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Remembering color television

Yes, Tom Shales, I remember the unfurling peacock.

Many a baby boomer can easily recall NBC's animated peacock unfurling at the start of some major production, accompanied by a musical fanfare and announcer Mel Brandt intoning majestically, "The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC."...

You can see those original peacock openings -- the birdie went through a few different versions -- at many Web sites. [Here's one.] If you lived through TV's early days, the sound of that orchestral theme and the sense of auspiciousness may actually give your spine a tingle or two. They helped imbue the programs that they preceded with an exciting sense of event.

Tom gets it exactly right. My earliest memories are filled with expeditions out the back door, through the back yard, almost to the woods, until finally I reached the home of the Blitches, who at any hour of day or night would let me in to go sit in the back room and watch their TV. The very concept of television was incredible -- and eventually we'd be able to afford our own set -- but a key moment in the magic was the leap from black-and-white to color. Partly this was because the colors were better-than-life. The reds were redder, the oranges orangier. The world as seen on TV was so much more vivid and intense -- so much more saturated in color -- than the drab, sepia-toned world of mid-1960s Hogtown.

From the Wikipedia piece on color TV: "...the number of color television sets sold in the U.S. did not exceed black and white sales until 1972, which was also the first year that more than fifty percent of television households in the U.S. had a color set."

It was so great. It was like stepping out of Dorothy's little tornado-tossed house and seeing, for the first time, Oz.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 26, 2010; 8:09 AM ET
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I was just posting this when I goofed, so putting it here before I read the kit.

Romeo and Juliet - too racy for High School students. A group wanted a production to make adjustments to the play to tone it down. Oh My!

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Loved that peacock. I think around 1972 was when we got colour TV (a throw in when we purchased our new car). Took a long time to get over the thrill of having colour TV - we kept the black and white one and it stayed in my parents bedroom for another 15 years at least.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Since I am the only one here I will bore you with our recent colour/HDTV story.

We bought a new LCD/LED TV a couple of month ago, sold on the energy efficiancy and the vibrant colour of the screen compared to others. Not too large it is perfect for the family room.

Dutifully hooked it up to the HD receiver and proceeded to be amazed at the lovely picture quality. But after a few weeks we noticed we were having a hard time telling the difference between HD channel and regular and the sound was a little off.

So one day I was hooking my laptop up to watch and event that was only being live streamed by accidently pushing one button I discovered that I could change the inputs to the TV and accident changed the input to the HD receiver - WOW full HD picture and sound. For the last couple of weeks we will randomly turn to the channels just to view something different in HD (downhill skiing from Wengen was awesome).

And yes we have not stopped laughing at how St*pid we were.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

These economic times are so bumpy. Think I got some bad news in an obtuse fashion. Wish that folks would be straight up.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

dmd3... how did you hook up your computer to your HDTV?

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I bought my first color TV about three months ago for around a hundred bucks. The store had a half price sale to make room for digital sets.

I'm always behind the technology curve.


Posted by: Braguine | January 26, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

We got our first TV in the very early 1950's - a 9" RCA console B&W (of course). The first thing I remember watching on it was a Redskins game. That was replaced a few years later with a Dumont "portable" that we got when my grandmother passed away. It had and 18" screen "Oh My"! Anyone else remember Dumont TV's, and the Dumont TV network? It came in on Channel 5 around here. My dad, being a thrifty sort, didn't retire the Dumont and go to color until he couldn't get tubes for the old set anymore. Our old Sony color job died about a year and half ago, and we broke down and got a 42" LCD Vizio HD unit. Very pleased with it so far.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 26, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Sexual dichromatism, if you ask me. What would would have been even more amazing to me is if NBC had chosen the peahen for its logo decades ago.

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Well that is another story of our dimness (took several tries at the computer store) and after the third attempt a comment from my husband, "I am an IT guy - why can't I run a computer store" which followed much laughter from me and a gentle reminder that after three tries he still had purchased the wrong connection, we both went to the store for the fourth attempt, and the sales clerks laughed at us, but also threw in a free connection because they liked us.

Short story, my laptop does not have an HDMI connection so we use a (parallel port?) that you use to hook the laptop to a projection screen, you can then use the sound from the laptop or hook up an audio cable.

I am getting ready for the Olympics so testing all the methods I will need to watch the events I want (including live streaming).

I have mentioned I am Olympic obsessed right, and I only like watching the events live unless I do not have an option - this has in the past included waking up in the middle of the night to do so.

I have so many issues :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The fan feathers, in a radial arangement, are displayed geometrically because of the powerful muscles in the male peafowl's tale.

There's a selective advantage in having powerful tail muscles that make those feathers vibrate and produces an audible hum. The male shakes his boody to get the attention of the females--a male exotic dancer a la Chippendale?

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Brag, I find that color is the only way to go when watching a Chavez speech.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The set I remember from my early childhood was a huge RCA console, IIRC. We got a color TV in the late 60's and were about the last family around to go color.

My parents-in-law bought a lovely maple cabinet color set when they moved into their new house in 1968. That TV lasted till about 2000, and my mother-in-law used the cabinet in her den until she died. It's in Mr. T's workshop in the mountains...

Posted by: slyness | January 26, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse


I am consulting with a company in this area called Hillcrest Labs. They make wireless controllers and a bunch of Internet-to-HD devices.

There is a very interesting product from Warpia which does a wireless HDMI connection via a USB dongle that you should look at.

Yeah, I am plugging Warpia, but I don't work for them. I have a good friend who publishes a broadcast technology mag. and I have been trying to see if the industry is going to do an on-demand web solution for their content. ESPN seems to be the only network with a clue... CBS is in the dark, but has a lot of sports content.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Potentially wonderful news here (understanding the dangers of over-interpreting a single medical study) -- some coffee each day could keep the probing finger away:

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Hope you're OK, RT.

Hi to all.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 26, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, that was one of the odder posts that I have seen, here, I applaud you.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I remember first noticing the NBC peacock right before new episodes of "Star Trek," and will forever make that association.

However, I don't think I actually saw Trek in color until it was in syndication.

The first vivid memories of the Peacock in Living Color are somehow associated in my head with coverage of the Vietnam War and speeches from President Nixon.

Two things that didn't improve with color TV, IMO.

I wonder if NBC would be willing to step up with 3D TV broadcasts, er, I mean, *service* (I understand that 3D TV is one of the big hits at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas)? That could shake the old tailfeathers for awhile.


Posted by: -bc- | January 26, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

dmd, you are funny - and definitely obsessed - which is just fine.

I don't remember radio at all so we must have gotten a TV when I was quite young. I remember my dad taking the back off to check the tubes when something went wrong. I had an older cousin who repaired TV's and who would come by and fix ours when dad was stumped. I also don't remember when we got our first color set, but I know I was married by then. I think I had an old b&w set as a back up until about ten years ago. Nice to know that the sets are more reliable now. Of the five (!) sets in our house, one is at least 20 years old and another at least ten. We bought an HDTV as a Christmas gift for each other but it's not connected to an HD box yet. We're waiting until we switch to FIOS this summer when our present contract runs out.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 26, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

russianthistle - thank you, I am interested, up here both CBC and CTV livestream a lot of events, for CBC most of their sports are livestreamed even when they are not on TV (why I used the laptop). For the Olympics there will be tons of live streaming.

My only hestitation is if my laptop is wirelessly hooked to the TV full time - between being online and watching events and TV I may never get off the couch :-).

