“Pete Rose” artwork © Copyright 1986 by Zengael. Shown here by permission of the artist.
Fall is upon us, and believe it or not, there are a good number of us who couldn’t care less about football. For us, it’s all about the leaves changing color – and, of course, the Major League Baseball playoffs. This year is especially exciting for us here at Gatewood because several of us are long-time Mets fans, and they’ve made the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Mind you, they haven’t won the World Series since 1986, so no one’s holding their breath or anything – but still, it makes the heart beat a little faster, puts a bit of bounce in the step, and makes some of us positively giddy. Baseball has a way of doing that to the people who love it.
We showed you Zengael’s fine rendering of Tom Seaver earlier this summer, and since the Mets clinched their division by winning in Cincinnati, we thought it might be a good time to share this one with you. No matter what your opinion on Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement, he was still an integral part of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” and one of the greatest players ever. Here’s Zengael’s chalk drawing of the man who once said he’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.
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10 Reasons You Should Watch Blindspot
by Johanna Rigby
While I swore I never wanted to write about TV again, or at least for a very long time, the Fall Season has come around with its grab-bag full of new shows. While most will be crap, I’m actually seeing a few that I think will be worth watching, so I may relent and share those with you when I find them. Blindspot is one such show.
I also feel the need to do this because most other people who write about TV seem to do so with an eye toward ratings and the entertainment industry, which is just not my thing. I don’t watch TV just to watch TV. I need something more from it (otherwise I’d be spending my time reading), and that’s why Gatewood runs these pieces. I believe that despite its most prevalent use as entertaining pap for the mindless masses, TV – like film – is capable of being artistic and thought-provoking.
The fact that networks will only give us high-quality shows if ratings are at a level they consider high enough shouldn’t make us despair; those levels vary greatly from one network to another, and networks’ requirements for “success” are arbitrary and capriciously subject to change. However, one thing remains constant: if no one watches it, they’ll replace it with something else. This is why I feel the need to let you know when something of quality turns up on my TV-radar.
Now, back to why you should watch Blindspot. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of the show, here’s the concept: a naked woman with amnesia is found in Times Square with her body covered in intricate tattoos. (If the phrase “naked amnesiac tattooed woman” isn’t sufficient to pique your attention, let me add “incredibly hot” to that.) The most prominent tattoo on her back is the name of an FBI agent, which, of course, gets the ball rolling, as they begin to analyze her tattoos and Jane Doe begins to rediscover her identity. So we’re talking about complex psychological issues plus enough standard crime-show procedural drama to allow the less discerning audience to feel comfortable.
“But I’ve got crosswords to do, dogs to walk, New Yorkers to read!” I hear you saying. “Why should I take an hour of my evening to watch a woman with amnesia tag along while dour FBI agents crash around chasing bad guys?”
I’m glad you asked. Here’s why:
1. Contrary to what many TV reviewers seemed to feel, Jane Doe does not come across as flat or without personality. That would certainly be a possibility with a lesser actress, but Jaimie Alexander does a fantastic job with bringing a fascinating character to life. Think Trinity from The Matrix trilogy meets Charly Baltimore from The Long Kiss Goodnight.
2. Amnesia is fascinating to those of us who don’t have it. We tend to romanticize it somewhat: a chance to start over, a new beginning, etc. But for anyone who looks at things from a neurological or psychological perspective, this is like catnip to kittens.
3. We need to let the networks know when they’ve done something worthy of our appreciation. NBC gave us The Blacklist, and that went well enough for them to take a chance on something like Blindspot rather than more of the same old mind-numbing lackluster crap. The best way to encourage them to give us more quality programming is by watching the good stuff so it gets the highest possible ratings. (Remember what happened with poor Kyle Killen’s excellent Awake when people thought it was too complicated for their little brains to enjoy?)
4. Some of you may enjoy Sullivan Stapleton as the aforementioned dour FBI agent. I found his character flat, but possibly that’s just an artistic pilot-episode choice in order to give room for us to get to know Jane Doe first. I’m willing to cut some slack on this because character development in pilot episodes is extremely difficult. It really is hard to do much more than scratch the surface in the first episode of a show. (For a classic example, look back at the first episode of Big Bang Theory and compare Season 1 Leonard to the Leonard of any recent episode.)
5. The procedural framework is balanced well against the amnesia/tattoo-map concept. These are two intertwining threads, each story moving the other forward. Neither takes over the show.
6. Marianne Jean-Baptiste is always a treat to watch, and her character here is no exception. She’s capable of showing highly complex situations with minimal screen time, and does so beautifully in the pilot. I certainly hope we see more of her during the series. I also hope the writers will allow her to continue to be more than a stock character of harried-supervisor-trying-to-rein-in-her-loose-cannon-agent.
7. The doctor actually sounds like a real human-being doctor. It would be easy to make up credible-sounding-but-inherently-flawed theories for him to expound upon, just to further the plot. And there may be some fast-and-loose “facts” created for him to utilize in his explanations, but it comes across as reasonable, plausible, and not unlike things your own doctor might say if insurance company constraints weren’t a factor.
8. The supporting cast is unobtrusive and mostly believable. Again, character development in a pilot episode is difficult – supporting characters especially so. There may not be much more to them than we already have, and that’s OK. I do think their resident tech geek is questionable, but that may because she just doesn’t seem quirky enough (yet) to be a tech geek. Again, these are supporting characters. It’s not a big deal if they never develop much more than this, provided the main characters can continue to pull off the story as brilliantly as they are so far.
