Cinema Wasteland Look-Ahead

In just 30 hours, we sold our home of 10 years and bought a new house. I’m excited, overwhelmed, and running on fumes. And I can’t wait to step away from it all for a couple days and escape to Cinema Wasteland.
The line-up of movies is excellent, and with not 1 but 2 “Night of the Living Dead” guest panels, there is sure to be a lot to discover about this foundational film. Also, it’s been a while since I watched “Death Dream,” a fantastic film that deserves more attention than it gets.
Here’s a preview of our itinerary (I’ll be in the company of my partner in life and crime, of course).  Catch me if you can!
Saturday, April 8:
1:30 p.m. – Guest panel with 4 out of 10 of the original investors who financed “Night of the Living Dead” in movie room 1.

3 p.m. Shorts: “Teacher’s Pet” and “Bedtime Worries,” a couple of Our Gang/Little Rascals episodes in movie room 1.

4 p.m. Guest panel with the attending cast of “Night of the Living Dead” in movie room 1. 

5:30 p.m. Movie: Boris Karloff in “Corridors Of Blood” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

7 p.m.Eat, drink, shop!

10:30 p.m. Movie: “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

12 a.m. – Wasteland Intermission Reel in movie room 1.

12:30 a.m. Movie: “Death Dream” in movie room 2.

Sunday, April 9:
Noon Movie: Made-for-TV slasher film “Deadly Lessons” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.

1:30 p.m. Movie: “Night of the Living Dead” on 16 mm film in movie room 1.
I’ll be live tweeting from @andrearogers using #cinemawasteland. Have your own itinerary to share? I’d love to see how you’re spending your Wasteland weekend.

4 Shows to Watch on Netflix Right Now

By Andrea Rogers It’s cold and snowy (in some parts of the Midwest, at least), and I have come down with an awful cold. So Hygge Week on The Smart Domestic couldn’t have come at a better time, because I’ve become an expert on what to binge-watch from your soft couch, with the the comfort…

via Netflix and Hygge: What to watch this winter — The Smart Domestic

Hail Zombo: A recap of Theatre Bizarre

From the moment you walk into The Masonic for Theatre Bizarre, you feel like you stepped into another world — a dreamlike, dark fantasy.

img_0804

There are sideshow performers everywhere — sword swallowers, suspension performers, fire breathers, dancers, contortionists and more — set in the vast, lavishly decorated Masonic complex in Detroit. The performers interact with you on an almost intimate level — touching your shoulder, whispering in your ear, beckoning you to come closer.

There are 8 floors and about 10 venues within The Masonic, and there’s no way you can see everything at Theatre Bizarre as shows run continuously in every venue. All of the performances are expertly staged and seamless, which is amazing considering the scale of the event.

14725699_10207122763538476_1293090472945748660_n-1
Photo Credit: Amy Hronek

Our merry band of revelers (pictured above, left to right: my partner in life and crime, me, and our BFFs Dave and Amy) started the night with a visit to The Dirty Devils Peepshow burlesque revue. Early in the night, the crowds were small, and we were front and center for the show.img_0810

The burlesque performers are a highlight for me — I love the old Hollywood glamour of burlesque.

We stayed for 3 shows — all the ladies were fierce, but Tana the Tattooed Lady stole the show. Tana was mesmerizing, beautiful, exotic, alluring (basically everything you want in a burlesque show).

The Ballroom on the lowest level is the main stage and features bands and dancers all night. The Theatre Bizarre brass band also comes through, and that’s something you don’t want to miss. This is also the best place to “people watch” — the costumes at Theatre Bizarre are incredible and never disappoint.

Although I really wanted to see Mat Fraser (star of American Horror Story Freak Show), The Odditorium where he was performing was jam-packed mid-way through the night, so we moved on.

img_0817Food and drinks are plentiful, which is fortunate, because this event is an all-nighter. There’s even an Ice Screams & Sweet Dreams ice cream parlor, where you can get a free, handmade cup of liquor-infused sorbet or ice cream, served by some creepy-cute soda jerks. I went with the blood orange sorbet, which was quite refreshing.

