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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for March, 2006

March 2006 in Black Lamb

Volume 4, Number 3 — March 2006

March 1st, 2006

READ THIS ENTIRE ISSUE IN THE ENTRIES BELOW

The All-Television Issue

In our cover story Terry Ross revisits the TV classics of the Fifties and early Sixties and wonders if things have improved. In our page 2 feature, Television Knows Best, Gene Ryder muses on the vicarious nature of television. Gillian Wilce (Love It or Hate It) is thankful for the riches television can occasionally bring us. Dan Peterson details his own hilarious TV career in Reality and Me. In Grab the Antenna and Stand Over There, Ed Goldberg maintains that “there are 500 channels and nothing on.”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue | Link to this Entry

The All-Television Issue

Was there (is there) a Golden Age for the Tube?

March 1st, 2006

BY TERRY ROSS

A few months ago, in late autumn, when I passed along to the Black Lamb contributors the subjects for the special themed issues of 2006, I received not a few queries, from both writers and subscribers, as to how these themes are chosen. The universal supposition seemed to be that I, as editor, selected the topics based entirely on my own interests. Nothing could be further from the truth.

television.jpgIn fact, the process of choosing the subject of, for example, this All-Television Issue, as well as all the other themed issues, is complex and communal. With a long list compiled from the suggestions of Black Lamb staff members and readers, a group of us sit around a table in the conference room at Black Lamb Towers, fortified by snacks and strong beverages, and thrash out the annual schedule of six subject-oriented issues. My own preferences play a small part in the decision-making, as do those of our Managing Editor, Owen Alexander, whose suggestions are often dismissed outright, for inscrutable reasons. Otherwise, Black Lamb readers could look forward to an All-Mineral Issue, an All-Insurance Issue, an All-Real Estate Issue, and an All-Socialism Issue. Similarly rejected, for several years running, although strongly espoused by contributors Greg Roberts and Bud Gardner, has been an All-Fly Fishing Issue. Interior Decorating, Vegetarianism, Social Work, The Stock Market, and Rock Music have met the same fate, despite their adherents. In the end, we come up with subjects that a majority of Black Lamb’s contributors might reasonably be expected to have something to say about.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Ross | Link to this Entry

Television knows best

But it was never meant to solve problems

March 1st, 2006

BY GENE RYDER

If you were born during the early days of television, then you were born into a time when the respective orbits of reality and fantasy were as far apart as they would ever be. Back in the Fifties, no one felt the need to point out the inherent deceit in Ozzie and Harriet, the violence in Looney Tunes, or the bloodiness of The American Sportsman. We were content to sit in front of the giant eye and let the phosphor glow do its work. Happiness is a warm tube.

It was not until the Sixties (a big, fat reality check if there ever was one) that someone ruined it for us all by suggesting that maybe sitting at the feet of an icon every evening like a supplicant wasn’t such a good thing. Maybe television really was sucking our brains dry, taking away the individuality, the singularity, and replacing it with a billion automatons. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was never the same after that.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Ryder | Link to this Entry

Love it or hate it

March 1st, 2006

singingdetective.jpgBY GILLIAN WILCE

Each week in the British satirical mag Private Eye, “Glenda Slagg” tackles some issue in the style of the worst kind of tabloid comment, her piece spattered with exclamations and question marks and always taking two opposed and incompatible points of view. Well, that’s pretty much how I’ve been thinking since the request came down the wire that we write about television this month. On the one hand, there’s the “Television, doncha love it?!!” article and, on the other, the equally possible “Television, doncha hate it?!!” article.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Wilce | Link to this Entry

Reality and me

March 1st, 2006

BY DAN PETERSON

This is the TV issue? Well, folks, I am a walking, talking head on TV in Italy. So big-headed have I become that I now have a “manager” for my TV work, the legendary Tony Toscano, with whom I have a hate-hate relationship. As a matter of fact, I am going to fire that SOB the very next time I speak with him. Why not? He is down for at least two attempts on my sanity and safety. Let me explain.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Peterson | Link to this Entry

Grab the antenna and stand over there

March 1st, 2006

thecontinental.jpgBY ED GOLDBERG

The Boob Tube. The Idiot Box. The Vast Wasteland. The Plug-in Drug.

