About My Blog.

Welcome! This is "Catatonic Digressions."
Most, if not all readers don't understand my blog's title. It's an old inside joke from a forum long gone. I was going to change it, but since it's been "confusing" for so long, I decided to leave it. Don't worry about what it means, the content of the blog is what is important.

Unfortunately, my blog isn't what I set out for it to be. A disturbed and manic online stalker and cyberbully has made it impossible for me to post about family, my son, life in my part of New York...so I stopped (for the most part), and I mostly reblog and repost what I feel is important, necessary or close to my heart. As for the stalking sociopath, she can go to hell for harassing me and my family since mid-2008. You can't scare me offline with a few lame threats and dozens of pages of defamation, abuse, depravity and libel. I'm bitchy like that. ;)
(Anyone who knows me knows I'm not actually a bitch, but let's allow this psychopath to think I'm a bitch to her blackened heart's content—it seems to make her feel she has some sort of control over me…and it does not.)

If you read a story and you feel moved in any way, comment. Comments are more than welcome.

Unlike those online who lie and hide behind fake photos and insanely fabricated stories, I'm a real person. I'm real and I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. After years of putting up with online abuse by manipulative, pathological liars, attention whores or narcissists, I've had it. Don't bother me with pathetic drama. I have no time for these types of people and their need to absorb others' time and attention.

Feel free to email me if you have a story or cause you would like shared, especially if it pertains to animal rights, liberation, veganism, animal welfare, health and well-being, geekery, Macs and computer dorkiness, music, lowbrow art, kitchy stuff, skateboards, the beach, swimming, diving, NYC, beading (it's my hobby), recipes (love to cook, especially if I made the recipe up myself!), VEGAN!, ALF, Sea Shepherd, Action for Animals, NIO, 269Life and/or anything you think I might enjoy or others might—you never know. It doesn't always have to be serious. Hilarious stories, local NY, funny videos or photos, photobombs (especially if they contain pets!)...I might be partially censored, but I'm not closed down!

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For the Oceans,
Suzanne

Saturday, February 07, 2009

“Hey, you guyyyyys!” The Electric Company

I've been sick all week (very high fever, chills, bad coughing, stuffed head, etc.), and my father is back in the hospital because even though his lung cancer tumor shrunk, which is great news, the brain tumor grew a microscopic bit, enough to cause a seizure. The seizure won't stop until they can do something about the tumor. We won't know what they decide until Monday, so until then, I just have to try to get myself better so I can visit him, and keep my mind busy.

I wanted to write about The Electric Company this week, but haven't had time. I'll add my own writing to thing blog entry when everything settles down. 

For the lurkers who are stalking for The Improper Adoptee: YES, cancer can spread in any direction. Don't believe a pathological liar. She keeps insisting my father doesn't have cancer because she says cancer doesn't spread UP. When Marilyn Mcaboy, who cannot even spell or use proper grammar, produces her medical licence, then believe her nonsense. ALL of it, that is.

PBS Revives a Show That Shines a Light on Reading

By MICHAEL DAVIS
Published: May 12, 2008

Steady work has been scarce for actors in gorilla suits since “The Electric Company” went dark in 1977.

But all that changes this week as shooting begins in Washington Heights and the Lower East Side on an ambitious reboot of the PBS literacy series that turned on a generation of schoolchildren to the rudiments of reading. The first graduates of “Sesame Street” found in “The Electric Company” a companion piece that relied on pun-filled sketches, Spider-Man cameos, and lots of primate shtick, all backed by a Motown beat.

Refitted for the age of hip-hop and informed by decades of further educational research on reading, the 2009 version of “The Electric Company” is a weekly, more danceable version of its former daily self. The series, which is expected to make its debut in January, faces challenges the original never did (trying to stand out amid so much children’s programming and to shake the stigma of educational television) as well as familiar ones (trying to make reading a positive experience for youngsters).

“It’s the old one mixed with ‘High School Musical’ and a Dr Pepper commercial,” said Linda Simensky, senior director of programming for PBS Kids, a block of children’s shows that will include “The Electricity Company.” There’s a touch of “Fame” to it, given its cast of culturally diverse city kids who sing and dance, as well as nods to the original series. (A cameo has been offered to Rita Moreno, a regular on the original “Electric Company,” remembered for her show-opening exultation, “Hey, you guyyyyys!”)

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit media corporation formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop, will once again produce. As before, when the show began in 1971, it is still directed at viewers 6 to 9 years old.

Ms. Simensky, 44, said the rebirth would be happy news for the Garanimals generation. “ ‘The Electric Company’ was my favorite show in third grade, along with Bugs Bunny,” she said.

In keeping with the original show’s ties to theater (many in the cast, like Morgan Freeman, had stage backgrounds), the new head writer is a Tony-Award-nominated playwright and lyricist, Willie Reale, with experience in children’s theater (“A Year With Frog and Toad”).

In the first episode Mr. Reale establishes the show’s conceit: Somewhere in the big city lies a natural-foods diner that is headquarters to a not-so-secret society known as the Electric Company. The four semi-superheroes who meet there — Keith, Jessica, Lisa and Hector — have pledged not only to use their powers for good but also to eat sensible portions of healthy meals. The gang ranges in age from 13 to 20 and can scramble, recall, project and animate words in astounding ways.

Plotting nefariously is a clutch of comical misfits and poseurs known as the Pranksters. “They’re villains without being villainous,” said Scott Cameron, the show’s research director, “just neighborhood kids who cause chaos.”

The show will join an expanding lineup of reading-readiness shows on PBS Kids. It will differ from the original in that each episode will emphasize vocabulary from five “conceptual domains” (animals, the body, weather, ecosystems and the solar system) and tell a story in multiple acts, interspersed with splashes of animated and live-action lessons in phonics. As the last of the Pranksters was being cast in late April, taping had begun in a small studio near Lincoln Center in Manhattan on short segments. They will carry the show’s educational load, a curriculum forged over two years of research and testing. As has been done with previous Sesame Workshop series, “The Electric Company” will undergo extensive testing during production and after its first season’s 26 episodes have been broadcast.

Mr. Cameron and his associates searched for a format that would smoothly incorporate educational goals, the most challenging of which is to reverse negative attitudes about reading among children in second and third grades. Test audiences of low-income students in Baltimore, San Antonio and Carbondale, Ill., provided early indications that the series might be effective.

In the old, dull days of children’s TV “The Electric Company” shone brightly. But it remains to be seen whether a vigorous campaign to build awareness for the revival will cut through the clutter of diversions now available to children.

“Media has evolved and learning styles have evolved,” said Malore I. Brown, the project director, who as a child in Freeport, the Bahamas, picked up “The Electric Company” via a signal that drifted in from Miami. “We want to make this a 360-degree experience.” That includes an online component along with a magazine being developed by Marvel Comics. Sneak-peek video will begin appearing on PBS in September.

The Sesame Workshop hopes to raise $25 million for the project, $17.7 million of which has been provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting through the federal Department of Education. Twenty low-income, low-literacy pockets across the country will also be the focus of an extensive outreach program in the months leading to the show’s premiere.

“There will be billboards, bus ads, notices in their dollar stores, television and radio ads, all about the power of reading,” Randell M. Bynum, who is coordinating the outreach, said. “When the show comes on in January, these communities will have already been primed to the importance of reading and bombarded with resources.”

Ms. Bynum, along with the production team and cast members, has been testing strategies at P.S. 188 on Houston Street in the Lower East Side. A group of that school’s students in first through fourth grades recently screened a 30-minute demonstration of the series, which included a music-video tribute to the transformational power of the silent E, the sneaky letter that can turn cap into cape and at into ate.

Music for the series will come from three people involved in the Broadway rap-salsa-pop musical “In the Heights”: the director Thomas Kail, the co-arranger and orchestrator Bill Sherman and the actor Christopher Jackson.

In a category by himself is the beat-box artist Shockwave (Chris Sullivan). Besides slinging hash at the Electric Diner, he speaks in one-word bursts only — no sentences — and appears in guises like the much missed gorilla and a butcher who cleaves words. But it is his D.J. routine that may be mimicked on playgrounds next year. He appears to be scratching syllables from dueling turntables to form words. It all emanates from his “bruh-bruh-AIN, bruh-bruh-AIN, brain.”

The producers said that they hoped the show would help head off a vexing problem: the wall that struggling students hit in fourth grade, the turning point at which school is no longer about learning to read, but reading to learn. As it was for the first incarnation of “The Electric Company,” the target audience this time is the economically disadvantaged child.

“Lower-income kids are already behind the eight ball by the time they reach kindergarten,” said Karen Fowler, the show’s executive producer. “By second grade language is flying by them, and they have no reference for it. That’s devastating.”

It’s a familiar refrain to Joan Ganz Cooney, the 78-year-old chairwoman of the executive committee of Sesame Workshop’s board who, along with Lloyd Morrisett, led development of the first incarnation of “The Electric Company.” After she previewed the new version, she said in an interview, she told the producers, “Make it funnier.”

Ms. Fowler happily obliged. “We saw that we needed to be sillier at the 8-year-old level,” she said. “Bring on the pratfalls.”


From The New York Times on the Web © The New York Times Company.

(I have to finish this at a time when I'm not feverish!)

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