We had the privilege of watching a full set from Cult of the Psychic Fetus, a gothic rockabilly band from Cleveland. The sound in the smaller ballroom, The Asylum, where they played was great, and there were even seats around the perimeter, which was a huge bonus for my tired feet (I don’t often wear high heels, so I was one tired flapper by night’s end).

cult
Photo credit: Amy Hronek

We wandered down to a smaller stage called The Beezlepub and my ears immediately perked up when I heard a cover of “Henry Lee,” by Nick Cave and PJ Harvey (on the perfect album “Murder Ballads”). Up next in the set was a quirky version of “Who Was in My Room Last Night” by Butthole Surfers. If I was intrigued before, I was all in at this point. The band, Brunswick Brawlers, played a great set of country-rockabilly covers and originals.

img_0822

Weary from a a long night on our feet, our motley band of best buds settled into seats in The Sinema and watched a couple silent shorts, as well as some clips from “The Devil’s Rain.” I found myself nodding off a couple times, which meant it was time to wind down for the evening. My pumpkin turns into a carriage not too long after the stroke of midnight.

As I looked at my Instagram story the next day, I was struck by all the happenings from the previous evening. Theatre Bizarre is grand in scale — and the memories are like a dream — singular moments, strange sights and sensuous characters that leave a strong impression.

img_0800

Cinema Wasteland recap: Hitchcock and Psychos

I kicked off the month of October in true form — with my hometown horror convention, Cinema Wasteland. I can’t say it enough, but this really is my favorite convention — the guests, films, event lineup and vendors are perfectly suited to my taste, budget and Midwestern sensibility (I like friendly and easygoing people).

With my time limited by budget and family constraints, I only had Saturday afternoon to do the Wasteland, but I made the most of it.

I had the chance to watch 2 flicks I’ve never seen — “Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Final Performance” and “Psychos in Love.” Both were accompanied by guest Q & A sessions.

“Final Performance” was a pleasant surprise — I haven’t seen any of the episodes of this ’60s Hitchcock series, but if there are more like this, then count me in. It was by Robert Bloch, who also wrote “Psycho” and there are plenty of similarities — creepy innkeeper in an isolated outpost, anyone?

The story goes like this. A TV writer on his way to Hollywood gets stopped by a woman running through the countryside. He picks her up and agrees to let her ride along, only to be stopped for speeding a short while later by the town sheriff. The girl spins a yarn about being kidnapped, and the sheriff tells the writer to come into town. Only his car won’t start, so he gets a tow and is stuck there in town, at a suspicious motel owned by an older gentleman. The tension is high as he realizes not all is as it seems, and there’s a fantastic twist ending.

Following “Final Performance,” actress Sharon Farrell (pictured middle, with interviewers Art Ettinger of Ultra Violent magazine (far left) and Ken, the Cinema Wasteland showrunner) did a Q & A session with the audience. She wrote a book about her time in Hollywood and was candid about her relationships with some leading men from the era, including Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee.

The discussion was intimate and personal, and Farrell broke down in tears when she discussed some of her recent struggles. Moments like this are where Cinema Wasteland really shines — it’s not a cookie-cutter experience. It’s real and personal, and sometimes a bit messy.

After a fun dinner and drinks with friends, we sat down for a Q & A discussion with the star and writer of “Psychos in Love, “Carmine Capobianco (pictured left, with Ettinger). Capobianco was right at home at Cinema Wasteland — he was funny and personable, and shared some hilarious stories.

“Psychos in Love” played immediately afterward. It’s a bloody, low-budget, laugh-out-loud horror comedy. For this murderino, it was a perfect way to wrap the night.

Wasteland memories: H.G. Lewis

I had the pleasure of meeting H. G. Lewis in 2010.

H.G. Lewis died today.

