Music Monday: Songs from “Arthur”

As someone who grew up in 1990s North America, Arthur holds an important place in my general complex of nostalgia. I’m actually kind of shocked that it’s still on today, almost 15 years since it premiered in 1997, with Arthur Read, Buster Baxter, Francine Frensky, The Brain, et al. still in Mr. Ratburn’s class. Looking back, though, a pretty good amount of the shows don’t hold up for 19-year-old me as much as they did with, say, 7- or 8-year-old me.

One of them that does by far, though, is the musical episode, “Arthur’s Almost Live, Not Real Music Festival.” Part of the third season of 1999-2000, the episode had two songs that still resonate for me and those in my age group today: “Library Card” (which I invariably reference when talking about libraries) and “Jekyll and Hyde.”

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Thursday Trivia: Winnie-the-Pooh

As I write this, I sit close to the original site where the dolls of Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and the rest were displayed. A.A. Milne (who wrote the series for his son) donated the puppets to the publisher E.P. Dutton, who in turn donated them to the New York Public Library about 40 years later in 1988. They were first on display at the Donnell Library Center, then the largest circulating library in the NYPL system, across the street from MoMA on 53rd between 5th and 6th. Despite multiple requests from the British Parliament to return the dolls to the UK, they remained under bulletproof glass in the Donnell Building – until 2008, when they were moved 11 blocks south to the children’s room of the Library’s main branch.

Four more facts on Winnie-the-Pooh after the jump!
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Friday Stuff & Things: Fun Jeopardy! Categories

The writers for Jeopardy! are nothing if not smart, funny people. (Note to any Jeopardy! writers reading this: I’d like to join you someday. Hell, I’ve already written a couple of Jeopardy! categories back in my TrivKnowl days – including one about people named Norm or Norman, called “Social Norms,” which went over well) As a result, there have been some fun categories. I’ve rounded up four of my favorites, all via the perpetually-awesome J! Archive:

  • Dr. Seuss Meets the Bard,” with Shakespeare as written by the greatest children’s writer in history (though that’s another post)
  • Staying on the Seussian theme, “Dr. Seuss at the Multiplex,” one of the categories narrated by the late, great Don “In a World…” LaFontaine.
  • Another LaFontaine-narrated category, “Coming Soon…History,” was done in the third game of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, which featured every 5-day champion and every winner of the College or Teen Tournaments or a Tournament of Champions to that point vying for two spots in a three-day final against Ken Jennings. It lasted most of that year’s season and was freakin’ epic.
  • And finally, my personal favorite – one that was the result of a Late Show Top Ten List, “Moist Things.”
Enjoy playing, everybody!

Thursday Trivia: Carmen Sandiego

The show's main cast during the final season p...

Greg Lee, the late Lynne Thigpen, and Rockapella. I'm getting nostalgic already. (Image via Wikipedia.)

Ed. Note: Apologies for not posting the Top 5 last night – my favorite cookies are, in no particular order, chocolate chip, chocolate with macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin, Oreos, and plain ol’ sugar cookies. Also, related to blood donation – which was the tangential relation to cookies in the first place – have a go at some blood donation trivia, via the J! Archive.

Lynne Thigpen played the Chief of ACME (always capitalized, though it was never explicitly established as an acronym) across much of the franchise’s history – for a non-hosting role on a children’s game show, it was one hell of an interesting career role. Along with portraying the Chief on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, its successor Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, and three Carmen video games, she appeared as a member of judicial matters rather than investigative ones more often in her career: she appeared in 10 episodes as District Attorney Ruby Thomas on LA Law, and was a judge on Law & Order three times.

Four more facts about Carmen Sandiego after the jump, but first…

Do It Rockapella!

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Stuff I Dislike: “Shippers”

I know the whole concept of wanting two fictional characters to start messin’ around with each other has been around for a while (probably since the days of when soap operas were on radio), but it’s really only been since I’ve become a member of communities of those who enjoy certain works of fiction (Harry Potter, Star Trek, &c.) that it’s really come to annoy me.

The main crux of my issue with it is this: those who are “shippers” completely miss the point of the canon and the characterization. They forego enjoyment of the emotional, yet not romantic, bonds (or, in some cases, forego acknowledgment of a lack of emotional bonds entirely) between the characters in order to fulfill some infantile urge to see them go and date and stuff. For example, all of the Harry/Hermione shippers (hell, those in the Ron/Hermione camp as well before Rowling made that part of canon) pretty much gave up looking at our three heroes from Gryffindor House as having an incredibly strong friendship, constantly growing in the face of greater and greater danger, so that instead a couple of them could make kissy-faces at each other. (Also, yes I said kissy-faces and I stand by its use!) The only thing that’s worse in the HP world are “Dramione” shippers (tangentially related – can we just stop making portmanteaus for couples? That’s really gotten on my nerves), who seem to be Team Edward/Team Jacob rejects with an IQ slightly higher than some Twilight readers (honestly, people? How can you possibly come to the conclusion that calling Hermione anti-Muggle slurs is some sign that he secretly pines for her? Like, what the hell?).

