reitman at the helm and significant attention paid to casting and writing.  However, the show was embroiled in constant trouble over censorship, with the network taking issue with content not appropriate for prime-time “family viewing”.

Three networks tried to bring Animal House to the small screen, and all three ended in abysmal failure.  Perhaps the reason wasn’t just that the shows were terrible, but watering down Animal House to be presentable for family-friendly viewing would guarantee failure.

12. CO-ED FEVER


Would you believe this Animal House rip-off only lasted one episode?  If you watched the opening, then you’re not the least bit surprised.  They actually filmed five additional episodes, but the reaction was so poor, they never even aired.

13. TURNABOUT


Sharon Gless (from “Cagney & Lacey) and her husband switch bodies when they say their wish in front of a statue.  You might think that idea would be fertile ground for comedic situations.  You’d be wrong.  Take for example the description for episode three: “Penny informs Sam that her former body’s “monthly visitor” is late; Sam goes to the gynecologist to find out if “he’s” going to become a mother.” Oh, dear.  It lasted seven episodes.

14, THE BAD NEWS BEARS


Yet another movie adaptation; featuring a young Corey Feldman.  It managed to scrape by for two seasons.

15. THE MACKENZIES OF PARADISE COVE


A drama featuring a kids being raised by a reluctant fisherman after their parent’s death.    Viewers said “no thanks”, and it only lasted six episodes.

16. THE CHISHOLMS


The promo notably announces: “Stacy Nelkin is the lusty Bobbie Sue, a young girl with the passions of a woman.” A valiant effort to bring a pioneer story to the small screen.  “Little House on the Prairie” had been a huge success, and Westerns were always a surefire hit, so why not?  Despite having the creator of “Bonanza” involved, it was an utter failure.

17. MARRIED: THE FIRST YEAR


With a sappy, corny opening like this, how could it have done anything but fail?  It lasted a total of four episodes.

18. SWEEPSTAKES


Like “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island” it consisted of different grade-Z guest stars each episode.  The setup here is that they win the lottery and we watch their lives change.  (Groan.) It lasted nine episodes.

19. MRS. COLUMBO


Peter Falk (the original Columbo) called this spin-off a “bad idea” and “disgraceful”.  I couldn’t agree more.  It lasted two seasons.

That same year, the show distanced itself from Columbo and changed the title of the show to “Kate Loves a Mystery”.

20. SALVAGE 1


Possibly the most ridiculous of them all.  Starring Andy Griffith as a junkyard owner who devises a plan to go to the moon.  Isaac Asimov served as scientific advisor (although, they clearly didn’t listen to him much).  It started out with high ratings, but gradually dropped – lasting two seasons.

 

These weren’t the only disasters to air during this turbulent season from January through May of 1979.  Also dropping like flies were: Harris & Company, Miss Winslow and Son, Presenting Susan Anton, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, Friends, Little Woman (starring Eve Plum – Jan Brady!), Doctor’s Private Lives, Dear Detective (starring Brenda Vaccaro), Supertrain…  the list goes on.

For every cloud there is a silver lining.  A few decent shows did emerge from this mess.  Real People, BJ and the Bear, and The Dukes of Hazzard also premiered and became legitimate successes.

The post TV on the Brink: The Disastrous Mid-Season of 1979 appeared first on Flashbak.

Read the whole story
mburch42
2 days ago
reply
Captain Janeway was "Mrs. Colombo"?
Share this story
Delete

How England Got Its Curvy Cucumbers Straightened Out

1 Comment

The cucumber straightener was a marvel of British horticulture.

article-image

In the mid-19th century, England was no country for crooked cucumbers. A curly, misshapen, or discolored specimen might be tossed to the pigs, who certainly wouldn’t mind. But by 1845, more perfect cucurbits were within reach. To straighten out a wayward cucumber, a 19th-century British gardener might have told you, you just needed to give it a little love. And maybe a giant glass straightjacket.

Long, tubular, and made of glass, the cucumber straightener is perhaps the most simple and superfluous gardening tool in history. But in the eyes of British gardeners, it rectified an intolerable perversity: a hooking, twisting cucumber.

Long before England was obsessed with straight cucumbers, it was disgusted by them. The first cucumbers made their way to Great Britain in the 1300s, and inspired great disdain among the English that persisted for centuries. According to 18th-century British writer Samuel Johnson, it was commonly said among English physicians that a cucumber "should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.” The vine-growing fruit was even dubbed the “cowcumber,” suggesting the vegetable was so vile it only ought to touch the lips of livestock.

