There is a restaurant I have breakfast at every so often which seems to believes that my Eggs Benedict goes down better with the braying of long-dead rock stars playing overhead. I sometimes feel as if they should sometimes bring a shawl out with my coffee and lay it over my shoulders, so I don’t get too cold as I east.

I have complained (yes, really – I have witnesses) about the music on occasion to the wait staff, the majority of whom tell me that they, too, wish other music would be played.

I also complain when Fox News is on the TV in some restaurants, too – guess how far that gets me.

It’s not like anyone around me is actually groovin’ out to the music; it’s just sort of “comfort music” I suppose.


I’m not knocking the music of the past here; if someone were to break into my home and steal my CD collection they’d find a fair collection of music from the Olden Days, but at times it seems as though our society has moved into a sort of intellectual mausoleum.

Nostalgia not only runs our lives, it also ruins our lives.

Talent competitions on TV force young people to perform songs from days-gone-by, instead of songs of their own choosing. Networks fall all over themselves to “re-imagine” programs from the past.

For every bit of brilliance like Battlestar Galactica, we have a DOA like Charlie’s Angels.

Oddly enough, there are those among us who hate the new Galactica; the 1970s version, with its pretty lights and horrendously bad writing, is much more their cup of tea.

And radio stations? With the rare exception, the biggest stations offer the “best from the 70s, 80s and the 90s.”


Our lives have become audio versions of Turner Classic Movies.


American Gothic: Better the myth than the reality

Sometimes there are series that only last a handful of episodes, and yet their stories are sung around the campfires of the faithful as long there are cold winter nights, and the young need to be reminded that true horror can still exist on American television – besides having to be a guest on the Bill O’Reilly show, that is.

American Gothic was a short-lived series that ran on CBS (1995-96), that has built up a terrific reputation over the years, both deserved and undeserved.

Created by Shawn Cassidy of The Hardy Boys fame, and produced by Sam Raimi (Spider-man) it was the story of orphan Caleb Temple (Lucas Black The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), and his relationship with town sheriff Lucas Buck (Gary Cole – Midnight Caller, ), who may or may not be the boy’s father, and who may be the Devil.

Throughout 22 episodes, Sheriff Buck attempted to not only adopt Caleb (for he might actually be his father) but also corrupt the young boy, and truly make him his own. And truth be told, to a certain extent he was successful. Of course, it isn’t just young Caleb that Buck wants to corrupt; he’s out to seduce and tempt the entire damned town.

And a truly damned town it is, my friends.

I only watched a couple of episodes when it originally aired, though many friends have told me about the series over the years. Rummaging through the racks at the local Hastings last year, I decided to see what all the hoopla was about.


The fictional world of Trinity, South Carolina, is the reason that most people should stick to the Interstate, and not take the road less traveled. Because in this case, the road leads straight into a gothic hell, where, even if Lucas Buck didn’t have satanic powers, he’s still the sort of small-town lawman who rules with an iron fist.

And if you mess with him, you get messed with back.

Buck’s attempts to corrupt the young boy are continually being blocked by Caleb’s sister, Merlyn, who was murdered by the good sheriff. Now a ghost, she also appeals to the boy’s conscience, though her job is harder as the series goes on.

Another potential force for good in Caleb’s life is his cousin, Gail Emory, though she drifts into an affair with Lucas Buck which makes absolutely so sense at all, given that she openly despises him and wants to rescue Lucas from him. Also trying to help is Doctor Crower (Jake Weber – Medium), but his character is disposed off midway through the season.

Though I prefer watching DVD collections to watching series on network television, you have to understand a few things going in. Series are meant to watched once a week; when you watch two or three episodes a week, their flaws begin to show up in ways that you can’t ignore.

And in a series which only ran one season, and switched direction drastically half-way through, those flaws are close to impossible to ignore.

Characters are not consistent from one episode to another, and plot lines are developed that seem to be dropped altogether. When you get to the third DVD in the set you discover why this is so – a number of episodes were never actually shown, but were added to the DVD collection. How nice it would have been the shows had been put in the order they were meant to be watched in, rather than the order they were shown in. The series would make a lot more sense to the casual viewer.

But even if the episodes were seen in the proper order, the truth is that the series seems to fall apart near the end of its run. New writers seemed to come on board who seemed to have no feel for the characters, or even what had happened before.

It felt as though they were re-inventing the series half-way through its first season. As a result, the last half of the season is a terrible mishmash of stories. But even as floundering as the final episodes were, they ere almost always saved by the tag-team of Gary Cole and Lucas Black, who never deliver anything less than excellent work.

My advice: If you do buy American Gothic, just watch the first DVD in the collection. You’ll be happier that way.

Trivia note: Even though American DVD buyers have to watch the episodes and try figure out what goes where, German purchasers were able to buy the collection as they were meant to be watched, with the episodes assembled in the right order.


Quote of the Day

No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself. – Thomas Mann