Thursday, February 14, 2013

Television Time

Happy Valentines Day to all you lovers out there!

And now for the real post! :)

What are your favorite TV shows?  I have quite a few that I'm hooked on, much to my husband's chagrin.  And I try to get him to watch them all with me, to his even greater chagrin. :)  To his credit he does watch a few, and we enjoy discussing and analyzing them together.  The rest though, he leaves me to my own devices.

We spent 2011 with no TV because we decided we could no longer afford cable, even the most basic option.  So we canceled it and just relied on DVDs for our entertainment.  We found a few things we could watch online for free, but that wasn't the best option because we don't have a laptop (nor a fancy new TV that can hook up to the internet), so we'd have to get as comfortable as we could in chairs huddled around the computer desk.  Not fun for extended periods of time.  

For awhile, we enjoyed getting DVDs of old TV shows from our library, like All In The Family, Father Knows Best, and The Andy Griffith Show.  I even actually bought the first season of The Donna Reed Show, probably my favorite old TV show of all time.

Around this time last year, I got fed up with not being able to watch ANY programming on TV and bought an indoor antennae to hook up to our dual DVD/VCR player, which has a digital TV tuner in it.  We can't get a lot of channels, but what we can get has been a sanity-saver for me.  I'm sorry, but I LIKE television, and refuse to be made to feel guilty over it!  We can get three PBS channels, CBS, ABC, and FOX.  I'm sad that we can't get NBC because that's where all of the figure skating is shown, but I'm content with what we do have.  

We love PBS.  One show that we're hooked on is Downton Abbey.  It's total soap opera, but it's soap opera in gorgeous Edwardian clothes and decor.  

Other favorites on PBS are Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives, and Call The Midwife.

We really don't watch much of anything on CBS, except Wheel of Fortune.  Yeah, we're old nerds.  CBS is sort of crime-drama central, and neither of us enjoy that genre.

ABC though has a lot of our favorite shows.  We LOVE Once Upon A Time, The Middle, The Neighbors, Modern Family, and Nashville.   Well ok, I love Nashville.  Husband is usually in bed by the time it's on.  

We both enjoy Touch on Fox, as well.  I liked Fringe, too, but discovered it too late to be able to watch it in real time on TV.  By the time I was all caught up with the seasons on DVD, it had been canceled.  :(

There are quite a few cable shows that we like as well, but have to wait for them to come out on DVD to watch which makes waiting unbearable sometimes.  For me, anyway.  Can you tell yet that Husband is not quite the TV enthusiast as I am?  

Mad Men and Game of Thrones are two that come to mind that we devoured on DVD.  Literally, like watching a whole season in one weekend.  

I truly, truly, lament the loss of TCM when we canceled cable.  So many of those old movies aren't available on DVD nor can they be seen anywhere online.  As we were leading up to our cable cut off date in 2011, I was recording movies like a mad woman on our VCR.  Yeah, we still use our VCR.  No, we don't have a DVR.  Wanna make something of it?  :)  (we don't have cell phones either, but that's another blog post)

What are some of your favorite TV shows?  Or have you eschewed TV altogether?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mary Ingalls In The News

The other morning as I scanned the headlines on various internet news sites, I came across this:

"Doctors Explore Medical Mystery in Little House Books."

The Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW) geek in me began mentally jumping up and down.  Something LIW-related is making mainstream headlines?  How cool is that!?

The real Mary Ingalls, college years

Let me back up a bit.  Yes, I am a LIW geek.  All my life I've loved the Little House books, even re-read them as an adult on a regular basis.  I read biographies and essays about her real life, and belong to various online LIW communities that are devoted to discussing, analyzing, and nit-picking over everything to do with the books and the author's real life.

The real Laura Ingalls, around age 17

*Please note that I have not mentioned anything about the television show, Little House on the Prairie.....nor will I ever.  Enough said.  Ahem.*

So naturally, when I saw a news headline regarding her sister, Mary Ingalls, I was thrilled.

Basically, a med school student who read the books growing up became curious about what caused Mary's blindness.  If you've read the books you'll automatically say, "That's easy, scarlet fever caused it!"

Well, not really.  Those of us in the LIW community have known for years that scarlet fever was not to blame....basically because Laura herself, in her unpublished memoir Pioneer Girl, said so.  In that memoir, she said the doctors at the time diagnosed it as "brain fever" and that it had a long name she could no longer recall.  "Brain fever" was a catch all term in those days (circa 1879) used to define spinal meningitis.

Why then, did Laura say it was scarlet fever in the Little House books?

The book where Mary goes blind from "scarlet fever"

William Anderson, long-time LIW biographer and researcher, thinks she used scarlet fever as a literary device, since it is an illness readers of historical fiction are familiar with and readily associate with dire seriousness.

Carrie, Mary, and Laura as children.  There is HUGE debate in the LIW community on whether this photo was taken pre-or-post blindness for Mary.

Back to the article, this med student began researching everything she could find about Mary, using the unpublished memoir and actual local newspaper stories from the time to study the symptoms available to us, and determined that the most probable cause of her blindness was meningoencephalitis.

Meningoencephalitis is a "cousin" to the doctors back then were sort of right with their call, and meningoencephalitis fits the "long word Laura could no longer remember as an adult."  It's nice to have a real bonafide diagnosis, finally, after all these years of speculation.  Well, as bonafide as we can get 134 years after the fact.

Mary went on to the Iowa College For The Blind in Vinton, Iowa.  You can read about her years there here.  It's a fascinating read.....and no, Mary never married, you lovers of the TV show. :)

If you're interested in learning more about the real family behind the books, check out these sites: