Netflix & Chili

EASY KIDS. IT'S NOT A TYPO. It’s the 60-something’s version of a good way to spend a winter’s eve. I have a wonderful chili recipe by the way. I’ve actually won a couple of chili cookoffs with it—I would be happy to share. The secret ingredient is cocoa powder.


There is nothing better (for supper) on cold night than a steamy bowl of chili. Sometimes I like it with spaghetti and a few crackers crumbled in the bowl. Sometimes I like it over Fritos® with chopped onion and a squirt of mustard.

So the fire is going in the fireplace, the chili is ready, now what to watch. I have been so looking forward to the new show featuring David Letterman. It didn’t disappoint. It’s called, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. It’s a long-form, sit-down interview show and in my opinion, no one does that better than Letterman. 


The guest and the content of this first episode I found to be poignant, smart, and timely—for a number of reasons. With Letterman fairly recently “retired”, and his guest recently “retired”, and me peering in to retirement, I found something in the discussion you might not. But don’t be dissuaded. It’s well worth the time.

My next recommendation isn’t on Netflix, but then, whether you’re “Netflix and chilling” or watching Netflix while enjoying chili, it’s really not just about the Netflix is it now?

This one is on Amazon. I had first noticed ads for it and then when it won a couple of Golden Globe awards, I read the premise and decided it was worth a look. Let me say right up front, many might find the language objectionable. It’s right up there with stuff you could hear on a visit to the Oval Office or listening to a postgame interview with Carmello Anthony.

The series is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It’s set in New York City in the 50s. They call it a comedy-drama. Normally I would say you can’t have it both ways, but this one is indeed both very funny in really smart ways and an interesting story, dramatically. The series follows a housewife who discovers she has a knack for stand-up comedy.


The lead character, Midge Maisel played by Rachel Brosnahan is wonderful. My favorites though are Midge’s parents Abe and Rose Weissman, played by Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle. I do fear though that I cold be too much like Abe Weissman in a not so good way; if I were a Jewish math professor.

Did I mention the language is rated R? If frequent use of sailor-speak and chili give you heartburn. I highly recommend you choose instead watching The Crown on Netflix with a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Or, you could just chill.

Too Much Reality

Occasionally we had vertical hold issues at our house. If you grew up in 50s and 60s as I did, the Reality of television was that it was quirky, not only problems with vertical hold, but horizontal hold too. There were little knobs you could twist that helped sometimes to slow the roll of the image on the screen. Soon or later though, the man of the house would take the pegboard cover off the back of the TV set, jerk the tubes out, and take them to the Humpty Dumpty, Piggly Wiggly, or Snap-E-Sak to “test” them. Inevitably they would have gone “bad”. Hopefully we could get the new tubes and get them inserted before “Leave It To Beaver” came on.

Sometimes the problem was a fuzzy or snowy picture. Usually a twist of the rabbit ears would fix these issues. Sometimes drastic measures were called for. More aluminum foil had to be added to the telescopic ears. As I said; that was our television reality, if not reality television.

While I’m not an avid fisherman, I do enjoy wetting a worm or flinging a fly. Especially fly-fishing, standing in a cool stream hoping to outsmart a trout. I have a friend who makes regular trips to Alaska to fish. When I see his pictures from those trips, I envy the manliness of it all. I suppose if I were to go to Alaska to fish, I would hold in high regard the endorsements of Sarah Palin regarding a good fishing guide, places to go, bait to use, etc.

I remember as a kid fishing the waters of Lincoln, Union and Ouachita Parishs in northern Louisiana with my Uncle Steve and cousin Danny Roy. My Dad’s roots are there, down the road from the Robertson's of Duck Dynasty fame. It would be fun to go backand listen to the Robertson's tell stories of fishing and hunting there. I would love to hear them swap stories with Uncle Steve. When it comes to fishing or duck hunting I can’t think of any one’s advice I would respect more than that of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Robertson Dynasty.

If Phil and Sarah were ever to visit Oklahoma, and want my opinion, there are a few fishing/hunting resources I could recommend to them. Probably, if I were to give them a call to let them know who I might or might not be endorsing for President they would tell me they don’t give a duck’s quack or polar bear’s ass whom I’m considering. And, to be honest, the feeling’s mutual.

Back to reality TV. How in the world have we come to the point where the most cherished endorsements for presidential candidates come from cartoonish “reality” TV stars? I am completely at peace and entertained by the relatives of these celebrities being on “Dancing With The Stars”. But something’s not right here. Maybe we need some more foil on our rabbit ears or a new vertical hold tube.

If I were going to choose a “reality” TV star to trust for a presidential endorsement, it would probably be Dale Gribble. I know, I know. Dale is just a cartoon neighbor to Hank Hill, but he is just as passionate about his worldview as are the other “reality” TV stars: Phil, Sarah and The Donald. And while Ted Cruz doesn’t have his own show, I have no doubt he would if given the opportunity. Show me a guy who will make a mockery of the U.S. Senate by standing on “the Senate Floor” for hours in a pretend filibuster, reading “Green Eggs & Ham”, and I will show you a guy begging for his own TV show.

Since Dale Gribble has not gone public with an endorsement, you might not be familiar with his views and opinions. Allow me to share a few gribbleisms:

“If all you’re goin’ on is my confession, forget it, I’m simply not credible.”
“That’s code for U.N. commissars telling Americans what temperature it’s gonna be in our outdoors. I say, let the world warm up! See what Boutros Boutros-By-Golly thinks about that! We’ll grow oranges in Alaska!”

“Guns don’t kill people. The government does!”
“If you want, I can teach you how to make a bomb out of a toilet paper roll and a stick of dynamite.”
“Whoa! Hold on, son! I want you to keep an open mind so you can make an informed decision! If you want, you can read a bloated government report on smoking, or go straight to the horse’s mouth and get the facts from the tobacco industry.”

“20 years. If your marriage was a murderer it would be out by now.”

“I’d like to live in your fairy-tale world, Hank, but the Fair Play For Cuba Committee is retro-fitting my mower to power Fidel’s one-man escape sub.”

“If you want to elect me, Dale Gribble, president of the Gun Club, running on the ‘Save-Your-Sorry-Ass’ platform, say aye.”

“They wanted to see me wet my pants from fear… but they’re too late!”

Amen Dale!

P.S. Maybe you’ve seen this image floating around the WWW (which of course means it could be true). Makes you wonder if Mr. Cruz has bigger heritage issues than just being born in Canada. Like Ricky used to say to Lucy back when TV wasn’t pretending to be “real”, “Someone’s got some splainin to do.”

candidate cruz and grandpa munster

candidate cruz and grandpa munster

Good Story

Thanks to all who played the game--you know the one in this post: And The Winner Is...

Several, who just by recognizing the typeface used in the titling of the show, correctly identified my pick for the Best TV Drama Ever. The type face is called FrizQuadrata and the show is Law & Order.



Now if you have a few minutes let me tell you why Law & Order (the original) is important; and the best ever. 

You could talk about its importance by citing things like: 

  • It's the longest-running crime drama on American primetime television. Its record of 20 seasons is a tie with Gunsmoke for the longest-running live-action scripted American prime-time series. Both series are surpassed only by the animated series The Simpsons (in its 25th season as of 2013).
  • It's the largest drama franchise with several spin-offs including the still running Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
  • It continues to have a strong syndication presence and is now on NetFlix®.
  • It has the coolest theme song and sound effects of any show ever. It's DONK, DONK sound effect on scene changes is iconic.

But to me, the real importance of Law & Order is that it is one of the very few examples we have of superb writing, character development, relevance, and excellent acting. How did they do it week after week for 20 years?

It has all the elements of great story--something that is becoming extremely rare these days. Sadly! Not only do we not have good stories written for TV and film, but it seems like we are as humans living mostly boring stories.

One of my favorite is books is by Robert McKee called "Story."  Robert McKee teaches writers in sold-out audiences around the world. He himself has written numerous TV and feature film scripts. His "Story" class is considered the ultimate class for screenwriters and filmmakers.

In his book, he talks about the demise of good stories. He gives several causes and then writes:

"The final cause for the decline of story runs very deep. Values, the positive/negative charges of life, are at the soul of our art. The writer shapes story around a perception of what's worth living for, what's worth dying for, what's foolish to pursue, the meaning of justice, truth--the essential values. In decades past, writer and society more or less agreed on those questions, but more and more ours has become an age of moral and ethical cynicism, relativism, and subjectivism--a great confusion of values. As the family disintegrates and sexual antagonisms rise, who, for example, feels he understands the nature of love? And how, if you do have a conviction, do you express it to an ever-more skeptical audience?
"This erosion of values has brought with it a corresponding erosion of story. Unlike writers in the past, we can assume nothing. First we must dig deeply into life to uncover new insights, new refinements of value and meaning, then create a story vehicle that expresses our interpretation to an increasingly agnostic world. No small task."

That, dear friends, is not just good advice for writing good story. It's vital to living a good story.