This post has gotten far too nerdy, even for this blog, so I suggest you head over to Tumblr for this type of stuff. I’ll see you all tomorrow for the Top 5. In the meantime, enjoy my cover of M. Ward:

Top 5: Most Important Game Show Hosts

(Ed. Note: This is the second part of a three-part Top 5 series on game shows. Last week, I covered the Top 5 game show themes, and next week, I’ll talk about the Top 5 most important game shows of all time.)

A game show’s success is, in my view, based on three main criteria: (1) the skill in creating the format for the show; (2) excellent contestants; and (3) a game show host that ties everything together. While they aren’t the most important part of the show, game show hosts become the show’s public face and leave their mark on culture in conjunction with the show. (Maybe that’s why I wanted to be a game show host as a kid.) Here are, in my view, the Top 5 most important (American) hosts of all time:

5. Bob Barker (active 1956-2007; best known for Truth or Consequences and The Price is Right)

Let’s be honest here: even though Bob Barker hosted Truth or Consequences for almost 20 years, no one remembers him for that. They remember him for The Price is Right. They remember him for being the dapper, distinguished old man who hosted the show gracefully for 35 years before handing over the reins to Drew Carey. They remember him for “helping to control the pet population” and refusing to have animal-based products on the show (hence a lot of cream of mushroom soup in the Bag Game). They remember him for both letting his hair go gray and still looking like he could kick some rear (as he did in Happy Gilmore). And they’ll probably continue to remember him for generations for these things, due to his supreme longevity.

4. Wink Martindale (active 1972-1998, 2010; best known for Gambit and Tic-Tac-Dough)

I don’t know if a lot of people of my generation know who Wink Martindale is, but the man just looks like a game show host. I mean, just look at him!

And that’s him in 2010, when he was called out of retirement to host the GSN show Instant Recall, his 15th show hosted (behind only Bill Cullen at 23 for the record). Wink Martindale isn’t just a quality game show host; he sets the archetype.

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Required Listenings Top 5: Favorite Game Show Themes

(Ed. Note: This is both the first of a 3-part series on game shows that will continue Wednesday with my Top 5 Favorite Game Show Hosts and conclude next Wednesday with the Top 5 Most Important Game Shows of All Time, and what I think is the 7 billionth post I’ve done on the topic of TV theme songs.)

As always with these posts, we begin with the standard introduction:

As a fervent viewer of television, one thing  I love to discuss is the TV theme songs. A great show can be made better (or sometimes worse) because of a great theme. This is still true with theme music for game shows – which may have an even more indelible mark than themes from scripted television. It can not only set the tone for that show, it can also be an exemplar for the genre. Here are my 5 favorites:

5. Pyramid (composed by Bob Cobert)

It’s not a terribly well-known theme, but it gets the job done – it’s clean, and somewhat regal, much like Dick Clark himself. (Oh, and here it is on piano.)


4. Match Game (composed by Bob Israel)


Every time I hear this one I think of Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly and, oddly enough, Gene Rayburn dancing goofily. That last one I can’t explain. (And here this one is on piano.)


3. Card Sharks (composed by Edd Kalehoff)


Kind of the “wild card” of this Top 5 (pun definitely intended), I’m not sure why I like it so much. I only got into watching Card Sharks, much like Match Game, in the late-morning block of shows on the Game Show Network a few summers ago. I think it’s the clapping in the background at the beginning.


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Thursday Trivia (on Friday!): James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones at the Governor's Ball after ...

James Earl Jones is awestruck at his own awesomeness and downright shocked to be covered on Thursday Trivia. (Image via Wikipedia.)

While James Earl Jones has been in the theater for over 50 years (he’s won two Tonys and earned the Kennedy Center Honors for his work), what may be his most memorable role in the public eye went uncredited for 20 years. When he did the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars: A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back – a move deemed necessary due to David Prowse’s accent – he requested that he be uncredited; when Return of the Jedi came around, basically everyone knew that Jones was responsible for the voice, and was credited for that film. By the 1997 re-release of the first two films, Jones was credited for the voice of Vader, too.

Four more facts about James Earl Jones after the jump!

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