Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An All-State Garage Rock Band for Churches?

I was reading a list in church regarding the youth music traditional Honours and All-State choruses in churches, and the All-State orchestra. Considering I had a cup of coffee (as they say in sports) through youth education in parochial school, and had a piano class in college to comply with art mandates, and did not take private voice lessons until I was 26, and sang in his first "true" choral gig at 31 (discarding my church choir because of its abusive tactics against musicians by advancing karaoke, which I referenced church musicians were treated as Powerade bottles), I consider how it would have been if I had started music lessons at a younger age.

What unfortunately caught my attention was a newer All-State group, the "All-State Praise Team," which in postmodern doublespeak is code for "garage rock band spoken here," where the church is turned into a club where rock music plays. We go from the Hill, Kinosian, Nakahara, Nagel, Curry, Hein, and other distinguished musicianship of trained musicians, the LaRoche, Gunnels, Harrison, Hungerford, Will, Stallard, Cuttino, Fox, Briggs, and other trained vocalists that sing timeless sacred song that is sound in both doctrine and theology, to the garage bands wailing the latest from the Michael Jackson library (those who are new here should understand that this references the 2011 acquisition of leading modern worship church publisher EMI by a consortium of the Michael Jackson Family Trust, their music publishing partner Sony ("Sony ATV"), Blackstone, and Mubadala -- yes, the hat sponsor on the Scuderia Ferrari (#&%^%#! team), often lacking any sound theology (some notable heresy houses have their own music publishing houses in-house, as Australia's notorious prosperity gospel house has one, and many churches use their material, which was even performed on a popular television programme in the States). At this note, Haugen and Haas would be perfectly acceptable in the church, which is something that my Catholic friends object (and yes, the problem is notorious even in Protestant circles; Haugen and Haas is found in the 2008 Baptist Hymnal, which is dominated by material from the Michael Jackson Library, most of which became part of such after the 2011 acquisitions).

Why have we dumbed down our standards where morbidly unhealthy rock music (morbidly unhealthy both in body, as we learned about one musician at a church recently, and in teachings they offer) is regarded as better than a musician whose is a full 140.6 Ironman race finisher? The songs of the postbellum church are violently toxic with light material based on feelings, and not the serious, wholesome material we've learned including the setting of the Nicene Creed and songs from the Bible that have come from our choral training. In a modern church, if I walked into the room with my violin, piano, and vocal friends to practice serious music, we would be laughed off by the postmodern emotional types because of a hate, especially being taught today, of a certain group ("dead white males") that is a popular teaching in today's Common Core (which, if you've studied the issue, you will discover that it drops people's academic levels down two entire grades, or worse).

It seems when an All-State Praise Team is much easier to find when an appreciation of Biblical Doctrine and Theology are sacrificed in favour of the beat and feelings, and the "look at me" type popular music vocalists and musicians have supplanted sound teammates who sing sound doctrine and theology in groups of 30-100 voices of music that matter. At this rate, will there be serious musicians left out cold when the garage band is praised, and trained church musicians are now mocked, when All-State garage bands are more popular than orchestras for youth?

We are teaching a bad lesson to this generation when the banal that requires no thought replaces material that requires serious reading of God's Word.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Carrie hasn't hated herself for loving you, and yet you do this?

W hile reading wires this weekend, I was not amused when reports surfaced people were packing tents near major big-box retailers, camping for prime seats, preparing themselves for the time the stores open before (in the Eastern time zone) Carrie Underwood “hates herself for loving you” in an attempt to purchase opening hour specials that are good while supplies last (as few as five of a specific item for those specials, but it usually is between 5-15 of a specific item). As these events start to pile up, it reminds me of people who sleep outside venues awaiting the opening of ticket sales for major popular musicians (one country star consistently sold out Colonial Life Arena annually that he moved his concert to the big stadium, which was not a sellout, but had far more tickets sold than any of his sellouts) or major events including sporting events, those who camp out at specialty stores to purchase the next big album, gaming device, or even those awaiting the 0001 premiere of the next big movie (sadly, we don't have any movie theatres in this city anymore).

What virtue is patience?

(I've run ahead, and gone too slow, I've got to be still know, and wait upon His will now . . 1)

1. Nathan DiGesare, Bruce Sudano, Kathy Troccoli. “A Different Road”. Sony/ATV Publishing LLC. 1998.

And worst of all, these stores are turning into Krzyzewskiville. One of my best friends (pictured from the 2013 Carolina Cup Steeplechase) will understand the little “city” of such nomenclature, and unfortunately, I am seeing Krzyzewskivilles (see if you can pronounce the name!) start around this time for these stores, which should never be open on a day we give thanks to God, while many of us are eating (if we can still eat) dinner following the top day for running road races in the year, beating even Independence Day. See you on foot for a few thousand metres and on the barre! I won't be piled up in those little sardine cans outside the stores before Steel City and Mr. Poe have their battle and we hear Carrie "hate herself for loving you". Quoth that black aviary if I was thinking about shopping on Thanksgiving night, “Nevermore!”