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

From the last kit, ScienceTim bemoaned the changes to the Sunday Style section. I agree with him and Mudge. It is rare that I find even one article in it that I want to read. It used to be one of my favorite sections in the Sunday paper and now it takes me about 10 seconds to page through it. Except for reading Richard Thompson's comic, that is.

Posted by: -pj- | January 26, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Joel traipsed to the neighbors to see pretty-picture color TV. But some years before there had been an intense turf battle behind the scenes in the battles between networks during the rise of network broadcasting. May I refer you to Chapter 10, "The Color War," in Laurence Bergreen's 1980 "Look Now, Pay Later."

Put simply, the color war battlefield was between NBC and CBS, and a knowledge or gut feeling by NBC's Sarnoff that the FCC would react to situations in the marketplace rather than create them. Sarnoff guesed correctly, according to Bergreen, that the FCC would be reactive rather than proactive, that the regulatory body would not initiate a new television system, but would legitimate one already in use. So it beame a stuggle over market share or dominance in terms of TV sets in place within households and those sets' ability or compatability to receive a color signal and the technology used to send the signals.

At last the time ws right. The black-and-white sets with which RCA flooded the market met with gleeful acceptance. In 1946, only 6,000 television sets were in use. By 1949, the number had increased to 3 million and none of them were capable of receiving a CBS color picture. The popular response clinched Sarnoff's victory. When, in 1949, the FCC (not B&W) systems, and this time found in CBS's favor, the decision came too late consumer acceptance of CBS color.

[Sarnoff's no friend in the Loomis household given his dealings with Loomis-descendant Philo T. Farnsworth.]

Times had changed indeed. Where technological advances had come fast and cheap in the 1920s, refinements in this increasingly complex industry now consumed decades and cost dear. Radio was paying for television's sins. Goldmark [Peter, inventor of the field sequential color sytem, and a person who so delighted in the first color movie "Gone with the Wind"] at the very center of the struggle, harbored profound doubts about the entire effort. "Sarnoff offered his engineers prizes as high as $10,000 for any breakthrough in the color field," he wrote. "Some men are said to have suffered nervous breakdowns because of it. I wonder if it was worth it?"

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

SCC: When, in 1949, the FCC again opened hearings on color (not B&W) systems, and this time found in CBS's favor, the decision came too late to allow consumer acceptance of CBS color.

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

dmd, that's why you need "The Loop" ... it is so circular that infinity seems attainable from a couch. All you need is a Lazy Boy with a built in beer cooler.

This household would fill it with Blue.

Speaking of which, the 2010 World Pond Hockey Championships are coming up in a week or two.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I remember waking up one morning when I was about 11 or 12 and wandering into the living room and there on the floor was a brand-new color TV. Don't know why it appeared there during the night, but my sister and I were ecstatic. I'm disappointed that I forgot to ask my dad about that. Maybe he won it in a poker game? Not sure.

I do remember that the Walt Disney show on Sunday nights was called "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color." It was always such a letdown to know that we were missing the whole point.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

You had a color TV? We were so poor we had to trap a barn swallow and finger-paint colors on him, and then duct-tape him to the front of our black-and-white.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 26, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Why does that fact that the World Pond Hockey championship takes place in Plaster Rock amuse me so much. Note Bud Light is a sponsor.

And they have a ladies division this year! Yes.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

hey RT... hope all is OK with you. And even though I don't know who you're talking about, I hope all goes well with Jason, too.

Cassandra... check in.. let us know how things go today.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. We finally got some snow, after a full day of rain (41mm!) yesterday.

The Haute-Mainers will remember the CBC butterfly. "A CBC Colour Presentation/Une émission couleur de Radio-Canada"".

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I finally got around to reading the article about Menachem Youlus, who I remember appearing in the Post magazine back in 2004. It is very distressing. It sounds a lot like "The Producers", except for being totally unfunny and cruelly playing with the emotions of people who are only trying to be of service to tradition and to their people. Somehow, this man has managed to sell the same two restored Torah scrolls to 5 people. The warning signs are all through the story, but he's a rabbi, a trusted figure and person of respect. Is he a pathological liar? A conscious liar? A little prone to shading the truth? Unwilling to let mere facts get in the way of a good story? A crook? One way or another, he clearly is not a source of unvarnished factual truth.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

NOT AT ALL fond of the individual who wrote Shales' headline. The history of color has to do with competition and technology. I'll grant nad it so obvious that the peacock is a symbol used for network identification and marketing. Too bad Shales or his headline writer make the silly jump from the [dying animal (symbol)] peacock to poor programming decisions on the part of the network and its honcho Jeff Zucker. A Shales' sympathy pull for live beasts, no? (When other animal habitats within the U.S. have all but disappeared..see the piece about loss of jaguar habitat in the U.S. at the NYT yesterday). YMMV.

I think Maureen Dowd had a better take on the situation in a recent op-ed column. With Dowd on the prowl in the Sunshine State, what happens in Hollywood doesn't stay in Hollywood. *w*

In a town where nobody makes less than they’re worth, and most people pull in an obscene amount more [hence, the subdued Haiti relief fundraiser. "Up in the Air" Clooney and his cohorts got it: the emphasis was on the Haitians, not the celebrity wattage on stage and staffing the phones--interesting to backboodle to your comments that night], there has been a single topic of discussion: How does Jeff Zucker keep rising and rising while the fortunes of NBC keep falling and falling?

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

NBC still has a great lineup on Thursday nights: Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock are some of the best TV around.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Going off-Kit...

There's a very good piece of reporting in this morning's Washington about about genetic testing, "Genetic tests give consumers hints about disease risk; critics have misgivings."

As you know, I have been struggling mightily with questions about whether there may be a genetic basis, BRAC1 or BRAC2, for the cases of female breast cancer in the Swanson branch ofour family, or whether the cancers are a result of lifestyle choices, or possibly both situations.

When I spoke to cousin Bev last Friday, she said her older sister Shirley, who died two years ago in January from breast cancer, had had a drink a day and was very unaware of body-health topics. I mentioned that to my husband, and he said a drink a day isn't a lot. It is if a woman has predisposing factors to breast cancer or is facing the cancer's recurrence.

Looking for the most recent information on breast cancer research, I had to turn no furhther than our own fair and winter-warm city, because often (perhaps annually, not sure), nationwide cancer symposiums are held here in December, as one was last December. This site has all the press releases from last month; the ones I'm most interested in are those that deal with alcohol, obesity, and biophosphonates, because these drugs help to prevent bone loss and my own rare disorder keeps me from losing bone tissue. These releases tell about half the story in terms of research, not the genetic side.

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

I have nothing to add to the color TV/NBC discussion that would be worth reading. I lack the gene for nostalgia.

Regarding dead tree newspapers, as the various sections of newspapers have gotten less interesting, we've gone from two papers seven days a week to one paper Sunday only. And I'm seriously thinking about cancelling that as well.

Roads around here are a bit icy this morning. Maybe I'll take the chair out and do donuts in the condo parking lot. Whee!

Posted by: MsJS | January 26, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm too young for this kit. Now, you want nostalgia, talk about the advent of closed captioning in the 1970's and how while there was an early model that had built in captioning, it broke, and we spent over a decade using a clunky captioning converter until the 1993 bill mandated all TVs over a certain size come with a captioning chip.

We did have a tiny black and white TVs but that was strictly for fatherly emergencies, kind of like a picture radio, and it didn't have words on.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

It's weird, all the tvs I've had that come with built-in captioning chips have never had that break, while the early, special ones did.

There might be a lesson in there about quality, capitalism, and regulation somewhere.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Fur tech leaks on floor
If gnome doesn't shut up right now
to take me outside.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Oh yes indeedy I remember that animated peacock logo well. Although I saw it originally in black and white. We had a B&W television up until the seventies. I remember when Batman would come on they used to make a big deal about it being broadcast in color. My brothers and I used to laugh ourselves silly over this. But we were easily amused.

I first saw a color television over at my maternal grandfather's house. (As I recall this fact caused some sort of intense though complex strife between he and my father. Just another example of the hidden social cost of advanced technology. But I digress.) Grandpa was almost as proud of this as he was his quadraphonic stereo. But I thought the color television was way cooler.

For me the impact of color television was far greater than that of any other audiovisual technological advancement since. I mean, sure, now we have televisions that are bigger, flatter and with higher resolution. But nothing compares to the visceral thrill of discovering that the Enterprise has an ethereal bluish tinge.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"The reds were redder, the oranges orangier. The world as seen on TV was so much more vivid and intense -- so much more saturated in color -- than the drab, sepia-toned world of mid-1960s Hogtown."

That's funny, Joel. My memory of early color television is that the faces were orangier or greener and the main activity was fiddling with the "color" and "hue" knobs trying to get it right.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 26, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I remember after speaking with cousin Bev last Friday afternoon that there was an alcohol component to Cousin Shirley's life story that I remembered vividly, but I couldn't remember the details. Saturday night I began searching my own files, and found the family tree information.

Why do I have this information? Because 10 years ago, in 2000, I began calling all my cousins on both my mother's and father's sides of the family, looking to see if anyone had any problems with calcium, the calcium factor a big part of my own genetic disorder FHH. This was before I knew anything about Victor McKusick and the database he developed at Johns Hopkins, the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database.

The Loomis cousins were guarded and not very helpful, especially when I asked the two of them if they would get a simple blood test showing whether or not they had high blood calcium. And yes, my female Loomis cousin has a strange calcium manifestation. I also collected all my cousins' life stories--as much as they would or wouldn't share, when I called them, and wrote up the information shortly after each call.

Cousin Shirley was absolutely the most open cousins with whom I spoke. I was saddened to learn that her life of all the female cousins had been perhaps the most difficult. Since Cousin Shirley freely gave me this information, I share the following information with the hope it will inform some person about the dangers of alcohol and possible predisposition to breast cancer or its recurrence.

Alcohol was no stranger in her home:


Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Weeezy and TeeeBG--

Yes, I will be fine if I get paid for past owed billed amounts. It is just a push to diversify. The government sitting on their hands has cost me some cash each month as client cut resource needs in at least half.

Thanks for your thoughts about my friend. A perfect example about how not having a reasonable single payer system hurts folks. Financial burdens of self-employed folks if they encounter a severe health issue.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, edbyronadams twiddling with the color dials was endlessly entertaining. And sure way to get in a *whole* lot of trouble. The other way was to hold a magnet up to the tube for fun

Thankfully, the effects wore off quickly.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

dmd3, WPH is one of the great sporting classics of all times.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Alcohol was no stranger in her home:

[Shortly after a brief first marriage at the age of 18 that ended badly, with a beautiful toddler daughter in tow,] Shirley met the man who would become her second husband. About the same time, she was attending San Jose State College, with the goal of becoming a teacher. However, after taking her first accounting class at college, she fell in love with accounting and decided to forego the teaching path. She began working in the accounting and secretarial field.

Shirley married for the second time, and this second marriage produced two children, a son and a daughter. The second husband adopted Shirley's child from her first marriage. Shirley's second husband worked at Bekins Moving and Storage, where he started as a driver, moved into sales, became a district manager, and finally vice president of the Oakland, Calif. operations. They had the big house, the pool, the boat, and the Cadillac, but unfortunately, Shirley's second husband had discovered alcohol and had become an alcoholic. Now married to an alcoholic, Shirley thought her life was over. After counseling, Shirley resorted to shock treatment for her husband. She gave her husband two options: quite drinking or she would separate from him and take the children. He chose the three B’s—Bekins, booze and the boat. They divorced and Shirley's second husband died alone at age 47 from a massive heart attack, brought on by his heavy drinking.

And the heavyset cousin who had a double mastectomy in Wyoming this past summer? I barely know her. In the past 45 years, I have had only two hours of "face-time' with her, in 2000, when my husband and I took two weeks and drove from Indiana to Wyoming for a tour of the Tetons and Yellowstone. And only since then the exchange of Christmas-timne letters. I initiated the contact then, as I did this past summer. There's more to her particular story than meets the eye, sadly, and certainly economic class differences between the two of us.

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

The history of color television is complex and it is hard to craft a single coherent narrative. But I have heard some interesting little anecdotes by friends who are seriously into 'lectronics.

Prior to WWII the leading technology was one that involved spinning disks of translucent color. If it hadn't been for the intervention of WWII and the radical improvements in electron beam technology spurred by this conflict, some believe the mechanical system might have become the standard.

Eventually, of course, the superior all-electronic techniques would have certainly become dominant, but the time scale is unknown.

Just one of these curious contingencies of technology.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Wheezy... want to ask you something.. can you email me at boodler [at] mac [dot] com?

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I'd think the bigger difference between you is that she (presumably) has a heart and some judgment.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 26, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"The other way was to hold a magnet up to the tube for fun"

You can do real science at home! What fun! I actually encouraged my own kids to do stuff like that. Hands on experience is a leg up on mastering Maxwell.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 26, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"As you know, I have been struggling mightily with questions about whether there may be a genetic basis, BRAC1 or BRAC2, for the cases of female breast cancer in the Swanson branch ofour family, or whether the cancers are a result of lifestyle choices, or possibly both situations."

laloomis, you neglect the null hypothesis: that the cancers have neither a clear heritable basis nor result from lifestyle choices but are simply a run of bad luck or may have been promoted by external environmental conditions for which the victims are in no way responsible. My memory of the situation (admittedly, I have not kept up with the subject) is that BRCA1 & 2, while associated with a definite increased probability of breast cancer occurrence, account for a modest minority of actual breast cancers. By all means, seek DNA-testing for yourself and relatives in that lineage -- it can't hurt to rule it out, and may provide important information to fuel medical and lifestyle decisions if it should turn out that these genes run in your family. However, the lack of BRCA1 or 2 is not a shield against cancer.

Be cautious of the "blame the victim" mentality of identifying lifestyle choices as a cause for illness. We all make "lifestyle choices" and manage to justify to ourselves any negative consequences of our own choices while denigrating the choices made by others. Smoking, for example, increases the probability of various cancers, but it's not a guarantee of cancer and is very far from an act of suicide. Diet choices (both quantity and selection), level of exercise, outdoors vs. indoors work, outdoors vs. indoors living, and everything else: all have associated positive and negative attributes for longevity and health, if you just look closely enough. Some choices (like smoking) are more disadvantageous than others, but a non-smoking lifestyle is no guarantee against lung cancer, just as my low cholesterol and no-more-than-modest adiposity was no guarantee against coronary artery disease, and my friend's low-fat vegetarian diet and low body-fat provided no guard against diabetes. Bad stuff happens, good stuff happens. We can promote one and discourage the other, but there are only two certainties: death and taxes.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Do y'all remember those pieces of clear plastic you could get from a catalog that turned your B&W TV into a "color" one?

It seemed to have a strip of green at the bottom and blue at the top, or something like that. At least that's what the picture in the catalog looked like.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Excellent and incredibly important point SciTim.

Of course, I have also read that one significant characteristic of those who enjoy a long life is an optimistic outlook and strong positive friendships. What a bummer for some.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I wish I could wax nostalgic. Sadly, when I was very young we didn't have a television, and I think my parents got their first colour TV in about 1979, when I was long out of the house. I got one of my own c. 1986.

Posted by: Yoki | January 26, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

edbyronadams, remember we fiddled with not only the "color" and the "hue" but the "tint." Also the brightness and the "vertical." How many hours did we spend trying to get the vertical scroll to stop scrolling?

These kids today don't understand the hardship.

Posted by: joelache | January 26, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

But back to the telly. Remember when there was a weird mishmash of b&w and color programming? I remember the surprise of seeing that Gilligan's Island wasn't always in color. (Although I believe that the early b&w episodes have been colorized. Which might be considered a travesty for Casablanca, but was pretty cool for the castaways.)

Also, Joel's mention of the Wizard of Oz reminded me of when I first saw that movie. Which, was, of course, on a b&w set. Sorta lost some of the point. And a a shame that poor Margaret Hamilton had to endure that corrosive copper make-up for naught.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh Joel. The scrolling. I had suppressed the scrolling...

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Ah, but Joel... we still have these types of hardships... just the other day the electricity kept flickering and the Tivo kept rebooting.

Oh the horror. I can't believe I make my kids live like this.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

loomis, I do not understand what benefit you are bringing to the situation by putting details of your family's personal medical information - and your intepretation of their personal lives - into the Achenblog, and by extension, the Washington Post.


Posted by: -bc- | January 26, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Joel, and we had to rise from our seats to do it. Oh, the travail of the '60s.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 26, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

TBG - Didn't they show one of those on an early episode of Happy Days?

I've never seen one, but once in the mid sixties, as a way to keep us younguns entertained, my mother encouraged us to tape together random pieces of colored cellophane. She would then attach these to the screen of our black and white television to the great amusement of us all.

You just can't put a price on that kind of fun.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The reason we purchased the new TV was because the TV in the family room could not hold the picture any longer, it flickered, a lot, didn't bother me that much lived with it for months but the others in the house could not stand it.

It was almost a throw back to having to adjust the vertical hold.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I remember back in the B&W days messing with both the vertical and horizontal "hold," and dealing with the rolling. I also remember quite well when something happened to the TV, my father would take the back off and inspect the tubes. Sometimes you coukld see which one had blown. At other times you took a bunch of them to a (good) drugstore or hardware store that had a testing machine. You'd put in each tube to see which was bad.

Back then there was such a thing as a "TV repairman," who would come to your house and fix it. Sometimes he would utter the dread words, "We're going to have to take it into the shop." And it was quite common to have some humongus built-in console model that weighed about 200 lbs. Sometimes the TV and its chassis could come out, sometimes not.

Antennas were always a pain in the patoot. Rabbit ears: blech (sorry, bunny lovers). Then there were always the jury-rigged ad hoc solutions: a wire coathanger, and maybe even a piece of wire running over to the window.

Those were the days when "mojo" really counted for something, if you had it. There were times when the TV worked better depending on how close you stood to it, and/or the picture moved and distorted if you put your hand close to it or pulled it away.

My ex's father was a TV repairman.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 26, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I sent you e-mail, TBG.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 26, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The cousin I mentioned who was a TV repairman went on to become a software engineer for IBM. He was smart enough to do that even before TV's evolved. I remember weather affecting our TV reception, especially on the Cape before we got cable. Of course that still happens to anyone who has satellite TV (me for example).

Posted by: badsneakers | January 26, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I think Joel may be thinking of how the first hugely successful 3-D film mirrors the introduction of the color TV. My family went without one in the '60s for so long I can't remember when we first got one! If we even did. One appeared at some point but I may have even been in college when the parents got one. I can't remember when I got one.

I was immediately reminded of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, which we watched on black & white. I do remember the occasional frustration I felt at that. But the mind fills in something unconsciously with practice, and we had plenty of practice watching B&W. I remember seeing Wizard of Oz repeatedly in later years when I DID see it in color and never comprehending the part where it changes into color until it was specifically pointed out to me.

I didn't know the Blitches lived near you Joel.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 26, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I remember seeing ads in the paper for a "colorizing" kit for your B&W TV. It consisted of a sheet of clear heavy plastic that had a gradation of tints, beginning with blue at the top, blending into sort of pink in the middle and sort of olive green at the bottom. This was supposed to give the feel of color TV when you stuck the plastic onto your screen. Somehow, I think you were better off with just the B&W.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 26, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Too young for B&W, but I do remember having to use the UHF and VHF dials and getting our first remote-controlled TV around 1990. We never figured why my hearing impaired father ever bought it, because it didn't have closed captioning and we didn't have an external box. For a few years, he had it set up across the room so he could use the remote, and the old dial controlled one with internal cc was within arm's reach on the coffee table. He would actually watch two shows at once, one on captioning and reading the lips/hearing the other. Drove Mom crazy.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | January 26, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse


Weingarten just admitted he violated the jury instructions with his "experiment":

Gene Weingarten: No. I did it the morning before we were going to start deliberations.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I just saw that too, Scotty. He did say he wasn't going to tell any other juror though.

Posted by: MsJS | January 26, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the most mysterious part of a television was the UHF dial. Rumor has it that if you twisted the outer dial just so you could receive actual television programs. Mysterious programs known only to a select few. We didn't believe it, though. We spent hours mucking with that dial and never saw anything but some ghostly images trying to teach us Japanese.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't know that "not tellling" makes much of a difference.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

OK, some old TV program memories - The aforementioned Kukla, Fran and Ollie was a classic, probably the real precursor to the Muppets. Milton Berle; Howdy Doody; I Love Lucy; the Gale Storm show; Our Miss Brooks; Dinah Shore (M-m-m-Wah!); Jackie Gleason; Captain Video and His Space Rangers; Today, with Dave Garroway; Edward R. Murrow; Gunsmoke; Huntley & Brinkley; Your Hit Parade; Art Linkletter; Gabby Hayes; Mister Wizard. For you DC locals - Pick Temple; Jimmy Dean.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 26, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I remember adjusting the antennae --getting the angles right for each station (sometimes requiring seperate adjustments), finding that the only time you I could get that Baltimore station was by actually holding one arial and reaching an arm out (and having to watch Captain Chesapeake while remaining in that position), then experimenting with tin foil and coathangars for extended range.

Or at least reduced manual adjustment frequency.

Don't even get me started on the gyrations for UHF stations.


Posted by: -bc- | January 26, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Just for the sake of argument, Scotty, what if most of the jurors were, say, football fans and knew immediately how far away something would be if you said "50 ft" or "100 yards" because they had experience seeing things those distances away while hearing/reading the actual distance. Then Weingarten and I, the distance impaired, can't assess if something is 30 feet or 30 yards to save our lives. How does it hurt, really, if one does a remedial experiment to gain knowledge most others have readily at hand?

I think the outrage about the Weingarten story still should be at the police lying.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | January 26, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Cooler than color was my friends early Zenith Space Command remote. It used ultrasound to activate a motor on the rotary tuner.

Cachung, Cachung, Cachung and you got a new station without getting up.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 26, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

SCC: remove that first "you."

And with that, I remove me.


Posted by: -bc- | January 26, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

That's a great list ebtnut! The only one of those I recall seeing first run was Mr. Wizard, and that would have been, I believe, in 1965. And the only reason I remember it at all is that I attempted to duplicate his demonstration of a simple electrical circuit. Of course, instead of using a battery like the learned Mr. Wizard, I just stuck a stripped Christmas light into an electrical outlet.

