The 2009/10 TV Season So Far

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CBS is the big dog of the major TV least until American Idol kicks off
Looking at the TV season to date, 13 of the top 20 shows of the 2009/10 season are on CBS.

Four of the top ten TV shows are CBS dramas: NCIS (America's favorite program with over 20 million viewers each week), The Mentalist, NCIS LA and CSI.

The news isn't all good at CBS
Three Rivers was an early cancellation and several other shows -- Cold Case, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried and Accidentally on Purpose -- may be on shaky ground.

Even The Good Wife, which would be a sure-fire hit on any other network faces an uncertain future on the high-powered CBS.

good wife

Dancing with the Stars
America's third most popular program is ABC's top rated show -- Dancing With The Stars. (The DWTS results show is seventh in season-to-date rankings.)

The network has two dramas in the top ten -- Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. The last season of Lost -- kicking off after the first of the year -- should bolster the network.

Hank Yanked
One ABC show, the embarrassing Hank, is already gone. Several others -- Ugly Betty, Better Off Ted, Eastwick, the forgotten and Scrubs may soon be on the chopping block.

House rules
House, ranked 12th in overall popularity, is currently the only Fox program in the top 20 but Simon Cowell & Company will change all that in a couple of weeks.

Brothers struggling
Fox has several shows that may be on life support. Til Death and Dollhouse are struggling.

Also, Brothers, the Fox sitcom that we find refreshing and funny, may be on borrowed time.

Nothing to brag about
If it weren't for Sunday Night Football, NBC would have no shows in the top 20. That's right. Zero.

And the regular football season will be history come January.

Medical malpractice
Two of the dramas that NBC was banking its revival on -- Mercy and Trauma -- may soon be DOA.

But anemic ratings are only part of NBC's uncertain future. Some have suggested that the recent acquisition by Comcast may be the beginning of end of NBC.

Is that possible? Will NBC follow in the footsteps of the WB and UPN?


TV Western Themes: Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

The Lone Ranger
For many Baby Boomers, The Lone Ranger wasn't just a western, it was the western.

The Rawhide theme is perhaps the most iconic of all TV westerns. The lyrics don't really refer to the show itself so much as they do to the life of a cattle wrangler at the time.

Some people think the Blues Brothers' cover is pretty good.

After his successful run on The Rifleman, Chuck Connors returned to television as Jason McCord, an officer booted out of the army on charges of cowardice.

The intro, probably the best part of the series, depicts McCord's cashiering.

Bat Masterson
This theme seemed longer, and probably more interesting, than the show it described.

The Rebel
Despite the fact that the Confederate side of the US Civil War wasn't terribly popular in the 1950's, this series was a moderate hit at the time.

The theme song was performed by Johnny Cash.

The Wild, Wild West
Calling this show a western is a bit of a stretch. It was actually developed to capitalize on the 1960's spy craze. The lead character, James West, was a secret agent in the 1800's who had more gadgets than James Bond.

Though the TV series was popular, the 1999 cinema version, starring Will Smith, was no hit at the box office.

Jim Bowie
Because the rule was that every person who died at the Alamo had to have his own TV show, this program hit the airwaves for a short time.

Jim Bowie wasn't exactly as popular as his Alamo amigo Davy Crockett, though.

Clint Walker, who looked to be about 8 feet tall, starred in this series which has to have had the saddest theme of all TV westerns.

Why Can't All Business Presentations Be Like This?

Clutch Cargo: You Call This a Cartoon?

clutch cargo

Who would have guessed this cartoon would become a hit?

Who would have thought this was even a cartoon?

Calling Clutch Cargo animation is a stretch. This kid's series, launched in March 1959, was basically a static storyboard with a human mouth.

Even South Park is more life-like than this.

Airplane pilot-Clutch and his pal Spinner and dog Paddlefoot travelled the world in search of adventure in one stagnant episode after another.

The shall-we-say unique nature of style of Clutch Cargo has made it an easy target for spoofing.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The End of Radio's Golden Age

The Golden Age of Radio died on September 30, 1962
Commercial radio was born on November 2, 1920. Several months before, amateur radio operator Dr. Frank Conrad was approached by leading radio manufacturer, Westinghouse, with the idea of setting up a radio transmitting operation in Pittsburgh that would later become KDKA.

On November 2, KDKA broadcast the news that Warren G. Harding had won the race against James Cox for the US presidency.

The birth of the radio spot
Two years later, a New York real estate developer paid to advertise his services on the radio. The new medium had found its revenue stream.

The world's four decade long love affair with radio
For the next 42 years, the world enjoyed a passionate love affair with radio. Families huddled in darkened living rooms listening to drama, comedy and news with only their imaginations to fill the spaces between the spoken words and static.

All that came to an end the evening of September 30, 1962. The world had been lured away from radio by a younger, more exciting lover. Those darkened living rooms were now lit with the cathode-ray flickering of television.

Johnny Dollar
On the night of September 30, those few people still listening to radio heard The Tip-Off Matter, the final installment of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, a radio series with a 13 year run.