If it was a drag show, Santa Claus and reindeer would be sitting in one car, a Pilgrim and a happy turkey sitting in the other car, while the reindeer launches the car with the first amber on, the car is moving with its front wheels up, while the turkey is sitting in the driver's seat of the second car, watching as the second amber is on, and is waiting. The red cherry is up in Santa and the reindeer's lane. That will teach a serious lesson when people are no longer giving thanks to God anymore what has happened.

Have we lost Thanksgiving? Have we lost the importance of calming ourselves down, thanking God for what He has blessed us over the past year, and gathering with family over a dinner in a way the Pilgrims thanked God for His blessings 392 years ago on Plymouth Plantation?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Retro TV Monday - This Week in TV Guide: November 23, 1963

This week begins as last week ended, with all programming being cancelled in the wake of John Kennedy's assassination.

Minnesota was scheduled to take on Wisconsin on CBS' college football game of the week on Saturday; instead, TV viewers saw dignitaries arriving at the White House to view the President's body laying in repose in the East Room.  As they arrived, their shoes splashed in the water from the torrential downpour that soaked Washington that day.  The game was postponed to Thanksgiving Day, though it was not televised.

Instead of Glenn Ford and Red Buttons starring in Imitation General on NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies, NBC broadcast the latest news from Washington and Dallas, including reports that a receipt had been found for the mail order rifle used to kill Kennedy.  In the meantime, future Vice President Hubert Humphrey talked of Kennedy's legacy and Johnson's challenges, and replays of Johnson's work day were shown late into the night.

On Sunday, the American Football League cancelled its entire slate of games, while the National Football League carried on as scheduled, without TV coverage.  KMBC, the ABC affiliate, was supposed to show the game between the home town Chiefs and the New York Jets from the Polo Grounds, while just a few miles away the New York Giants were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at Yankee Stadium, a game that would have been on CBS' affiliate.  NBC, without sports on Sunday afternoon, had scheduled a repeat of Gian Carlo Menotti's opera Labrynth, the story of a bride and groom searching for the key to life, on NBC Opera Theatre.  Nothing could have compared to what viewers actually saw: the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald in the Dallas City Jail, the solemn procession of the President's body from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, where it would lay in state in the Rotunda, the images of people filing past the casket while funereal music played in the background.  On CBS, rather than seeing a Grammy salute to "The Best on Record" with Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Henry Mancini and Bing Crosby*, viewers listened to Dan Rather, in Dallas, talking about the man who killed the man who killed Kennedy, Jack Ruby.

*And Vaughn Meader, whose JFK impression made the album The First Family an award-winning smash.  His career evaporated after that.  I don't know if "The Best on Record" was ever broadcast, but if so I would assume Meader's section was cut out.

On ABC, Edward P. Morgan is heard to comment to Howard K. Smith, "You keep thinking, Howard, that this is a dream from which you will awake - but you won't."  NBC aired a commemorative episode of the British satire program That Was The Week That Was, a tribute to Kennedy.

Read the entire piece here. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

On November 22

One of my first jobs upon moving to Dallas was at a company whose offices were on Stemmons Freeway, just across the street from Parkland Hospital. As a matter of fact, I could see it every day outside the window facing my desk.

On days when I had to drive downtown, my route back to the office would take me down Main Street and then onto Elm, with a turn past the Sixth Floor Museum on the way to the Triple Underpass before getting onto the freeway. The Sixth Floor Museum is housed in the former Texas School Book Depository, and as I passed the building I would drive over two white "X"s that had been painted on the pavement.  (They've since been paved over by the city.)

Dallas is a city full of history, and historical landmarks.  Last Monday night I attended a premier of a documentary on the police capture of Lee Harvey Oswald.  The screening was held in the Texas Theatre in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, the theater where Oswald was apprehended after murdering police officer J.D. Tippet.  Several retired DPD officers took part in a panel discussion afterward, including men who knew Tippet personally.  One of them, Jim Leavelle, would be familiar to anyone who's seen the iconic picture of Oswald at the moment of his murder by Jack Ruby - he's the policeman in the light-colored suit who's handcuffed to Oswald.  His granddaughter, Kate Griendling, was the director of the documentary.

The city in which we live, Irving, is home to Ruth Paine's house.  She was the Quaker housewife who befriended Marina Oswald and took her in after she left her husband.  It is the house where Oswald slept on November 21, the night before the assassination.  It's now a museum.  A street en route to the Texas Theater, Beckley, is where the rooming house was in which Oswald lived.

The Sixth Floor itself is a remarkable experience. The actual window from which Oswald fired his shots is glassed off, preserved as a diorama of sorts, frozen in time to look as it did on November 22, 1963. However, a guest to the Museum can stand at a nearby window and get the sense of just how close Elm Street is to the building; a trip to the seventh floor allows the visitor to stand in the window directly below the sniper's nest.  A walk outside the building reveals the Xs painted on the street - the point at which the bullets struck Kennedy.  Farther down the sidewalk is a grassy knoll, known forever after as The Grassy Knoll.