It didn't turn out exactly the same.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I am also outraged (and, sadly, not surprised) about the police lying, but juries are instructed specifically not to do such experiments, aren't they?

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure I-mom, ftb and others can more precisely outline why Weingarten screwed up with his "experiment." Also, one of the chat commenters provided a plausible explanation for why the "eyes" might have seen the suspect at a much shorter distance before IDing the person as having received the marked money.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Ranger Hal and Cap'n Tug were my early DC TV memories. My best friend appeared on Ranger Hal and got a Chatty Kathy for her birthday. Sigh. What a thing of beauty.

My sisters talked about Pick Temple, but I didn't remember him. I think I vaguely think he had something to do with Shirley Temple.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Marigolds basking
in gamma rays on the moon
Still die from no air...


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

And he says his wife's a lawyer. What gives?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

About Weingarten: I've always wanted to point out someone flaunting his flouting.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Semi-on-kit story: About 3 years ago my husband was asked to do a phone survey about household electronics. After they had gone though how many VCRs and DVD players we had, the girl asked him how we received our television: cable or satellite. He answered "Rabbit ears." In the long silence that followed he swore he could hear her mind trying to wrap her mind around that answer. "Is that the name of your service?" she tried. "Does it come to your house on a wire?" When he explained, complete with a description of the coat hangers and tin foil extensions we were currently sporting, she told him she was pretty certain that disqualified him for the survey and hung up.

We now have satellite in the house, but only because we couldn't get any stations on analog when we moved to more mountainous terrain. Haven't tried since the switch. I use a digital antenna for my apartment though. I find it breaks up more than the rabbit ears did.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | January 26, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Capt. Tug?? what kinds of kids shows did you have in DC? :-)

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Oops... apparently he was Cap'n Tugg...

He showed cartoons and talked to Mr. Flanagan down in the engine room via some sort of hose/horn thingy.

Of course, he was no Friendly Giant.

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

About TV --

We had the second TV set in Long Beach, California. My dad was a ham radio operator and LOVED being on the cusp of technology -- he had a ham radio in his car. If I remember correctly, the TV screen was about half the size of the monitor in front of my face. Besides all the adjusting of tubes, and wiggling of antenna, we had a long plastic "stick" with which we could poke the TV's innards. Sometimes it improved the picture. Usually not. We soon got a big plastic bubble that sat in front of the screen and magnified the picture a little bit.

One problem with being on the cusp of technology was that there was little to see on early television. I spent many an hour watching the LA Angels baseball. Not that I liked baseball; there was nothing else on.

Posted by: nellie4 | January 26, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Are you telling us your PIN, rt?

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Was Capt. Tugg related at all to Gen. Pull My Finger?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 26, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Bosco? Weed indisputabely wins the award for the all-time shortest but most evocative posting ever. A flood of memories...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 26, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"I hate Bosco,
it really tastes yuck-y
Mommy puts it in my milk to try and poison me!

I fooled Mommy,
I put it in her tea.
Now there is no Mommy to try and poison me!"

Posted by: kguy1 | January 26, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

i'm also too young to wax nostolgic about color tv but i do remember *seeing* b/w tv's - i think my grandmother had one when she first came to this country - but she (and we) were quite poor at the time and couldn't afford fancy tv's... my mother had the same tv that we've had since i was 7 until 5 years ago - the kind with the dial... i do have to say how happy i am that tv's (and computer monitors) are flat now - they used to be SO heavy!

now the first day of MTV - THAT i remember vividly!! my cousin and i were obsessed with it!!

Posted by: mortii | January 26, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

We're with MotM in still doing antenna gyrations, all the more so after the digital switch -- since it's pretty much all or nothing, we can't stop at good enough. A pain in bad weather, but I do feel very frugal getting free tv. We may eventually decide we want espn and join the modern world, but I'm darned if we're going to become cable victims just for reception. If we hold out long enough, everything will be streamed online anyhow.

I just finished my lunch of chicken soup it couldn't hurt. A student-carried bug snuck through my alphabet song handwashing this week (that song's mojo is failing all over the place these days). At least I've had both flu shots, so it's nothing major. I'm just hoping my voice comes back a bit before I have to teach tomorrow. D'you think I can lecture in a whisper? Maybe I could hire a sign interpreter to voice for me and practice my ASL.

Posted by: -bia- | January 26, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

That sounds dandy, bia,and it's one of the top reasons I think everybody should pick up a little ASL.

Or you could whisper through a megaphone?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Live chat the lecture bia, save your voice :-).

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Mo - do you remember the first song on MTV, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles?

(Although I don't think this was the video used.)

Man, I love that song.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to regional kids shows, Seattle's JP Patches, like, totally rocked.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 26, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

While on the subject of early TV, does anyone remember "Winky Dink?" You could buy a plastic cover to put on the TV screen and draw/color on it.

And no, Cap'n Tugg wasn't involved with Winky Dink.

Posted by: capsfan77 | January 26, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Netflix, bia. All Netflix, all the time, no cable.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

The Peacock was a popular bird, surviving efforts by NBC to move on to something more sophisticated. Who needs sophisticated when you've got a lightshow of a tail?

I finally acquired a color TV around 1990, only to have it and its successor burgled. Then came an unwieldy big cheap one, then a sleek Toshiba from Costco, then a 40"last year. Only 720p, so supposedly Blu-ray isn't worth the bother. But I wandered into Best Buy recently and was amazed at the proliferation of blu-rays, like crabgrass crowding out the dvds. I exited the store with a $9 blu-ray of "The Wild Bunch", a movie that I'd seen on July 4, 1969, a day when there was absolutely nothing else to do. Profoundly disturbing. I think I've only been as bothered by a very few theater productions, including (of all things) the stage version of "Tobacco Road". I somehow moved to the figurative Tobacco Road anyway.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 26, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, my grandmother's New York apartment had direct current electricity. That was a sufficiently common situation in the 1960s that it was possible to find a b&w TV for her.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 26, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

RD - wiki says "video killed the radio star" was indeed the first video shown but i must be remembering the first time WE could see it b/c according to wiki only a few thousand ppl on a single cable system in NJ could see it and i was in virginia. i DID like that song, but in the early days of MTV there were so few videos that what they had got play ad nauseum so i quickly so sick of said song. i do remember the original logo - the bouncing moon man. i used to LOVE 120 minutes in high school - pretty much the only place you could listen to serious alt-rock without buying the album... (album - yes, i believe my devo and depeche mode albums were indeed vinyl - as were any respectable underground albums...)


Posted by: mortii | January 26, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Depeche Mode was underground? Never thought of them that way.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

thnxs mudge

Posted by: russianthistle | January 26, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of NYC in the 1960s, there were lots of older apartment buildings with Edison's original direct current within walking distance NBC Studios and the Peacock's nest. Even right around nests of technology like the Rockefeller Institute (now University) and the nearby hospitals.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 26, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Our first colour TV was a solid-state "Quasar by Motorola", ca 1971. Made in the US, how quaint. But it cost around $500 in pre-inflation money, quite the sum.
Those were fairly safe. Mrs. D's grandfather had a vacuum-tube color set from the early 60s. The family use to blame the loss of colour the formerly-Blue Point Siamese cats experienced to the hours the cats spent around the hot but X-ray emitting TV. Probably shouldn't have bothered with neutering them either.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I remember watching Tarzan on Saturday mornings on our first small b/w TV. Tarzan was so good with vines.

Like Joel I remember always wanting to visit the Butlers down the street who had one of the first color TVs in the neighborhood. One of the first to have air conditioning, too. And soda delivered by the case! Man, what lucky kids.

Posted by: Windy3 | January 26, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

dmd - they were underground back THEN... they've been around so long that they've gone mainstream - like REM and U2

Posted by: mortii | January 26, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

but for the most part most alternative went mainstream in the 90's due to the popularity of Nirvana...


Posted by: mortii | January 26, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Think my views are a little distorted since I grew up listening to the alternative music station, and I will politely point out that the US music "scene" is a little more mainstream/pop than where I am.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

On my computer monitor right now, I am looking at color imagery far older than this stuff we are discussing today. Pictures of a Roman mosaic floor from Cologne (Köln), Germany. To my right is a beautifully shaded, 3D-rendered, life-like cherub sitting atop a reasonably anatomically-correct male lion. On my left is a chariot pulled by two Earth-bound parrots. Not only did Romans have great representational art, they also had a sense of humor, even in the provinces.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

We must have been the only family I knew that had color TV in the early '60s (probably '61). Not that we could afford it, but my mom won a huge console set in a raffle. If not for that, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have had a color set for another ten years. And we had three whole stations to choose from, since the network affiliates were the only game in town where we lived.

Of course, my parents always had first dibs on the color set, so the kids usually ended up watching "our" shows on the various legacy black and white sets we had. I was surprised when I would watch syndicated reruns in the '70s and discovered that many of the '60s TV shows that I had assumed were black and white were actually color (Gilligan's Island and The Prisoner come to mind). This still happens occasionally; I picked up ultra-cheap copies of The Avengers when A&E liquidated their VHS inventory a few years ago and was surprised to discover that the last few seasons had been in color.

Posted by: rashomon | January 26, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

we only had one alternative station - WHFS - that suddenly changed to a spanish music station one day w/out notice several years ago... funny, for a city like washington with tons of colleges we didn't have college radio...


Posted by: mortii | January 26, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The Avengers!

Mrs. Peel in her leather outfits driving her Lotus Elan and kicking the bad guys to the curb. Sort of a 60's PG Dominatrix For Good.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 26, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Sure, I remember Winky Dink, capsfan. Second grade. We sent away for the magic color kit-- a piece of clear plastic large enough to cover your TV screen, held on by static electricity (always so much fun to peel off and listen to the static crackle), and a set of "special" crayons that could write on the plastic. Then Winky Dinks and his cartoon friends would put dots of objects up on the screen and you could connect the dots with your special crayons, just like anti-terrorist security people are unable to do today. (I blame lack of Winky Dink training, quite frankly.) Jack Barry was the host. What a stiff.

...and of course, about a million TV screens WITHOUT the special plastic covering got crayoned.

Yes, we did Winky Dinks.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 26, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I see shenanigans are alive and well in the Big Easy...

I believe this article has a better photo, though...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

kguy, Diana Rigg's catsuit was actually quite demure compared to the episode that ABC Would Not Broadcast.

Posted by: rashomon | January 26, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Now Mrs. Peel, that was a different matter. I was already in college when the divine Mrs. Peel came upon the scene. Oh my. Yes indeed. Goodness gracious. Um hmm.

We used to walk three blocks to gather in the TV room in the main men's dorm at West Chester and watch The Avengers. And Hootenanny, and Shindig. And The Man From Uncle (all the girls just got limp and moist over Ilya Kuryakin). (We had no TV in my freshman house, technically a dorm but with 12 of us in a private residentce. How did we ever survive without a TV in 1964-65? Beer and card games is the answer. But no, we had no TV.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 26, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Not content with his recent haul in Haiti, apparently Lucifer is coming to collect his children everywhere!

Posted by: bobsewell | January 26, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes, The Man from Uncle. To bring things kind of full circle - I've gotten semi-hooked on NCIS, usually watching the re-runs on cable in the early evening. In one episode, Ducky (played by David McCallum) is called to a crime site, and got to discussing his distant past. He said something along the lines of "Yes, I knew a spy back then; name of Ilya Kuryakin." I about fell out of my Laz-e-boy.

Oh, and I do remember Cap't. Tugg, now that he's been mentioned. And Ranger Hal. His program used "Up A Lazy River" as it's theme song.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 26, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, Ilya...He's definitely one of the reasons I watch NCIS. I like the relationships among the characters, and it doesn't hurt that Mark Harmon looks amazing. Also they're funny. Does Avatar have any humor in it? That's probably the only thing that would make it palatable for me.

I was color-TV-deprived as a kid, too. My mom won a 13-inch color TV in about 1970 - at a horse show I dragged her to.

Posted by: seasea1 | January 26, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the Man from UNCLE, loved that show. Nobody has mentioned Dr. Kildare, who was probably my first great crush. I was shocked, just shocked I tell you all, when he came out of the closet.

'Round here the afternoon kids shows had Fred Kirby the cowboy on Channel 3 and Joey the Clown on Channel 9 competing head-to-head in the late afternoon. The things we remember from our childhood, when our heads weren't stuffed with useless information.

Posted by: slyness | January 26, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

ebtnut, it's not the same thing, but the season premiere of "Burn Notice" last week had a "Cagney and Lacey" reunion.

And mo, I think HFS sold out when they moved out of Bethesda. I listened until the corporate owners kicked Weasel and Nici to the curb. Damien tried, I know he did. But by about '92 it was done by my standards. When they stopped playing Motorhead, Kraftwerk, Velvet Underground, Rockpile, John Lee Hooker, Iggy and the Stooges, John Hiatt, Roxy Music and George Jones back-to-back, they lost me. Not that any of that was particularly underground (not like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, 4 out of 5 Doctors, or even Face Dancer and Fugazi), but even at that popular music level it was still eccentric and interesting and didn't have entirely corporate playlists determined by record companies. *sigh*

The University of MD has a decent college radio station - sweetly eccentric, but hardly any range whatsoever. When I'm lapping the Beltway, I can get it between Landover and Georgia Ave and that's pretty much it.


Posted by: -bc- | January 26, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I need to actually watch NCIS. Was unaware that Mark Harmon and David McCallum are still up and doing.

In the secret agent department, Patrick McGoohan had gravitas, a quality that quickly disappeared from the genre.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 26, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I think the word "gravitas" will forevermore be associated with Cheney, as that was the quality he was supposed to have brought to the office of VP.

Posted by: engelmann | January 26, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse


I hope they have the ignition key in the center console.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, this is the slope failure story in San Antonio that I mentioned yesterday. The only error in my posting is that I thought it was outside Loop 1604--our outer loop freeway--but it's just inside, not in the RiverMist subdivision, but in the Hills of RiverMist subdivision.

Subsequent pictures show the hillside and the slope giving way and workers frantic to stablilize it. Some property owners are in hotels, others in the subdivision are now concerned that their homes, though unaffected, are now worth thousands of dollars less.

The builder/developer--Centex, was taken over by Pulte last year. I will gladly admit that this is a true case of schadenfreude on my part. Our first home in San Antonio, that we lived in from 94-99, was built by Centex. So many problems that they had major work to redo in the entry and bath before we moved in, the building inspector that we hired pointed out a laundry list of problems that it took Centex very slowly about six months to correct, with some of those workers causing more damage within our home thanks to their carelessness--all of which delayed my re-entry into the work force here in Texas.