All of these terms and more have been leveled at television and with justification. I’ll be surprised if one or more do not appear elsewhere in these pages. To say that ninety percent of everything on the tube is crap is to say nothing; ninety percent of everything is crap, except for poetry, where the number is more like ninety-six percent.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Goldberg | Link to this Entry

Dancing electrons

March 1st, 2006

BY ALAN ALBRIGHT

My father’s hobby was photography, his college major was art — and the next thing you know Dad found himself behind the camera filming commercials for the new postwar television industry. We grew up on Kookla, Fran and Ollie, Hopalong Cassidy, and the rest, with winks at Ipana toothpaste, Noxema, and Cover Girl. My sister and I sat in the Peanut Gallery, Dad got me a few jobs in the industry — and that was television for us.

“Stay away from it,” Zollie Vidor recommended. He was one of the star cameramen for MPO, the summer I spent working on set as a go-fer. “There’s too much money and it’ll wreck your life. Mine is a mess!”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Albright, All Television Issue | Link to this Entry

Golden age

March 1st, 2006

BY DAVID MACLAINE

One of the most bizarre TV moments of the 1990s was an appearance on Bill Maher’s late-night political talk show Politically Incorrect by comedian Chevy Chase. Chase, who became a household name in the 1970s on Saturday Night Live, left the show early on (a departure unlamented by his colleagues which made possible the launching of replacement Bill Murray’s career) and went on to a film career whose central body of work was the National Lampoon Vacation series. Among his fellow panelists was Steve Bochco, best known as the creator of two long-running police dramas with “blue” in the title. For reasons difficult to understand, Chase used this television appearance to launch a surly attack upon the medium itself. After a while Chase admitted that he didn’t really watch TV, a common affliction of anti-TV zealots, and when reminded of the dimwitted films he had made, defended them as harmless family entertainment. What was intrinsically harmful about television he was unable to make clear, although he acted as though it was a damaging admission on Bochco’s part when he acknowledged that his introduction of occasional partial nudity to NYPD Blue had been worth a couple of ratings points.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Maclaine | Link to this Entry

Golden age redux

March 1st, 2006

BY GREG ROBERTS

What’s that you say — you don’t have TV? You think it’s a waste of time? Well, I can go you one better. I haven’t been in a goddamn library in six years. They are an even bigger waste. The time spent walking around the Sydney Sheldon novels, Deepak Chopra mind rot, and the ten-year-old Lonely Planet guides to Big Sur and Nepal can now be spent watching television and bettering oneself.

But you have to do TV right. The person who wastes every night watching bad movies is no better than the reader who burns through a hundred Perry Mason mysteries. They should both be sterilized before they spawn more of their ilk.

To do TV the right way you have to sign up for the big package: a hundred or more channels, including foreign languages, panel discussions, college lectures, string quartets, and nature shows about turtles nesting on the beaches of Costa Rica. The cost is ridiculously low, about seventy dollars a month. How many new books could you buy with that much money, two?

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Roberts | Link to this Entry

The dumbing down of Ferrandino

March 1st, 2006

tvcigarette.jpgBY ROD FERRANDINO

TV, telly, Boob Tube, television. It doesn’t matter what you call it; you smoke it, you get high. Oops, there I go again, mixing up Tee Vee with the other massive opiates. Some of that’s for another column. For present purposes I’ll confine myself to plumbing the intellectual depths of television programming vis-à-vis in re as per de facto development of a cerebral leprechaun, i.e. yours truly.

As well we know, he stated pompously, television is no more than junk food for the brain, a vapid, calorie-empty, sugar-laden waste of time, a cranial void, and unsuitable for anybody with even a double-digit I.Q.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Ferrandino | Link to this Entry

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