I remember meeting the legendary “Godfather of Gore” in 2010 at Cinema Wasteland. I watched his newest flick “The Uh-Oh Show” and he did a Q&A with the audience. He was warm and funny, and he exuded a love of film-making.

Afterward, we stopped by his table and talked about his movies, and his work outside of the gore business — he also had a career in marketing, and even wrote a textbook on the subject.

What strikes me about this experience, upon hearing of his passing, is that it’s in no way unique for a Cinema Wasteland show. A small, intimate gathering,  Wasteland has a family-feel (not to be mistaken with family-friendly). It hosts a treasure-trove of the best, most unique guests representing the good old days of horror — when drive-ins were plentiful, 42nd Street was grindhouse and practical effects were the only effects.

No long lines and reasonable autograph fees allow fans to meet and make memories with guests like H.G. Lewis.

As we prepare for another Wasteland weekend, I’m looking forward to meeting the cast of “The Evil Dead” (for the second time, actually), as well as Sharon Farrell and Carmine Capobianco. We can only attend on Saturday (parenting duty calls), but here’s a preview of our schedule.

Want to see live tweets from the show? Follow me @andrearogers on Twitter.

3 p.m. Guest event: The cast and crew discus 35 years of “The Evil Dead” after the movie screening.

4:15 p.m. Classic TV on film: “Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Final Performance,” with guest Sharon Farrell.

5:30 p.m. Guest event: Sharon Farrell meets with fans to discuss her long career in film and television.

7:30 p.m. Guest event: Carmine Capobianco shares stories from his fun films released in the video days of the 1980s.

8:45pmMovie: “Psychos in Love,” Carmine Capobianco’s most well known and loved film.

Is “A Nightmare on Elm Street” the quintessential horror film?

a-nightmare-on-elm-street-main-reviewI noticed a curious thing when all of the those #7favfilms lists were flying around on Twitter earlier this month. Almost every horror list contained Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” including my own.

This gave me pause. What is it about “Nightmare” that makes it so timeless and universally well-received?

The concept is transcendent.

The average person is asleep for about 1/3 of their life. And yet, the Land of Nod remains mysterious. It is a bodily function outside of our control — often compared to death in literature and art.
the-average-person-is-asleep-for-about-1%2f3-of-their-life-and-yet-the-land-of-nod-remains-mysterious-1
Sometimes we recall our dreams, and sometimes we can’t. Often, a dream just leaves us with a feeling — dread, sadness, fright or happiness. By no means a passive act, sleep can be a very physical experience. I’ve had my fair share of night terrors, and believe me, they are real and they are upsetting. When deprived of sleep, the insomniac feels like a shell of a person.

That’s the hook that catches every “Nightmare” viewer — we all sleep. Young, old, rich, poor, black, white or brown, everyone can relate to the vulnerability of being asleep. And Freddy Krueger is a killer who stalks his prey while they sleep, through the vessel of their dreams — the ultimate boogeyman.

The special effects hold up. 

This is when I climb on my soapbox and declare that even the most rudimentary practical effects will hold up better over time than the computer generated imagery from the same era.”Nightmare” was released in 1984. It gave us terrifying, visually stunning special effects scenes like this one.

Know what else was released in 1984? “The Last Starfighter,” which may have been notable for its use of computer generated imagery at the time, but just doesn’t hold up today.

The casting is perfect.

At the time, John Saxon (who plays Nancy’s father) was probably the most recognizable cast member. Johnny Depp (Glen) was a fresh face, with “Nightmare” preceding “21 Jump Street” by 3 years.  Robert Englund became synonymous with Freddy as the franchise expanded, but he wasn’t well known in 1984.

The other actors — Heather Langenkamp (Nancy), Amanda Wyss (Tina) and Jsu Garcia (Rod) — were relatively unknown.

This is important because we can relate to the characters — the actors aren’t larger than life personalities, they are people we care about. We are devastated by their deaths. Like Jamie Lee Curtis, Langenkamp is the girl next door with the out-of-touch parents; the cute, easygoing boyfriend; and the slightly wild best friend.

This is a crucial element that is lost in most new horror movies. Take Ouija (2014), a movie chock full of CW-esque beautiful young people. They are mediocre actors, reading mediocre scripts in movies that rely on jump scares. We don’t care if these kids make it to the final act, and we don’t have any emotional investment in their stories.

ouija-movie-header

Back to my original question.

Is “A Nightmare on Elm Street” the quintessential horror film? Of course, you could argue that movie preference is a matter of taste. And there will certainly be naysayers out there, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “yes.”

It’s as close to a perfect fright flick as you’re ever going to get. It’s scary, gory and young-at-heart, but it has the proper doses of all those ingredients — just enough to take you to the edge, and pull you back. It’s a movie that you can watch over and over, and never get tired of — thank goodness, because who would want to fall asleep after watching it?

#7favfilms: My horror list

I’ve mentioned before that I love lists. So when I saw #7favfilms trending, I had to jump into the fray and add my Top 7 Favorite Horror Films. Here they are in chronological order by release date (I simply can’t rank these movies):

exorcist-1-1050x591
“The Exorcist” (1973)

This is the O.G. of terror. It starts so softly,  so slowly — with some scratching sounds in the attic. You care deeply about this mother and daughter, and the troubled priest who they turn to. Expertly crafted, the story is intense and realistic and the scenes are still shocking today.

True confession — I once stayed up half the night with the lights on after watching “The Exorcist.” I even called my now-husband, Dave, to try to get un-scared.

For the record, I like the version without the spider-walking Regan best — practically, it’s a good effect, but it is too much and it takes away from the intimacy of the confrontation in her bedroom.

texas-chainsaw-massacre

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a visceral experience. It punches you in the gut and then backs you into a corner for an all-out assault.

TCM is gritty. To this day, my most memorable viewing was on public access on my tiny dorm-room TV in college. It was so dark, I couldn’t even see what was happening in that chase scene through the woods, but the roar of the chainsaw and the desperation of the characters conveyed everything.

Alien (1979) Directed by Ridley Scott Shown: Sigourney Weaver

“Alien” (1979)

Ripley is a boss. Period. She is the perfect heroine — she’s relatable, she’s smart and she wants to survive. For anyone who ever said that horror movies aren’t kind to females, we can hold up Ripley as a shining beacon of all that is right in the genre.

We could argue classification all day with this one (it fits just fine in the sci-fi genre too), but the sheer artistry of H.R. Giger’s xenomorph and the incredible set design give it more than enough horror cred to make my list.

deadite

“The Evil Dead” (1981)

For being a lifelong horror fan, I came to know “The Evil Dead” rather late in life — I was introduced to it at around age 18 by my now-husband (I think I’m going to start call him that on the reg for fun).

The distinctly low-budget feel of “The Evil Dead” is precisely what makes it so scary — and it’s got this raw, weirdness to it that is very off-putting (yes, I’m talking about that assault-by-a-possessed-tree scene). All that being said, it is highly re-watchable.

thing

“The Thing” (1982)

Like “Alien,” John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing” is driven by the isolation of the protagonist. Also, Kurt Russell is everything — sexy, sexy, sexy.

“The Thing” is the gold standard of practical special effects, and it’s one of the few remakes that easily surpasses the original (Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is another notable exception). It also has a wonderful score that was a collaboration between Ennio Morricone and Carpenter.

nightmare-on-elm-street1984-1

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Do you remember the first time you met Freddy Krueger? This movie showed up on almost all the horror lists I read. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence — I think there is something transcendent about this monster — a killer of children who haunts our dreams with a glove of knives.

Time hasn’t softened the effect of the kills in “Nightmare” — Tina’s death is just as brutal today as it was in 1984. And although Freddy eventually became a rapping pop tart, repeat viewings of the first installment in the franchise remind me that he was first and foremost the stuff of nightmares.

pinhead

“Hellraiser” (1987)

Clive Barker’s masterwork, “Hellraiser,” is a deep well. It’s visually stunning and artfully shot, the acting is razor-sharp, and the story is something out of a fetishistic fever dream.

The first time I saw “Hellraiser,” I was terrified of the cenobites, and to be sure, they are still pure horror. But it’s Julia and Frank who are the real villains in this story — explorers in pleasure and pain, devoid of morality and grotesque in their pursuit of the flesh.

What are your #7favfilms?

Just for fun, I asked my friends to share their #7favfilms in the horror genre. Here’s a list from my friend, Jess Hicks: “The Shining,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Hellraiser,” “Suspiria,” “Candyman,” “Creepshow,” and “The Exorcist III.” 

I asked Jess to add a little snippet of commentary (you can read more from her at Bloody Disgusting and Blumhouse, where she is regularly featured), to which she replied:

“Nightmare on Elm Street” will always be the first movie to scare the shit out of me. Pinhead is a little sexy. “Candyman” is proof the ’90s didn’t suck for horror. I will always feel bad for Shelley Duvall no matter how loud she screeches. “The Exorcist III” is the most underrated sequel of all time.

I also asked my now-husband, partner-in-life-and-crime, Dave, for his list. Here’s his Top 7: “The Evil Dead,” “Burial Ground,” “Ghoulies,” “Dolls,” “Terror Vision,” “Zombie” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

This is a list of 7 of my favorite horror movies. It is most certainly not a list of horror movies I consider to be “the best.” Nostalgia’s a powerful thing.
“The Evil Dead” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” were shown to me by my older brother sometime around 1987/1988 when I was 7 or 8. My brother’s taped VHS of “The Evil Dead” with the title hand-written in red magic marker was murky, dark and by today’s standards quite poor, but nevertheless stands as the best viewing of the movie I’ve ever had. It seemed scarier and more dangerous. We both wish that tape still existed.
Around 8 or 9 years old, I saw “Ghoulies,” “Terror Vision” and “Dolls” on “The Son of Ghoul Show” with hilarious sound effects thrown in. That VHS copy of “Ghoulies” that I taped was viewed dozens of subsequent times. I actually started recording it late so I always missed the first 5 minutes.

Want to join the fun? Share your own #7favfilms in the horror genre in the comments below. 

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that choosing just 7 was a painful process. If I could add 3 flicks and make it an even 10, I would add “Scream” (1996), “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992), and the aforementioned of “The Fly” (1986). 

4 shows to binge watch (during your maternity leave)

vintage-tv-png
Note: You might recall that I’m a mama — hence, the name of this blog. This post is a re-blog that I wrote for my friends over at The Smart Domestic. The TV recommendations are for anyone, not just those in the family way. 

You’ve purged a baby. Congrats! Now it’s time to binge on some TV while you rest and recoup on maternity leave.

I’ve put together list that has a little something for everyone – the true crime junkie, the horror fan, the drama queen and the comedy connoisseur. If you don’t like labels, but love TV, I encourage you to try them all (you don’t have to be postpartum, either).

15690771260_ce94657fda_bThe True Crime Junkie

Watch “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.”

Maybe you think you know enough about O.J. Or maybe you saw the promo and got a little weirded out by John Travolta as Robert Shapiro. Whatever the reason, if you missed this show on FX last year, you need to check it out.

Showrunner Ryan Murphy presents the trial of the century – opening with the infamous low-speed chase in that white Bronco and re-enacting all the major milestones (from Marcia Clark’s makeover to the bloody glove to the verdict).

All of that is fascinating, but it’s the acting that really draws you in – especially Sarah Paulson as Prosecutor Marcia Clark and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. Paulson and Vance are riveting as the 2 key players in the trial, on opposing sides, equally driven, maligned and misunderstood.