The Bogart-like lead character was Johnny Dollar, a freelance insurance investigator with an action-packed expense account.

Most episodes began with Johnny taking a phone call requesting him to investigate a high profile insurance claim. After a few moments of hesitation, Johnny, imagining the beautiful women in the exotic locale he was beckoned to, would agree to take the assignment.

Johnny's expense account was the spine of the adventure as he chronicled the cost of cab rides and booze to ply necessary information from the crimson lips of some femme fatale.

Over the course of the series run, eight actors played the role but most old-time-radio fans agree that Bob Bailey was to Johnny Dollar what Sean Connery was to James Bond.

Something in Bailey's voice and the way he portrayed the cool demeanor of Johnny Dollar made the character his alone.

As good as Bailey was, he didn't make it to the end of the run. When production of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar moved from California to New York in 1960, Bailey decided to stay where he was.

Two years later, with Mandel Kramer in the title role, Johnny Dollar completed his final investigation.

By the end of that evening, commercial radio, as listeners had known it for over 40 years, ceased to exist. After September 30, 1962, dramas, comedies, variety programs and quiz shows faded from the airwaves.

The medium became the home of Top 40 music, 24-hour news and controversial talk.

Radio lived on but its Golden Age was over.

You can listen to nearly 500 installments of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar on the excellent old time radio site:

Reverse Speech: Satanic or Sham?

regan demon

There's no argument that reverse speech is one of the creepiest sounds ever.

There was that frightening scene in William Friedkin's The Exorcist when the Jesuit priest hears the demonic utterances of the young possessed girl emerge while playing a tape recording of her voice in reverse.

That's fine for a horror movie, but is there any truth in it? Is reverse speech the secret language of great beyond?

David John Oates

David John Oates is convinced there's something there.

He's one of the most leading proponents of the validity of reverse speech as a doorway to the subconscious. He calls it the seventh sense that offers a portal into an unknown world of the mind.

To him, the unconscious reverse-speaking part of the brain is beyond our ability to subvert or compromise. To Oates, the reverse voice speaks only the truth.


We've looked at his evidence and we're just not convinced. It seems to us that the reverse vocalizations are just gibberish until Oates tells us what they mean. And even then it's a stretch to make any real sense out of any of this.

Listen for yourself.

Clicking on any of the reverse speech quotes below will open a new window that will allow you to play a QuickTime audio. Come back to the Apocalypzia window to continue here.

Hillary Clinton

"I surely would fit in."


"Innocent! Innocent!"

"I'm not telling."

david john oates

Perhaps the clearest example of reverse speech, interestingly, is provided by David John Oates himself, who claims that he just happened to be tape recording himself when his house caught on fire. Hmmm...

The house is on fire!

Even Art Bell isn't buying this

art bell

It's one thing that we don't see anything in this reverse speech gibberish but even Art Bell, original host of the all-night paranormal all-things-wacky radio show -- Coast-to-Coast, has problems with Oates and the two have a history of acrimonious litigation.

So what's your take on reverse speech? Satanic or sham?

Somewhat Ironic TV Commercial Spokespersons

William Shatner gets over his fear of flying

Before Star Trek, William Shatner was jetliner passenger and TSA-headache Robert Wilson in the classic Twilight Zone episode,
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

No longer afraid of flying coach, Shatner today busts moves for Priceline for big bucks.

The Six Million Dollar Man gets a hearing aid

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. We can make him better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

Sticking to the bionic theme, Lee Majors now promotes his own brand of hearing aids.

Mr. T goes from cinema tough guy to commercial funny man

When Mr. T started pitying poor fools he was a pretty scary character ready to give Rocky Balboa the fight of his life in Rocky III.

But Mr. T has successfully reinvented himself as a faux tough guy selling candy bars...

and videogames:

She Didn't Have One of These in the Little House on the Prairie

Charles and Caroline Ingalls eked out a meager life on the harsh, unforgiving prairies of Minnesota. Karen Grassle, who played the stoic and heroic Caroline, is today the TV spokesperson for Premier Walk-In Bathtubs.

1968: 13 Events Change History and Shape the Future

Chicago riots

The bloody death of the 60's Peace-and-Love Movement

In 1968, lightning flashed and thunder rolled.
The nation was at war with the world and at war with itself. It was a year of blood and anger.

The national debate over Viet Nam raged, as Hawks and Doves squared off on college campuses, in the streets and across dinner tables.

And right here at home, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were killed within two months of each other.

And who would have thought, in centuries past, that in the year that humans first travelled to the Moon, the news of that achievement would be an almost forgotten footnote for the year.

January Viet Nam and North Korea

1 - Eartha Kitt denounces the Viet Nam War in the White House
Actress-singer Eartha Kitt reduced First Lady Lady Bird Johnson to tears when, during a White House Luncheon concerning street crime, she declared angrily that the Viet Nam War was the underlying cause of rebellion and rioting in US cities.

The response? Eartha Kitt was consequently investigated by several US government agencies and declared in a CIA report to be a sadistic nymphomaniac.

eartha kitt

2 - The Battle of Khe Sahn begins and is fought until April
The battled raged for 77 days in the Quang Tri Province in Viet Nam. Over 700 US troops were killed over the course of a battle that was considered a military victory but one of no strategic importance.