Worse, there had been a window broken (by neighborhood vandals) in our home that had been repaired shortly before we moved in, and the Centex crew had not properly cleaned up the shards of glass. I, barefoot, got glass in my foot (unknown to me, really, although I noted the initial discomfort. The heel of my foot became infected, so that walking became painful, so it meant a trip to the podiatrist. He found the longish shard of clear glass and had to remove it, a very painful procedure during which I was conscious. The scream when the needle went in was heard in Austin, I swear.

This afternoon I find that my husband didn't close the old microwave door, left it open with the light on inside, and I crossed the braided rug in the kitchen to close it. I felt a jab of pain in my foot and I have a small puncture wound along the bottom that has bled some. Seems my husband didn't clean up all the shards from the mug he broke Sunday morning after working ALL night for Wells Fargo. When he quits for the day, he intends to probe the area with a needle and bandage it. Let's hope there's no invisible shard in there.

So it goes around here. Last night he left the cold water on, running in his bathroom basin. Forgot it was on, and secondly, without his hearing aids in, couldn't hear it. Did I mention that on several occasions, when driving home, he has forgotten to turn into our subdivision, a route that certainly should be imprinted in his brain by now, after nine years in our home?

So, yes, schadenfreude at the news of Centex's slope failure. I hope the homeowners in RiverMist take Centex to the cleaners fianacially and otherwise. Did I mention that Centex failed to get the proper permit from the city when they built the rock retaining way that is giving away this week?

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Cheney was the black hole of self-centered gravitas, indeed; his evil collapsed far beyond Chandrasekhar's limit.

He had so much gravitas that the secret service agent assigned to him had to check his pulse every minute to be sure he was still alive.

Ah, but the memories of Dux Cheneus are too grave to joke about.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Kildare. sigh. Me too. But mostly I remember Raymond Massey, whose brother Vincent was our first Canadian born Governor General. Their family owned Massey Ferguson which just so happened to be the kind of tractor my dad had.

To my young mind,that meant we were almost related.

Posted by: --dr-- | January 26, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

The sacred ties of tractorship are not to be sneezed at, dr.
What other farm implement can so much be trusted to?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Why does this beg to be immortalized in nursery rhyme?

Lizard Kubus took a few spare socks
And slid forty-four geckos into his jocks
And when they saw what he could do
They forced him to go fully commando.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

SCC: should be
"But when they saw what he could do
They forced him to fly fully commando"

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 26, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I had a good time once in Vincent Massey park. It's just across Carleton University, just ask dmd. The fishing below Hog's back isn't bad either.

Just because the resident poetic Gnome mention going commando I'll overshare with this bit of superfluous info. I went to the Big Book Store at lunch time. On my way there I noted a guy in a knee length skirt wearing work boots walking the opposite way. Nothing wrong with that but he had no nylons nor any other leg covering and he wasn't THAT hairy. Nice grey pleated skirt. Must have been a little fresh on this day, the temperature being around 0C/32F all day.

I went to the BBS to buy Winfield's last Frost novel we didn't have, A Killing Frost, and came back with 8 books. It was one of my worst visit at this place on the basis of a cogent neutral must/want analysis but there you go. There was a sudoku book for Mrs. D. in the package so that one doesn't count.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 26, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

That spiked collar on Emma Peel would have been daring for even Sydney Bristow. The entire 1968 season of The Avengers is available on Netflix On Demand. I'm only one episode in, but they aren't going anywhere.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Our last black and white TV was in 1979. We had just returned from the Philippines to Florida and my dad was leaving for Korea the next day for a year.

Our household goods which included the color TV weren't going to arrive for another three months, so my dad went out and bought us a used black and white 13" television for ten dollars to tide us over. It lasted an hour before it burned up in a puff of smoke.

As soon as my dad was gone, my mother and I went to Unclaimed Freight and bought a new Curtis Mathis for $400. Big money in 1979.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Almost time for the Jeopardy quiz.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, know the spot well lived across the canal one year when I was at Carleton, with a view overlooking Moody's Bay. That is also the area where the first members of my family settled when they came to Canada.

dr, through me you do have a Bacon number to Vincent Massey (can't do Raymond sorry). My grandfather met him when he was High Commissioner in London just before the war, summer of 39.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 26, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

The Buddy Holly Story is on right now. We've also seen La Bamba. Did they ever make a biopic about The Big Bopper?

Posted by: -TBG- | January 26, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Don't think I did well enough on the Jeopardy quiz to make the next round, but 'Glee' was one of the answers. Watching TV does pay off, but I would have done better to have read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

How'd you do, yello?

I just took the quiz too.

I had an easier this time than last year, but my brain still froze on some stuff I should have known.

I wish they gave you your score.

Posted by: Moose13 | January 26, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I see I BOO'd.

Posted by: Moose13 | January 26, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Interesting news from here about Maj. Nidal Hasan:

Fort Hood heroes to attend State of the Union address. Interesting choice of individuals, given what we now know about Hasan's connections to U.S. Muslim cleric Anwar al Alwaki, now in Yemen:

The man who tried trickery recently to get into Hasan's hospital room? Apparently, off his meds.

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

So sad.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 26, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reminder about Jeopardy. I have read the tutorials and registered. I'm sure I won't do very well. Times for non-East-coasters (or those who missed it):

Wednesday, January 27 at 8pm CT / 7pm MT

Pacific Coast (including Alaska and Hawaii):
Thursday, January 28 at 8pm PT

Posted by: seasea1 | January 26, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Don't spill the beans on the Jeopardy test. I had to miss it tonight, so I'm still hoping for the next two opportunities.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

New article from the boss:

Posted by: seasea1 | January 26, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Damn good column!! (I expect it will be a new kit any time now.)

(But Joel, those book title grafs are driving me crazy. They all need to be ended by semicolons, except the last, which needs a period.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 26, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

loomis, I do not understand what benefit you are bringing to your situation by making public details of personal issues you may have with your husband - medical or otherwise - by putting them into the Achenblog comments, and by extension, the Washington Post.


Posted by: -bc- | January 26, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

OTOH - Spill the beans, please! (Off to wiki To Kill a Mockingbird)

Posted by: seasea1 | January 26, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Although, surely the Jeopardy tests are unique in each time zone...otherwise someone could capture the questions and pass them on, no?

Posted by: seasea1 | January 26, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

From Joel's article: "According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 55 percent of Americans want Congress to suspend work on the current health-care bills and start over."

Doesn't that mean that 55% of Americans think it would be better to have no health care reform at all than to have the imperfect version that is in bill form right now? Because there is no way that the Republican minority is willing to do a blessed thing that might improve or pass health care reform or in any other way suggest competence or success on the part of the Obama Administration. The fact is, the present bill is the best first draft you're gonna get. Make it an established part of the political landscape, and then you can make it better. Instead, we have bupkis (sp?) and "starting over" will just give us more bupkis. Unless there is a radical change in the Republican party such that they start to participate in governance rather than trying to hobble the Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, there is absolutely no way that any Republican will vote in favor of HCR under Obama, no matter how wonderfully it may be formulated. In fact, I suspect they would be more willing to vote for it if they believed it to be genuinely bad, because it would increase the chances of public revolt against the current party.

And who do we have to blame for this pathetic state of affairs? Don't bother blaming the Republicans -- their scorched-Earth policy has been clear all along. It should have been formulated and passed while the Dems still held a filibuster-proof minority. Blame the guys in the Senate who needed to be bribed by their own party before they would do a solid for their constituents. Blame the left, who have been shouting down the policy that would have given half a loaf to the millions, because it didn't flatter their vanity in thinking they could get the whole loaf. Blame the House Dems, who would rather see failure than a partial success.

I'm really feeling a tad disgusted right now.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 26, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, there's big trubs in Pennsylvania: all the bats are dying.