Already watched it? Try “The Jinx,” the HBO documentary about millionaire-murderer Robert Durst.

goth_by_bugidifino-d4w7zms
© Photography by Cathleen Tarawhiti 2007 – 2012

The Horror Fan

Watch “Penny Dreadful.”

This is near the top of my list of the most beautiful, stylized shows to have ever graced the small screen. Lead actress Eva Green is mesmerizing as Vanessa Ives, a woman haunted and scorned by Victorian society.

The show is a modern, gothic horror masterpiece (it’s like an updated version of Universal’s “House of Frankenstein” with all the classic monsters – Wolfman, Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula, among others). But it’s so much more than that – as the protagonist, Vanessa is a captivating woman who defies stereotypes.

Already watched it? Go back and re-watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I’ve watched the entire series no less than 6 times, and it never ceases to delight me.

dramaThe Drama Queen

Watch “The Americans.”

This is one of those shows that flies under the radar – not a lot of my friends watch it, and until recently, critics weren’t giving it its due. But take it from me, it’s fantastic.

The show is the story of 2 undercover KGB agents during the Cold War. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, a married team of spies with 2 kids, a house in the suburbs and a travel agency. And oh yeah, they kill people, steal secrets and subvert their neighboring FBI pal at every chance. It’s the stark contrast of their double lives, and their relationship, that drive this show. Bonus points to the soundtrack, which has some expertly placed popular tunes from the ‘80s.

Already watching it? Check out “Ray Donovan,” Showtime’s highly underrated drama about its eponymous Hollywood fixer, played by Liev Schreiber.

sunglasses-woman-girl-facelessThe Comedy Connoisseur

Watch “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

If you want to laugh a lot, watch this show. Written by Tina Fey, the jokes come so fast that you will find yourself rewinding to catch the next hilarious line before you are done guffawing at the last.

The show has a great cast – Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess, and Carol Kane just kill it. Kemper plays Kimmy, a lovable sweetheart who was recently freed from an underground bunker where she was held captive. Kimmy moves to New York, gets an apartment with the fabulous and flamboyant Titus Andromedon, and hijinks ensue.

There are also some memorable guest stars (Jon Hamm as the cult leader) and very topical and funny criticisms of society (a pill called Dyziplen for parenting problems). You’ll enjoy it.

Already watching? Check out “The League.” Full disclosure, I don’t know anything about sports – but I can appreciate good, off-color humor, and this show had plenty of that.

Here lies the VCR, a relic of my childhood

By now, you’ve probably heard that the last VHS VCR will roll off the line at Japan’s Funai Electric plant this month.

vhsIt’s the end of an era. When I was little, my mom and I used to rent movies from the library. Rows and rows of black plastic cases, with untold treasures for creepy kids — “My Pet Monster,” “The Last Unicorn,” “The Huggabunch Movie,” “Goonies.” How I loved those flicks.

Back then, we used to rent movies at Video USA, “Home of the 25 Cent Rentals.” After my parents divorced, it became a special ritual to get Chinese food and rent 3 or 4 movies with my dad on his weekends. He introduced me to so many movies — “Escape From New York,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Commando,” Tombstone,” etc.

Later, when I met my husband, we bonded over our love of movies, especially scary ones. Here’s his VCR memory from our early days.

slaughterhousevhsI was 15 and Andrea was 13 when we met. That was about 1995. VHS played a huge role in our lives. I used to go over to my friend’s house and invite her over to watch movies, on VHS of course, since DVD had not yet arrived. We would flirt back and forth, hold hands and once we even kissed (gasp!) (that was Andrea’s first kiss, I’m proud to say).

I vividly remember one such evening, when I invited her over to watch a movie. She asked what movie and I enthusiastically replied, ‘Slaughterhouse!’ Of course, she accepted, how could she resist? We watched the ’80s slasher on glorious VHS in my friend’s room and held hands the entire movie.
‘Slaughterhouse’ on VHS brings the love.

sony-slv-d271p-4-head-hifi-dvd-vcr-combo-player-vhs-recorder-w-original-remote-14375a95528393c460835e44bb632254The year before I graduated from college, Dave and I made our first joint purchase — a DVD/VCR combo unit — knowing that we would be moving in together after school. That was probably about 2003, and DVD was making all our dreams come true — Anchor Bay was putting out titles like “Burial Ground” that we thought would never see release. But we both still had huge VHS collections, so the combo unit was perfect.

It’s now taking up space in our closet, but I keep it around because we still have a few VHS tapes. And VHS is having a bit of a resurgence among genre fans, so you never know, I may find it useful in the future.

It’s easy to dismiss these memories as nostalgia. But I think there is more to it — there was a ritual associated with VCRs and VHS tapes. Families would go to the rental store together, and pick out a tape for the evening entertainment. It was a “date” for couples to rent movies. It was special.

I wanted to share some of my VCR nostalgia, so I asked some Facebook friends for their memories. Here they are — feel free to comment and leave your own too.

  • Anne Merchant: “We got our first VCR in 1984 as a ‘family’ Christmas present. It was $500 and had a wood-grain finish. The first movie we recorded was ‘Woman in Red;’ however, I used to tape ‘Headbanger’s Ball’ in the hopes that they’d show a KISS video, or better yet, Gene and Paul would be guest hosts. R.I.P., old friend!”
  • Clare LaTourette: “My favorite videotape had ‘My Little Pony’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ both recorded on it. It was my older sisters and I would get to watch it only when she wasn’t home. My family also acted out a Batman/ Robin Hood sketch when I was 2 (I was an evil witch playing the drums) and it’s only recorded on a VHS tape. I’ll be sad when I have no way of watching it.”
  • Kim Brett: “I used to love taping ‘General Hospital’ and watch it when i got home from work, LOL.”
  • Laurie Schueler: “Our first VCR had a remote control that was connected with a cord to the unit! So not very convenient! But we thought it was pretty cool at the time.”
  • Annie Sofran: “When Toby started speech therapy, he couldn’t speak but we would tape his sessions. By the time we stopped taping them four years later, he was talking like a champ. I’ve kept these tapes for obvious reasons and those are the only reasons I hold onto my VCR.”
  • Jill Morgan: “Our family VCR recorded Days of Our Lives, Monday through Friday, every week. My dad would make sure my mom “set it” before he left for work in the morning. At dinner time, we set up our TV trays and watched our soap opera as a family, dad and brother included. How would we have survived the Bo and Hope era otherwise?”

In defense of entertainment as art

old_tv_set___outside_by_its_only_stock

I was in a room full of very smart people for a recent leadership workshop on work/life balance. One of the exercises was to list 12 things you do every day, and then put a check mark next to those things that make you “your best self.”

#7 on my list was “watch TV.” I put a check mark next to it.

When it came time for the class to discuss and reflect, my check mark was met with a few judgy laughs — “You really think watching TV helps you to be your best self?” That kind of thing.

I defended my check mark — as a creative person, I tend to take my entertainment seriously. And yes, I do watch TV every day (and a few movies a week, too).

I get so tired of the old “TV rots your brain” mentality. I’m not impressed when people climb up on their moral high horse to look down at me and say “I don’t even own a television.”

We are living in a golden age of TV — any critic worth his salt will echo this sentiment. TV is no longer a reality show garbage dump or a laugh track graveyard — there’s real artistry at work there. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll trust the opinion  of David Lynch (director of “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead”) who told a French newspaper,

“Television allows you to tell a story over time, something cinema doesn’t. For me, the two formats will always exist, it’s like painting in a square or rectangular.”

The lines between entertainment and art are blurred in shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” Game of Thrones,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Stranger Things,” the list goes on and on.

The production values, writing, costuming, acting and cinematography on these shows is food for creative souls. It’s beautiful, challenging, thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating.

So yeah, I am working on my best self when I’m watching TV. Deal with it.