It wasn’t until the iconic cucumber sandwich became popular among Queen Victoria's family that the produce began to gain prestige. Subsequently, the delicate sandwich became an iconic teatime snack in British high society, and the cucumber, suddenly, was in vogue. To ensure the fruit could be slipped easily between slices of bread, it needed to be sliced thinly and evenly. Which called for a straighter cucumber.

This might not seem like a big deal, but growing straight cukes is no simple task. Cucumbers begin to curve for a number of reasons, from humidity and temperature shifts to poor pollination. Some varieties of cucumbers curl easier than others, too. So unless gardeners really knew what they were doing, they’d likely end up tossing some of the harvest to the hogs.

article-image

For British engineer George Stephenson, however, leaving a cucumber’s fate up to chance wasn’t an option. A tinkerer from an early age, Stephenson spent most of his life working on the first British railway system. Best known for creating the “Rocket,” an early steam locomotive, and the first public inter-city line for locomotives, he became renowned as the “Father of the Railways.” But he was also a horticulturist at heart, and as his locomotive career wound down, Stephenson took the innovation and perseverance that helped him excel on the tracks into the garden.

Stephenson was no leisurely gardener. Out of passion (and fierce rivalry with his friend Paxton, the gardener for the Duke of Devonshire), he began erecting vineries, pineries, apiaries, melon houses, and forcing houses, where he grew tropical fruits and vegetables. He vowed to grow pineapples the size of pumpkins, and engineered melon baskets from wire gauze to assist their growth. He was largely successful, too, winning a prize for his pines, and growing nationally acclaimed grapes.

His cucumbers, however, gave him trouble. Despite adjusting temperature, light, and the position from which they would grow, Stephenson’s cucumbers would relentlessly curl. Frustrated, the civil engineer crafted hollow glass cylinders in his Newcastle steam engine factory for his Tapton House garden.

The device was a long, delicate, glass tube that fit a growing cucumber like a giant glove. According to landscape artist and historian Mark Morrison, a wire was strung through the top of the contraption to hang the straighteners in the garden or greenhouse. As the cucumbers grew, the vine would be fed through the tube, so that the cucumber hung vertically like a giant, green, phallic ornament within the narrow glass brace.

article-image

When Stephenson removed his cucumbers from the tube, he was pleasantly surprised. The cucumbers, indeed, had grown to fit the straight mold of the glass cylinders they had grown inside. It was said that he showed off the final product to a group of visitors and declared, “I think I have bothered them noo!

An enterprising lad through and through, Stephenson patented the big glass tube, which became a popular tool for well-to-do Victorian gardeners and farmers. Using straightening glasses was likely a common tactic among those entering cucumber competitions all about size and curvature—or lack thereof. According to the Gardener’s Chronicle, the winner of the 1848 Stockport Cucumber Show clocked in at 22.5 inches long and, most importantly, was “perfectly straight and level as the barrel of a gun.”

However, as 19th-century writer Isabella Beeton pointed out, using a cucumber straightener did not come without risk. “When the tubes are used, it is sometimes necessary to watch them,” she wrote, “in order that, during the swelling of the fruit, they are not wedged into the tubes so tightly that they are difficult to withdraw.”

article-image

Eventually, the glass straighteners went out of style. According to Morrison, they died out, like many Victorian-era tools, as the Industrial Revolution hit full stride. “Years ago, all the cucumber straighteners were blown, and all the tools were made by hand by a local blacksmith," he says. "Once the Industrial Revolution hit and manufacturing started, a lot of the art was lost.” The blown glass tubes were costly, labor-intensive, and, perhaps, not wholly necessary. Morrison points out that simply hanging the cucumbers vertically produces a relatively straight fruit. In the end, the glass tubes were likely replaced by vertical farming methods and the non-curving varietals many cucumber farmers use today.

But even as Stephenson’s glass straighteners disappeared, the desire for straight cucumbers persisted. Largely, Morrison points out, this was a relic of the times and a society structured around royalty. “We joke, of course, the royal family could never eat a crooked cucumber,” he says. But he also notes that there was a practical application: The curvier the cukes, the fewer could fit in a crate or a shipping container.

In fact, as of quite recently, E.U. regulations discouraged dramatic curvature in cucumbers. Until 2008, it was required by law that all Class I cucumbers sold across Europe be “practically straight,” and “bent with a gradient of no more than 1/10.” Though the technology has changed, the appetite for aesthetically pleasing produce hasn’t.

Read the whole story
mburch42
4 days ago
reply
Oh my.
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories