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Archive for the ‘television’ Category

On July 20, 1969, this four-year-old kid from small-town Iowa knew something was up when his Dad came home from work early one morning to watch television.  In fact, with a quick glance down the neighborhood street, I would have noticed lots of cars parked in the driveway – with everyone inside staring at their black and whites.

“Because of what you have done, the Heavens have become a part of man.”

The flight of Apollo 11 served as a rebirth in the United States in many ways. And my four-year-old eyes watched not really knowing what I was seeing, but impressed that my Dad – who ran his own business and worked long arduous hours to keep it going – took time from his morning to watch TV. And we continued to watch for the next three days – whenever the networks fed us NASA’s grainy footage of the astronauts doing their business out in space. The first-ever landing on the Moon. Listening as Neil Armstrong voiced to the world his impressions as he stepped of the lunar module ladder onto the Moon’s surface. The Moon walks. The lift-off from the Moon and the splash landing.

It’s all very surreal, but there are images in my memory banks from 40 years ago and it’s something my kids read about without consideration to the sheer magnitude of what was happening. Six hundred million people on earth watched and read about those three days in the summer of ’69 and we’re still talking about it four decades later.

Without question, it was something else.

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Burn After Reading

Spoiler Alert:  This post has nothing to do with the Coen movie starring George Clooney and an all-star ensemble cast (although I plan to see that very movie sometime this weekend and will post a review following said viewing).

This post is about Mission Impossible, the TV series not the Tom Cruise movie series. Can you recall the theme song?

As a kid in the early ’70s, Peter Graves was the epitome of cool thanks to his stunts and acting prowess on Mission Impossible.  The series ran from 1966 – 1973 and captured that young male demographic with a frenzy, including me. There were many days when I would walk to elementary school humming that theme song. And who didn’t want to be Jim at recess.

“Your mission, if you choose to accept it, will no doubt put you in perilous danger. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” And that tiny little reel-to-reel recorder always smoked and disintegrated in to molten plastic. What great special effects!

In short, Mission Impossible gave the phrase “burn after reading” its meaning. And since I’m a bit of a pyro nut, burning/self-destruction of any inanimate object seems like a good idea. It definitely sends warm fuzzies through my bones.

Now excuse me while I lull myself to sleep humming that theme song.

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Okay, here’s another song made popular by a DeBeers diamond television commercial.

Seems artists have figured out how to mass market themselves on the tails of major companies. Landon Pigg’s “Coffee Shop,” is a catchy little tune. Enjoy!

http://musicbox.sonybmg.com/videos/landon-pigg/falling-in-love-at-a-coffee-shop

Lyrics:

I think that possibly, maybe I’m fallin’ for you
Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you
I’ve seen the paths that your eyes wander down
I wanna come to
I think that possibly, maybe I’m fallin’ for you

No one understands me quite like you do
Through all of the shadowy corners of me

I never knew just what it was
About this old coffee shop I love so much
All of the while I never knew

I think that possibly, maybe I’m fallin’ for you
Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you
I’ve seen the waters that make your eyes shine
Now I’m shinin’ too
Because, oh because, I’ve fallen quite hard over you

If I didn’t know you, I’d rather not know
If I couldn’t have you, I’d rather be alone

I never knew just what it was
About this old coffee shop I love so much
All of the while I never knew
I never knew just what it was
About this old coffee shop I love so much
All of the while I never knew
All of the while
All of the while
It was you

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Where does the time go?

Friday found me at The Guthrie in Minneapolis taking in a play written by the late Wendy Wasserstein. “Third,” proved an excellent production and, as The Guthrie productions are known to do, left the audience with plenty to talk about afterwards. I’m always amazed at the caliber of theatre productions throughout the city. So, when my 17-year-old (who is purely theatre-hungry at her young age) opts to go with her pals to Duluth to see a play I scratch my head. There are, of course, various reasons to travel 150 miles to see a college production – the road trip and adventure being excuse enough. I chalk it up to that and recall my own experiences at that age – when my best friends piled in a car and drove six hours to see George Winston and Spyro Gyra at the Kool Jazz Festival right here in Minneapolis. Those are memory keeper moments.

Saturday was father/son day including a karate lesson (my son is a red belt), an oil change on the Mazda 6, and lunch at Culver’s. Culver’s Restaurant is known for its butter burger – something which I haven’t eaten for more than two years. The place does make a good chili, though, which has far fewer bad things loaded in it than a butter burger and basket of french fries.

And today was laundry day – which seemed to last ALL damn day. In between washing and drying, I did purchase and install a new light fixture. Naturally, the manufacturer failed to provide adequate instructions as well as all the needed parts. But after some loud, tourette-inspired swearing, I found a work around and managed the install without a return trip to the Home Depot. Light in Minnesota is such a valuable thing. And even though we gain an hour of daylight on March 9, it seems we can never have enough light during the dark, winter season.

Speaking of winter, it is back in the atmosphere again. Freezing rain turned to snow after the sun set making streets and roads just slippery enough to create havoc. As hurried as we are for spring to arrive, we have to temper that excitement with the simple fact that it’s only March 2 and we could easily have a good snow fall or two (or three) before the end of April.