Posted on Tue, Jan. 26, 2010

Solving the mystery of the dying bats

By Sandy Bauers
Inquirer Staff Writer

Deep in a cave in Mifflin County, Pa., surrounded by icicles and tilted slabs of rock, DeeAnn Reeder shone her headlamp on a tiny bat.

It was dead.

Cradling it in gloved hands, she stretched out its wings, fanned out its minuscule toes, and examined its snout.

"I've seen worse," Reeder whispered, "but, boy . . . he's just covered in fungus."

The Bucknell biology professor studied the bat. She knew it was white-nose syndrome, first discovered three years ago in a cave near Albany, N.Y. Bats that should have been hibernating inside were dead on the ground outside.

Since then, a million bats have died in the Northeast. Some caves have had 99 percent mortality.

In a growing what-done-it mystery, white-nose spread last year to Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The latest models predict the little brown bat, the most numerous in the nation, could be extinct in 7 to 30 years.

"That's incredibly fast," said Greg Turner, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's endangered-mammal specialist. " Unprecedented is the word."

---and there's a lot more.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | January 26, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

SighTim, I hear you.

Somehow this is becoming clearer:

bupkis = nothing SOMEHOW connected to
butt, kissing (which is not happening enough on the Hill perhaps?) which SOMEHOW reminds me of that notion that when end times come, one should simply and stretch-ily, bend over and butt, kiss in a solo attempt at something fraught with meaning.

Now, health problems and insurance lack or lapses ushers in the feeling of end times.

Tis late, and I am sure my mapping of this leaves something to be desired....but, here it is.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 26, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, sigh, in another way. Somebody ready the fainting couch and smelling salts for M, our bat girl.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 26, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, sausage making is ugly, and had there been true transparency as promised (rather than closed door meetings for HCR), I suppose the sausage making would be even uglier. But at least the American peple would have a very good knowledge or understanding of *exactly* what transpired.

I think of the Louisiana Purchase, and by that I don't mean the deal that Jefferson cut with Napoleon after yellow fever cut down about 23,000 French troops in Haiti attempting to put down the slave rebellion, forcing the little emperor to lose interest in his holdings across the Atlantic.

Husband put in a full day today and is back in the salt mines at 9 p.m., for an hour's work tonight. The "issue" I have is the fact that my husband works too many hours. The instances of forgetfulness may not be early Alzheimers, but simply that he has so much on his mind, his plate, and is exhausted most of the time. My fear is that the company is working him to the bone, he won't speak up, and when all the systems are merged, they'll drop him like a hot potato.

Men compartmentalize so much of the time, why would there be any understanding? So I have a cut foot, he goes to the store for hearing aid batteries, and brings home tapioca, thinking that will solve the real issue? *disgusted snort*

Posted by: laloomis | January 26, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

My brother bought a b&w TV for my mother in the late 1960s. He specifically mentioned that it was for my mother because my father preferred reading newspaper and studying dictionaries than watching TV. My elder sister and I (By then we were the only ones living at home with my parents) were supposed to be studying for exams and not allowed to watch TV.

After 10 years, that b&w started to “snow” a lot so I replaced it with a colour one. With a new TV and a refrigerator I bought on credit, I had a feeling of my family’s social standing been upgraded. Never mind the fact that my father and I had very little money in the bank.

Posted by: rainforest1 | January 27, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. It was a long time before we owned a black and white television, and I don't remember a color one at all. We loved that TV because we got a chance to see the cartoons, and the Lone Ranger. Our neighbor used to come over and watch the Lone Ranger. She was in love.

Can you imagine going to the doctor with a first grader in tow? That was me yesterday. Yesterday was really weird. The nurse placed me in a room, and another lady was sitting on the exam table. The nurse starts asking me all these questions, and I'm wondering why that lady is sitting there. She doesn't say anything, just sits. Finally when the nurse had finished her questions, she says something to the lady sitting there. Oops!, the nurse made a boo-boo. The nurse thought the lady was with me! Why would she think that? I had the first-grader with me, and she has a red flute(that I bought). I have more than enough to keep me busy.

They finally got that poor woman where she was suppose to be, and a grandmother already on the edge, was in need of tranquilizers by then. Of course, every now and then, one hears the sound of that red flute. And a serious desire to kick myself overcomes me, only thing lacking is the ability.

The test results show severe arthritis(sp). Treatment options, epidural steriod injections and crutches. The doctor explained those raggedy bones have a choke hold on the nerves. I am thankful, although I know this will limit my movements. I'm already trying to figure out today, busy Wednesday. I have to include time for lessons with the crutches.

And an exam would not be finished until the doctor says what they all say, lose weight. In my case, it's called for. She does this with a balm, she knows it's hard, and this from a skinny person. I want to ask, how do you know, but don't.

Slyness, you and RD hit the nail on the head in the email. Big time. My problem too. Thanks, Slyness.

Mudge, Yoki, Scotty, Martooni, Lindaloo, and everyone here, thanks a bunch for the good wishes and your concern. Your friendship means a lot to me. Have a wonderful day, and I'll check in later after the lessons with the crutches. That should make interestsing reading.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 27, 2010 5:12 AM | Report abuse

When I was a student at Texas Tech in the early 60's, it was a surprise to learn that Lubbock has the most color televisions per population in the USA. It seemed that the area had a local oil boom and most of the farmers in range were "thousandaires." Those who could would retire to Lubbock and buy a color television.

When I saw one I realized that it was the first experience in a home that was like watching a film in a theater. But my wide screen Samsung is just one more step in that process of having a theater in the home.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | January 27, 2010 5:34 AM | Report abuse

That exam room snafu sure sounds frustrating. While having a five or six year old in tow is frustrating, it is probably good for them to see the process.

I am so sorry about your diagnosis. That is a lot of pain and it doesn't seem there is much they can do. People hear 'arthritis' and don't realize how crippling it can be. Good luck with what the doctors.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

So, making (very) public your issues with your husband's business and - disgust? - with his unbidden purchase of tapioca helps?

I don't think that your personal relationships are any of my business.

I'm just a man. Clearly, I don't understand.


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2010 6:26 AM | Report abuse

and that's okay, bc, being a man, have a wonderful day.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 27, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, yello. The first-grader wasn't there for a lesson. Mom and dad had an appointment, and there was no one to meet the bus, so grandma got the job. I'm hanging in there, and you're so right, the pain is something awful. I don't know about the crutches. I need them, but can I handle them, that's the question. Not happy about the other thing either.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 27, 2010 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I had to re-read your post to take it all in.

I'm glad you went to the doc, as difficult as it was.

And I sincerely hope the treatments you undergo help relieve your pain and make your life better.

The world needs you able to move around, spreading your goodness everywhere, lady.

Have a great day.


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'll be praying that crutches are a good answer for you. And for the weight thing. Yep, I am more than aware how hard it is.

Busy day for me also, I need to get started. But there are warm ham and cheese croissants on the ready room table, so enjoy, folks.

Posted by: slyness | January 27, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I sincerely hope the doctor's office does a better job in overseeing your treatment than they did in assigning you an exam room! :-O

The office is short-staffed today, but at least it's Hump Day! And some folks in the building are holding a bake sale for Haiti relief funds, so I think I'll need an extra hour in the gym today... :-)

*wandering-off-for-more-coffee Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Life is a lesson. Your grand-daughter is very lucky to have such a devoted care-giver.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 27, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Oh yes, quite the apropo article, JA -- everyone's against everything, apparently. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

New Kit, of course...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

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