Recently, I was sent through the courtesy of the folks at TV Guide magazine-the publication that’s been reporting on the elements known as “television” for the past sixty-five years (as well as letting those reader know what’s on the tube that week), their current issue. In this case, it’s the issue covering the period of October 15th-28th. (Monday through Sunday). It’s been a very long time since I had an opportunity to glance at a recent issue, so I took the advantage of thumbing through this copy that sported on its cover, the cast (or as the headline read, “The Boys”) of the series Supernatural (one of two covers) featuring the likeness of Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins. The two covers available consisted of these three with smiles on their face, or with the same trio with stern looks on their faces shot in half light. The former cover appeared to have this show resemble a sit-com, and the latter cover (the one I received) gives an illusion of a series that was sobering and serious with a hint of being eerie and mysterious.
I was interested in reviewing this magazine series as this was one of many titles I was first exposed to back in the era when magazines did robust business. My folks never subscribed to this magazine as they throught the “tv guides” that were enclosed in the Sunday paper was good enough for them! Although they carried the same program listings, those free editions didn’t feature the same articles as the “real” TV Guide did!
An aunt of mine subscribed to this magazine. Whenever my family would visit my aunt along with my uncle and cousin, I would scope out this magazine, looking at the pictures that were inside this little magazine that was the size of Reader’s Digest, as well as the splashy cover! (The first cover I recall seeing at my aunt’s place was the cover featuring Barbara Feldon (Agent 99 on the sitcom “Get Smart”) as created by Andy Warhol.) Although I didn’t much care for the listings of what was on the seven channels that existed at the time, I was caught by the illusions this magazine offered.
Over time, I learned that the edition I would always see was the local version. The program listings featured the local stations broadcasting in the area the magazine circulated, although the articles and other bits found in its first half and second half were all the same. (The listings were found in the middle of the mag!) I learned this fact when I would go on family vacations. As for my souvenir to the area(s) visited, I would get the local edition so I can see what TV was like in an area I didn’t live in! (Those stories of collecting TV Guides as vacation souvenirs can be found in Vol. 23-Nos. 33 and 34 of this news service!)
I was so interested in this little magazine, I decided to have my own subscription! So using my own money that I have earned through allowances, birthday gifts, and other sources, I had my mom make out a check payable for a year’s subscription to TV Guide, and to send that check to “TV Guide Subscriptions, Randor, PA. 19087”.
After sending that check through the mail and waiting around for six weeks, my first issue arrived! On its cover was a cartoon likeness of Charlie Brown’s face on a TV set, with Snoopy and Woodstock laughing at it. (Drawn by Charles Schultz!)
That was TV Guide then, a little magazine that measured 5” x 7 1/2” in size, had around 130 + pages (including the local listing section) and sold for 15 cents. (Today’s issues measures 9 1/2” x 6”, has around 84 pages–covers don’t count–and has a price of $4.99 as noted on its cover.)
What’s inside those covers is pretty much the same elements of TV Guide of my youth. There are feature stories on entertainment programs available, this time not limited by the networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. Cable becomes part of TV Guide’s listing since the 1980’s, and now it’s the streaming services that share space, although they are not posted on the program grids that are found in each issue as a streaming program can be seen whenever the viewer desires to see the program.
But one thing I did notice that was really never part of TV Guide from my day. It was the advertisements that were in each issue that wasn’t about a specific program or video series.
Using the issue I had in hand, I make a brief inventory to what was being advertised, and found a rather common thread to the products being sold in this edition. I’ll run it through here.
The ads sported were for ThermaCare pain relieving cream, a Phillips SimplyGo Mini portable oxygen device, a number of ads of goods sold through The Brandford Exchange that sold jewelry and what’s best described as “knickknacks”, Kraft brand shredded cheese that could be used on tacos, a Life Alert emergency device made by the same company that made the phrase “I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up” famous, Omaha Steaks, the mail order steak company, MD Hearing Aids, a chair calling itself “The Perfect Sleep Chair” a Lay-Z-Boy-esque lounge chair, a shoe that offered warmth and comfort, a seat cushion that helps relieve pain when sitting where its special shape resembles a toilet seat (it’s not a toilet seat–it just looks that way), a mail order tool firm, and cell phones from Greatcall that sells the Jitterbug line of flip and smartphones featuring a “new and improved simplified menu”, among other notions that are normally considered as givens to any smart phone. (Battery, texting, built-in camera, etc.). Rounding out this collection of ads were for P&G’s Always pads to prevent bladder leaks.
