Monday, August 26, 2013

Television And Me



It was brought to my attention recently (by process of self-observation) that I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in an easy chair and watching television programs. (Inordinate is an adjective meaning: Exceeding reasonable limits; immoderate: excessive; not regulated; disorderly.)

This curious past-time, requiring little effort, seems to have become a pleasant habit with me. And very few of the shows I watch are new ones; most of them are re-runs, such as:

 M*A*S*H (the series that ran from 1972 to 1983)

House M.D.

The Big Bang Theory

Two and-a-half Men
(with Charley Sheen)
(I dislike Ashton Kutcher intensely)

And, of course

I was told a while back that viewing old shows such as those described above is an indicator of advanced age, is a great waste of time, and that I could better be using those intervals to compose stories and engage in other writerly pursuits. That's probably true. But established habits can be difficult to break. Especially enjoyable ones. Replacing a bad habit with a good one is the best way to go about it, or so I have been told.

Perhaps I'll give it a try.


The first pitched ball death occurred August 17, 1920 when Ray Chapman was hit on the head by a Carl Mays pitch the day before.


On this day, August 26 in 1939 (the year in which I was born) the first televised Major League baseball game was broadcast on station W2XBS, the station that was to become WNBC-TV. Announcer Red Barber called the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York.

At the time, television was still in its infancy. Regular programming did not yet exist, and very few people owned television sets -- there were only about 400 in the New York area. Not until 1946 did regular network broadcasting catch on in the United States, and only in the mid-1950s did television sets become more common in the American household.

(I was 15 years old in 1954 when I saw my first TV set and viewed my first TV program: Howdy Doody)


1. To transmit (a radio or television program) for public or general use.
2. To send out or communicate, especially by radio or television.
3. To make known over a wide area.
4. To sow (seed) over a wide area, especially by hand.

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio or visual mass communications medium, but usually one using electromagnetic radiation (radio waves). The receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset thereof. Broadcasting has been used for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication such as amateur (ham) radio and amateur television (ATV) in addition to commercial purposes like popular radio or TV stations with advertisements.


(Aug 26, 1910 - 5 Sep 1997)
Mother Teresa was an Albanian born, Indian Roman Catholic Religious Sister. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; children's and family counseling programs; orphanages; and schools.

Admired and respected by many, she has also been accused of failing to provide medical care or painkillers, misusing charitable money, and maintaining positive relationships with dictators.

(born August 26, 1980)
Macaulay Culkin is an American actor. He became widely known for his portrayal of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He is also known for his roles in Richie Rich, Uncle Buck, My Girl, The Pagemaster, and Party Monster, as well as Michael Jackson's music video "Black or White". At the height of his fame, he was regarded as the most successful child actor since Shirley Temple.

(Aug 26, 1935 - Mar 26, 2011)
Geraldine Ferraro was an American attorney, a Democratic Party politician, and a member of the United States House of Representatives. She was the first female vice presidential candidate representing a major American political party.

(born August 26,1942)
John Blaha accomplished an important yet seldom remarked first. He was the first astronaut to directly follow a previous U.S. Mir resident. He thus forged the first link in a six-flight, two-and-a-half-year chain of Shuttle-Mir missions.

Before, during, and after his mission, Blaha worked to make sure all future missions would go as smoothly as possible. This included improving the "handover" from one increment to the next and working on communications -- between Mir and the visiting Space Shuttles, between the NASA astronaut and the ground, and between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the International Space Station Program.


When television is good, nothing -- not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers -- nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
--Newton N. Minow

Newton Norman Minow is a former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. His speech referring to television as a "vast wasteland" is cited even as the speech has passed its 50th anniversary.



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