Yes, somehow, we are related

Kate Gosselin guests on Sarah Palin’s Alaska: Kirkland Hamill has the recap.

“I’m standing in the ‘not rain,’ that’s what I’m doing.”

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Meanwhile, Sarah is becoming perkier the more Kate comes unglued. It has grown increasingly apparent as the show has progressed that her appreciation for Alaska is based partly on how miserable it makes non-Alaskans.


The last time I was in a museum bookstore, I noticed a DVD series called Art:21. This turned out to be a suite of documentaries on practitioners active in the first decade of this century, some of them mature artists like Richard Serra and James Turrell, others in mid-career like Sally Mann, still others that are rising talents and less well-known. It’s been running on PBS stations for a while, but I flat missed it, since I rarely watch broadcast. So I took a break from the line of Perry Mason episodes I’ve been going through and added the discs to my Netflix queue.

The films are selective and to the point. Each hour-long episode deals with four artists, about ten to fifteen minutes apiece. With a few exceptions, there are no voiceovers or interviewer questions: the films (carefully edited) allow the artists to tell their stories in their own words. Title cards superimposed on images of the work provide dates and a bit of context. Each episode carries a thematic title (“place,” “spirituality,” “identity, “consumption” from the first season), but the connection of each artist’s work to the theme is sometimes tenuous. Each episode is introduced by a framing segment, of highly variable quality; Laurie Anderson does a fine job introducing the series premiere, but a collaboration between Steve Martin and William Wegman is fluff.

What I find especially encouraging about the project is its selectivity—the refusal by the producers (Executive Director Susan Sollins and her staff) to pump out material just for the sake of making product. Each season consists of only four hours of programming, and the seasons are produced every other year. So, after eight years, we have sixteen hours of film covering 60-odd artists. I’m looking forward to watching it all.

I knew her when

60s spandex stunner Yvonne Craig—Batgirl, alter ego of Barbara Gordon, daughter to Police Commissioner Gordon—played by Neil Hamilton: Craig and Hamilton appeared as father and stepdaughter in a 1958 episode of Perry Mason titled “The Case of the Lazy Lover.” And according to the IMDB, while Hamiliton played seven different roles in Perry Mason eps across eight seasons, Craig played five characters (Linda Sue, Aphrodite, Myrna, Hazel, and Elspeth) in six installments of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis across four seasons.

The other way of stopping

OMG, the fourth episode of “Mad Men” opens with three ad execs listening to an LP of Bob Newhart’s “Driving Instructor” routine! There’s also a passing reference to a TV series that I loved in my childhood, a Walter Brennan vehicle called “The Real McCoys,” and a lovely cameo by Robert Morse (resonant with what’s going on in Pete Campbell’s career). Excellent work!

Upcoming: 2

Turner Classic Movies has two really interesting themes for June: films featuring or directed by the sultry Ida Lupino, and Screened Out: Gay Images in Film. Some of the titles, like The Killing of Sister George and The Boys in the Band, I recognize as causing a stir at of the 1970s. They are largely forgotten now, but I remember them as being judged too mature for my adolescent sensibilities at the time.

Charlotte Church meets Enya meets Sarah Brightman

One more reason to read a book, a really long one, during pledge week: Claire Dederer explores the phenomenon that is Celtic Woman:

[Their popularity] may have something to do with the fact that they are Irish. Ireland is a country that does a lot of psychological heavy lifting for Americans. We’ve imbued the place with mysticism, greenness, quietude and rootedness. Milky-skinned maidens, singing beautiful music in front of a wall of ivy. It’s the very vision of what we want Ireland to be. Or at least what PBS viewers want Ireland to be.

It’s dandy for your teeth

Dr. Reilling was my first dentist. Now I understand why his advice to me was always “brush-a-brush-a-brush-a.” It’s part of the song that Bucky Beaver sang to promote Ipana toothpaste. (Yes, Dr. Reilling was even older than me; I think Ipana was out of the market even then.) See a sampler of things for an image of Bucky and a link to an audio file (admittedly scratchy) of Bucky jingling.