9. We need to give the networks a reason to show us something besides “reality” programming. You’re probably not reading Gatewood if you watch a lot of “reality” TV, but if you’ve somehow stumbled here and truly believe that what you’re seeing on those shows is real, then I need to fix you up with my Nigerian half-brother who’s a professional wrestler.
10. Somewhat related to #3 and #9, when a network steps out of their comfort zone and goes against their typical programming to give us something amazing (I’m looking at you, USA Network, with that fantastic gem of a show Mr. Robot), we need to do whatever we can to support it if we want to keep it. Watch it, tell your friends, tweet it, announce to anyone who’ll listen that you’ve found something worth watching that has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss, singing lessons, or people making big fools of themselves just to be famous for being famous.
So there you have it. I’m definitely watching the next episode. If you missed the pilot, you can catch it on the NBC website here, where you can also read more about the show, characters, cast, etc. Blindspot airs on NBC, Mondays at 10:00 p.m.
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100% Pure Genuine Government B.S.!
by Erin Abernethy
[Editor’s note: Back in the early years of the 21st century, when George W. Bush was occupying the White House, Erin Abernethy kept a blog called “Brimstone Bites,” which consisted of equal parts political snark, overheard conversations, and general silliness. The blog was put on hold when she enrolled in her Advanced Statistical Analysis class, and it was taken down when a hacker turned it into some sort of bizarre real estate phishing scheme. However, some of her original posts were recovered, and we thought you’d enjoy seeing a few of them from time to time. Here’s a series that dates back to the days of the spinach contamination scare of September, 2006. – R.C.]
Need to Bury a Body Fast? Well, Too Bad.
And you know how long it takes to get a committee to agree on anything….
flea (‘flE) n. a small wingless bloodsucking insect
The government and most civil service agencies love acronyms. We’ve got the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, the DHS, the NSA, and you’ll need your ID and SSN or at least a PIN pretty much anywhere you go.
Considering all that, I find it interesting to note that in press releases and news stories, no one ever uses an acronym to abbreviate one of the lengthiest and most common phrases we hear today:
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
Exercise Leads to Weight Gain. Don’t Let Those Infomercials Fool You.
Overheard between a sporting goods associate and a very hefty guy shopping @ a local Wal-Mart:
Assoc.: So can I interest you in one of these exercise bikes today?
Hefty: Nope, I just need some fishing line.
Assoc.: Didn’t your wife say the doctor told you to lose some weight?
Hefty: Yep, that’s what she said.
Assoc.: You oughta get yourself one of them weight machines, start workin’ out.
Hefty: Nope, don’t think so.
Assoc.: Well, you ain’t gonna lose no weight fishin’, I can tell you that right now.
Hefty: No, but I can’t start workin’ out, because muscle weighs more than fat, see? I start workin’ out, next thing you know, I’m gainin’ weight. I can’t be buffin’ up an’ puttin’ on muscle if I’m supposed to lose weight. They don’t tell you that on them infomercials, that muscle weighs more than fat. They don’t want you to know that. They’re tryin’ to sell machines, see. How many you reckon they’d sell if they told everybody muscle weighs more than fat?
Drug Companies Are Evil.
Oh, you want proof? Fine.
Now you know. But hey, don’t let that ruin your buzz.
“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
“The great error of nearly all studies of war… has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics…”
100% Pure Genuine Plastic!
Does the word “luxurious” really belong in a description of a shower curtain?
For that matter, should the words “luxurious” and “vinyl” ever be allowed next to each other?
Bad Spinach: Christian Cow-Eating Government Plot?
I almost hesitated to post this one because I was sure no one would believe what I overheard some big bubba-boy in coveralls saying this morning in a local grocery store:
“You know, that spinach thing, it’s a government deal. Y’all remember how they used AIDS to try and get rid of the homos? See, they’re usin’ this e-co-lie spinach to get the vegetarians. Them vegans, you know, they’re the ones always causin’ trouble, wantin’ to save the owls and keep the ten commandments out of schools and all that kinda stuff. That’s why the government ain’t gettin’ in no hurry to figger out this spinach thing. They’re hopin’ the vegans’ll starve to death and then we can get on with business.”
© Copyright 2006 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2015.
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Bipolar? You Could Help a Writer.
As you may have noticed over the years, we’re very friendly to writers and artists, and we’re also very supportive of mental health issues. There’s a lot of overlap between those areas. That’s why we’d like to urge you to help out a freelance writer who’s researching for an article on bipolar disorder.
Robin Flanigan is working on an article for BP magazine, and she needs people to volunteer to be interviewed. Here are the qualifications she needs you to have:
- You have bipolar disorder
- You are over age 50
- You live in the U.S. or Canada
That’s it. If this describes you, and you’d like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch by September 17. You can also find her on Twitter at @thekineticpen. If you want to check out some of her work, her website is The Kinetic Pen.
Also, we’d appreciate it if you’d help spread the word for her, so even if you can’t participate, you can help by passing along this information. It’s really easy to email it to a friend or post to your favorite social media by using the Share buttons below or at the side of this post.
Header photo by Ansgar Walk (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
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