3 - North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo
Viet Nam wasn't the only military hotspot in 1968.

4 - The Tet Offensive begins
The Tet Offensive was a major and coordinated attack by Communist forces on allied troops across 100 Viet Nam towns and villages.

This military operation helped to make 1968 the deadliest year in the war, during which 16,59 US soldiers were killed.

February Atrocities of war

5 - The televised execution of a Viet Cong soldier
A South Vietnamese Army officer, acting as judge-and-jury, executed a Viet Cong soldier on the streets of Saigon. This iconic photo by Eddie Adams captured the murder and helped to tilt the national mindset about the war.

March The My Lai Massacre

6 - The atrocities at Abu Ghraib are pale in comparison to Viet Nam's My Lai Massacre.

7 - Unrest over Viet Nam puts an end to President Lyndon Johnson's plans for re-election

April The Assassination of Martin Luther King

8 - Martin Luther King is gunned down on a motel balcony in Memphis TN
The shooting sparks a wave of riots throughout the nation.

June The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

9 - Senator Robert F. Kennedy is shot to death during his victory celebration after the California Democratic Primary.

rfk shooting

August The Democratic Convention

10 - TV images of the riots surrounding Democratic Convention are broadcast around the world
CBS News anchor, Walter Cronkite calls Chicago a police state.

The Olympics and the Civil Rights Movement collide

11 - The Black Power salute at the Olympiad in Mexico City causes an uproar.

November A Change in the White House

12 - Nixon wins the presidency with a secret plan to end the war
A nation weary of war hands Richard Nixon a narrow victory over Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election. Third party candidate George Wallace received 14% of vote.

The legendary news team, Huntley-Brinkley report the close popular vote results of the election.

December The Space Race

13 - Three men orbit the Moon
After 12 months of war, violence and assassination, the year ended with one of humankind's greatest achievements when, on Christmas eve, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders became the first people to orbit the moon.

They marked the occasion and the holiday by broadcasting back to Earth a heart-felt reading of passages from the Bible's Genesis.

Fiomily (Emily and Fiona) Encore

You know them, you love them, so we brought them back.
We told you all about these talented sisters in a previous post that included a number of video clips. Most of the clips in this post are more recent so you'll notice that Emily and Fiona look a little older here and have improved their already impressive skills.

You'll also notice that they're electrified, drummified, mic'ed, multi-tracked and sounding better than ever.

Creeque Alley
Emily and Fiona take on this musical autobiography by the Mamas and the Papas.

Mr. Bright Side
Emily and Fiona cover the Killers. Fine work here.

Misery Business
With help from Christian on drums, Emily and Fiona cover Paramore.

Needle and Spoon
Emily shows off her versatility here playing lead, rhythm and bass guitar while Fiona exhibits maturity beyond her young years, handling some serious lyrics.

We're closing out this set with a little vintage Fiomily from their Beatles repertoire.

We like this particular clip because we get a rare smile from Fiona and a cute grimace from Emily when she doesn't exactly hit the guitar note that she hoped for.

Take our word for it, this is a challenging guitar piece to play. We're still trying to master it.

Emily and Fiona Sing the Beatles

emily fiona

Best of the Beatles


Brann the Iconoclast: A Guy You Didn't Want To Mess With


i-con-o-clast: n. One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions.

William Cowper Brann 1855 - 1898
Someone you didn't want to tangle with wielding words or weapons.

William Cowper Brann was the editor of the Iconoclast newspaper in the late nineteenth century. Brann's rapier wit could quickly cut you to shreds. Listen to how he described the New York social scene in 1897:

"Mrs. Bradley-Martin's sartorial kings and pseudo-queens have strutted their brief hour on the stage, disappearing at daybreak like foul night-birds or an unclean dream -- have come and gone like the rank eructation of some crapulous Sodom ... a breath blown from the festering lips of half-forgotten harlots ..."


"I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough."

Brann didn't pull any punches. And he didn't care who he was swinging at. In fact, it was his criticism of the Waco-based Baptist institution Baylor University that eventually killed him.

Brann reported that Baylor officials were kidnapping, enslaving and fornicating with South American children. Brann described Baylor as:

"A factory for the manufacture of ministers and magdalenes."

Tom Davis, a Baylor supporter with a daughter at the university, took offense to Brann's comments, especially the magdalenes part with its fallen women connotation.

Showdown on the Streets of Waco
One night In 1898, Davis waited in the shadows for Brann to walk down Fourth Street in downtown Waco. As the Iconoclast walked by Davis fired one shot into Brann's back.

Brann spun around, drew his Colt revolver and fired several shots into his surprised assailant. Davis dropped to the ground and Brann continued to fire. When the smoke cleared, Tom Davis was dead.

Brann walked away from the scene but died of his gunshot wound the next morning.

Brann wasn't the nicest guy in the world but he seemed to have a mind of his own and knew how to stand his ground.

Maybe we need more iconoclasts these days.