CCI wrapped my Sunday with an episode of “Dirt,” featuring Courteney Cox. In “Dirt,” Cox plays Lucy Spiller, editor of the tabloid magazine. She is a manipulative, take-no-prisoners , ruthless, Type A personality who rules over a chaotic newsroom. Lucy is intimidating, cold and, most times, a straight-up bitch. Indeed, the FX Network’s show cuts across a wide swath of my interests including adult themes, Courteney Cox, tabloid editing, Courteney Cox, photography, Courteney Cox, and bizarre plot twists. Did I mention Courteney Cox?

Life could never be quite so enthralling or creative as those who create such original theatre scripts as “Third,” or television programs like “Dirt.” But, we can still create and direct ourselves.

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Did you notice how few words the Coen brothers had for the masses on the Oscars Sunday night?

Their movie, “No Country for Old Men,” (NCFOM) won four major awards including two directly attributable to the St. Paul St. Louis Park, Minn., writing duo who also won an Academy Award for their original work, “Fargo,” but they barely could get out a thank you to the millions watching the tome-length, dinosaur-ish awards show.

I’m a fan of Coen movies from the get go. “Raising Arizona,” “Fargo,” “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and NCFOM all could easily make my top 100 list of all-time favorite flicks. The brothers got game when it comes to adaptations of Cormac McCarthy’s novels or writing their own schtuff.

And apparently they still have a little Minnesota Modesty within them from their hometown roots, which keep them slightly bashful and soft spoken on the stage and in the lights of their peers (imagine giving an acceptance speech with Jack friggin’ Nicholson sitting 10 feet away from you). So saying a simple, “Thank You,” seems to fit quite well…even given their mighty success.

As for the Oscar production itself, the show’s host, John Stewart, did his best to keep it light but the pure length and boring productions make it impossible to really enjoy. And the songs nominated this year all blew chunks. The only real surprise of the night was Tilda Swinton’s best supporting actress award for her character in one of my favorite movies of the year, “Michael Clayton.” Swinton was humorous and charming accepting the award – which clearly surprised her as well.

Now I’m off to my first screen-writing class. Since the Coen’s have their mantel full of Oscar, I’ll let that Midwestern modesty work its magic on me.

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There’s a dust up of major proportions happening in Philadelphia’s local TV news market. Apparently, Alycia Lane, co-anchor at the CBS affiliate in Philly, traveled to NYC last weekend with her boyfriend. They proceeded to get drunk and, while taking a taxi early Sunday morning, had an altercation with two undercover police officers. Lane allegedly smacked a female officer in the face with her digital camera and called the NYC cop a f-ing dyke. Result: a night in jail, a felony charge for assaulting a police officer, and a two-week “early vacation” from her employer, CBS3.

It gets better.

ALaneSeems Lane has a little mental history of poor social behavior that isn’t quite normal for a typical, high-brow, high-profile television anchor. Last May, for example, she e-mailed photos of herself striking various poses in a bikini while on vacation to a “good friend” of hers. That good friend happens to be male and married. The man’s wife opened the e-mail and had a nice little e-mail exchange with Ms. Lane (who’s been divorced…twice).

Imagine KARE-11’s chief weather guru Belinda Jensen caught up in a row with the Minneapolis PD. Yeah. That’s a stretch. What’s different between the likes of Lane and our own local TV personalities is that those in Pennsylvania and New York City markets have no concept of what “Minnesota Nice” is all about. The City of Brotherly Love can’t keep a snarky TV anchor from throwing a hard right now and then. That, my friends, is good old-fashioned “Philadelphia F-U.” Still, one would think TV anchors would maintain their composure (even if drunk), especially when they’re away from their own back yards.

Just goes to show that while Lane may have the TV anchor look down pat, she’s the epitome of a talking head. Put her in public, throw a couple drinks down her gullet and she fast becomes the rough-around-the-edges, the-world-owes-me-everything New Yorker.

I hear the WWE is taking applications, Ms. Lane. Care to try on professional wrestling?

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Chris Matthews, host of CNBC’s “Hardball” program, may not be anyone’s favorite political pundit, but as a guest on “The Tonight Show,” Aug. 22, he explained in under five minutes his views on both Republican and Democrat options for president as well as what’s wrong with Bush and his love affair with the Iraq War.

C MatthewsMatthew’s picks for the Dem and Rep nominations for president are Hillary and Guiliani, respectively. He recommends people sit back, close their eyes and picture the first thing that comes to mind when you hear each candidate’s name. With Guiliani, he said people will see someone who takes charge (9/11/01 still carved into the minds’ eye).  With Clinton, he said the majority of women voters will see a female who can lead (I’m SO not convinced of this assessment of Clinton). But who votes in primaries and caucauses? Women!

As for the War in Iraq, Matthews says Bush and the current administration have “snookered” U.S. citizens from the onset. With the WMD search to today’s “surge” plans (which if it fails, Bush will only call for even more troops to be deployed to Iraq), this administration clearly has a penchant for engaging in fruitless matters.  Matthews said there’s no way to withdraw and no way to win in Iraq.

His appearance was enlightening and entertaining…as pundits go.

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CBS’s “60-Minutes” reran a story that first aired last April. The topic: Snitchin’.  Or shall I say, the topic is really about how impressionable kids in some cultures throughout America are readily adopting a philosophy that says refusing to help police authorities solve crimes of any kind is cool.

 

The scariest segment of the show was when five black kids, ages 14 to 19, sat together and explained why they wouldn’t share information with cops – even if they were eyewitnesses to murders, rapes or robberies. Why? Because rap artists (so-called musicians) with street cred in the black community have generated the concept that helping the po-leese is like tattle telling on their brah-thers.

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m not a fan of the rap music genre. I also don’t groove to country music, heavy metal, or anything associated with opera. We all have our dislikes.

I’m also my own man, which is to say I’d never allow a musician’s lyrics or commentary guide my life decisions.  If a rapper wants to further perpetuate ideas of persecution by legitimizing the use of words like “nigger” and “ho,” and at the same time, idealize the worn out concept that ALL white cops are out to “get” minorities based on the color of their skin – go right ahead.  I’m not listening. Likewise, I don’t need to hear other artists, like Bono, espouse his personal beliefs on me. He can have them, just don’t rub them in my face.

I have my own values. I’ve formed my own opinions. I don’t appreciate anyone using a bully pulpit to politicize their position.  And who on God’s green earth made celebrities experts on the War in Iraq, the AIDs crisis in Africa or the genocide in Dafur? Millions of words have been printed or said by far smarter people than a L.A. or New York City celebrity twice removed from his or her own reality.

I’m fed up with this persistent woe is me attitude. If you don’t like something, do something (writing lyrics about killing cops doesn’t count). What would those who preceded our generation think of this nonsense?

Can you imagine sitting down with Martin Luther King Jr. today and hooking him up with the latest rap song on your iPod? Do you think for an instant that activists who began important movements in their lifetimes would appreciate the extremist slants the movements have taken in recent years?

Activism is part of every generation, every culture. From the time Neanderthals persecuted each other to the era of Adolf Hitler’s plan to create a master race. Ideas are born and ideas die based on how people conduct themselves and how those philosophies are adopted and carried out. Some see great success and some see quick death.

But nothing good can come from this next generation of young adults who embrace a lackadaisical stance on their role in society. No good will result from people who ignore their communities, close their eyes when they instinctually know the difference between right and wrong, and stop caring about others who don’t live within the ‘hood.

Snitchin’ as a concept, a philosophy, a way of survival won’t help anyone no matter what the rapper du jour thinks or says. Ideas like this turn back the clock on progress that began decades ago, they don’t advance it.

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As a kid, the “Andy Griffith Show” was my all-time favorite program on television. Better than “Gunsmoke” or “The Rifleman,” better than “Rawhide” and much much better than “Happy Days.” The Fonz was okay, but he had nothing over Sheriff Taylor’s wide smile and ability to run Mayberry without a gun.

On most days during my elementary years, I’d walk two blocks home for lunch (by myself), grab a sandwich from mom (egg or tuna salad or maybe left over roast beef, made with WonderBread, of course) and eat in the TV room, watching another episode of Andy, Barney, Opie, Gomer, Aunt Bea, and Helen Crump. They were my TV family. I was a surrogate Opie Taylor. When I looked at my Dad, I saw Andy Taylor…although my Dad was a mechanic, not a sheriff.

Why the trip down black-and-white TV memory lane? Well this morning I heard a riotous joke on the radio (www.kfan.com). These radio hosts were doing a skit based on Carnac the Magnificent. You remember Carnac, right? Johnny Carson’s mystical wise wizard who would hold an envelop up to his head, say three words and then read the question in the envelope. 

So the radio guys were doing this and it was only so-so on the humor front, until the following:

Show host playing Carnac: “Oral B.”

Others in the studio repeating: “Oral B. Hmmm Oral B.”

Carnac: “Yes. Oral B.  There seems to be an echo in the studio.”

Sound effect: Ripping envelope

Carnac: “And the question is: What did they call Aunt Bea during her crazy college days.”

Sound effect: Much laughing and gaffawing.

I laughed out loud.

Aunt Bea was my Grandma Clara. She baked. She kept a clean house. She doted on her nephew. She gossiped about the neighbors. She talked in a sing-songy voice that grated on my nerves after five minutes.   I believe the long-standing success of this ’60s TV program was because the writers and producers managed to find in each character a way to relate to just about everyone on the planet.  From the dopey car mechanic who had no common sense to the bungling deputy who wanted to be a star in the FBI. Even Floyd the barber, a character who epitomized ALL barbers in small town America! We can still relate to each character in some fashion.

Of course when I was in grade school, I never imagined or considered that Aunt Bea would have experienced crazy college days.  Nor do I want to imagine that as an adult (shiver)!

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