Seeing these ads and what was being advertised gave me the illusion that these products (perhaps with the exception of the shredded cheese), cater to a specific demographic. And that demographic would be anyone over a certain age, perhaps 60 and up–the same demographic that can still recall when TV sets sported screens that were 23” and less, used an areal to pick up signals, and offered TV programming that was available for the most part, free!
So I ask myself “What happened to TV Guide? Did it get old? Perhaps too old??”
This question of wonder will be answered in the next edition of this here newsletter. As they would say on the soap operas–tune in tomorrow!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Son of Semele Ensemble presents Maureen Huskey’s THE WOMAN WHO WENT TO SPACE AS A MAN, an experimental play with music that tells upon the double life of Alice B. Sheldon, a woman of means that had a career in middle life writing well respected science fictions tales under a nom de plume.
Betsy Moore portrays Alice B. Sheldon. Born in 1915, she was raised within a well-to-do family setting. As a young child, she and her parents went on hunting excursions in Africa, even being called by the media as the first white child ever seen by the pigmey tribes. She entered adulthood as a young debutante through her “coming out” event. She married the first man she met at her “debut”, resulting in a rocky marriage and a later divorce. She joined the Army during WWII becoming a lieutenant through Army Intelligence and later through the CIA. She married a fellow army officer, Col. Huntington “Ting” Sheldon. Although she had military intelligence experience as well as a pedigree through her family’s wealth and status, she embarked in yet another career of choice, writing science fiction tales starting at the age of fifty. What makes this choice unique that she wrote under the alias of James Tiptree, Jr. For most of her writing career, she was known to be a male writer of science fiction that received the honor and respect through her fans and peers. However, very few became aware of the fact that James was in reality, Alice!
This singe act play, written and directed by Maureen Huskey, pictures a woman of means that had lived a life in her first phase by experiencing more that what other people would never reach, later shifting gears to create tales to astonish just to satisfy her public just because that same public would never take a female writer seriously–or at least not during the golden and silver age of pulp fiction where writers of sci-fi were usually categorized as creators of short stories that were published in anthology digest magazines found on street corner newsstands. This performance as seen on the Son of Semele stage is not told in a linear fashion, but more of an experimental method, using an ensemble cast that focuses on her character from young girl to young adult. It also portrays her many phases of her life cycle, living in a “man’s world” that would be her first step in writing in a so-called “masculine” style while earning many honors and prestige.
This show is also a play with music, not necessarily as a traditional “musical” where cast members breaks out in song and dance numbers. The music score by Yuval Ron with lyrics by the playwright, is a blend of a post-modern hymn with a sense of rhythmic chant through Richard An’s transcribed musical direction. The songs themselves are not the type one could hum along to. It’s more manifested as a audible illustration to the notion of being a woman who was a man. The play also shows that Alice had episodes of lesbianism in her early life and thus, gave the switch of showing an identify of a man and a woman, yet not at the same time!
The cast that appear in this production consists of Anneliese Euler as Mary Bradley, James Ferrero as James Tiptree, Jr., Emma Zakes Green as Tass, Isabella Ramacciotti as Little Alice, Paula Rebelo as Young Alice, Megan Rippey as Mira, Ashley Steed as Janice, Aliz Wells as Ting, with Kamer Elliot, Nathan Nonhof, and Robert Peterno as the ensemble.
Lena Sands provides the costume design, Eli Smith is the set designer, Martin Carrillo creates the sound design, and Rose Malone is the lighting director. These combined factors shows the experimental aspects to this story. Not necessarily in a science fiction mode, but it undertakes this practice of expression.
For generations, writing tales that speaks for futuristic worlds, demention travel, of scientific beings, as well as journeys through outer and inner space has been taken as the territories of a “man’s world”. But those moments came long before those of the female gender were as good (if not better) as their male counterpoints to create such tales that would be read by millions of readers. Thus, the title of this productions does say it all! Then again, a man may indeed write romantic novels as respected by those of the female species. But that switch would not be as amusing as through its polar opposite. One would rather “blast-off” than to live happily ever after. Or would they…?
THE WOMAN WHO WENT TO SPACE AS A MAN, presented by the Son of Semele Ensemble and performs at The Son of Semele Theatre, 3301 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, until November 18th. Showtimes are Tuesday nights at &;00 PM, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 5:00 PM. For tickets and for more information, call (818) 841-5422, or via online at http://www.SonOfSemele.org
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