As my words suggest, I believe that Oswald was the one and only assassin of John Kennedy.  Even if you don't believe that, however, there can be no denying the power of standing in some of the most iconic locations in American history.  Though I do not consider myself particularly well-traveled, I have visited the homes of Washington, Adams and Jefferson; I've stood on the ground where the first shot was fired at the final battle of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown.  I've seen where the tattered American flag flew as Francis Scott Key composed the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, and I've dipped my hands in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Texas, home to the presidential libraries of both Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush, offer future glimpses of additional historical artifacts.

Someone - I don't know who - once wrote that in Dealey Plaza, it is always November 22.  In all the times I've driven downtown, and driven past Dealey Plaza on the way to the Triple Underpass, I've never failed to see a crowd.  Some of them look at the Xs in the street, some stand on the Grassy Knoll (helpfully identified by a banner reading "Grassy Knoll"), some look up at the window where Oswald stood.  Last weekend we were downtown for the official lighting of the Christmas tree, and with all the festivities going on, lights and bands and face painting and vendors, there was still a crowd at Dealey Plaza.  It is a place, not so much frozen in time, but where time stands still.

And yet there's something about standing in the Book Depository (let's call it that for what it represents), on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy, an event that occurred (unlike those other events I mentioned) within my lifetime.  I don't have any memories of that time save the vague hint of a hazy recollection of a fleeting image which a three-year-old might have glimpsed as he was waiting impatiently for his cartoons.  That, I suspect, is what makes this different.

Standing inside that building, looking down on the street, hearkens back to a time that is 1963, and yet not 1963.  It is, in fact, my time, an era in which my first impressions were formed and first memories were captured.  It causes other memories, associated not by place or event but by era, to come to the fore.  It is not 1963 in Dallas, but the Sears store on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the building where I attended grade school, the sense of riding in my grandmother's car at night in the city of my birth, Minneapolis, as the neon lights marked out used car lots and Christmas decorations hung over intersections.  The 1965 World Series featuring our Minnesota Twins, the Texas tower shooting in 1966, MLK, RFK, the first Super Bowl, the moon landing - that's what I see standing at the window on the sixth floor.

It all sounds quite romantic, and there's really nothing romantic about it.  The Sixties were a crummy decade, full of violence and unrest, rebellion and license.  And yet, to paraphrase Charles Schulz' Linus, it was a good decade too, because it was the decade in which I was born.  At least that made it good for me.

What it is, is history.  Not just the history of John Kennedy's death, or for that matter his life.  Not even the history of this country, although it's certainly a major part of it.  It is the history of me, the history of us, of all those who posses the power to see that lifetime in the memories generated by a moment, a place, an event. It calls for reflection, the type lost to those who don't have much interest in anything that happened before their birth, or more than 15 minutes ago.

There are many who complain that too much attention is paid to JFK and his assassination, that it's a symptom of the narcissism of the baby boomer generation.  There's probably more than a little truth to this. Reading some of the things written in the immediate aftermath of Kennedy's death are, to be kind, a little embarrassing, full of purple prose and overemoting.*  Knowing what we do now about Kennedy's personal life underlines the situation, but the fact remains that even had Kennedy been a saint, the words written about him would have been overdoing it.

*Variously, a "great Christian," "one of our greatest presidents ever," "a kind, decent man," "a brilliant genius," and more.

But as Rick Brookhiser wrote at NRO earlier this week, those alive at the time of William McKinley's assassination in 1901 had only to remember back 20 years to the assassination of James Garfield in 1881. Many of  them might have lived in 1865, when Lincoln had been assassinated.  That made three American Presidents to experience violent death over the span of 36 years.  By the time of Kennedy's death in 1963, it had been 62 years since such an assassination, and very few remembered McKinley as anyone other than a figure in the history books.  Despite the Second World War, despite Korea, it was a generation ill prepared for the shock of a presidential assassination, especially one of a man who appeared as young and vital as JFK.  As Marc Ryan put it to me in our recent interview, while those past disasters might have belonged to other generations, the death of John Kennedy was that generation's disaster.  Just as there would be another generation scarred by Challenger and Columbia, and 9/11, and events we haven't even imagined yet. So I think we have to be gentle in thinking about that generation's apparent obsession.  As Brookhiser writes, "it will not be real to you until you have watched it yourself."

That doesn't mean that one has to subscribe to the more melodramatic, emotional assessments of it.  We don't know that Kennedy would have kept us from greater involvement in Vietnam.  There's quite a lot to suggest that civil rights legislation, passed as a tribute to Kennedy, might not have been as successful in a second Kennedy term generation of 1963.  In fact, as author Jeff Greenfield and others have suggested, Kennedy's scandals might well have come to light in a second term, and in that case we'd have an entirely different impression of Camelot.

Speaking of Camelot, I've written before about James Pierson's Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, which attempts to explain how the generation most wounded by Kennedy's death would up embracing the very causes which his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, espoused.  Pierson thinks that Kennedy's death, and the adoption of the "Camelot" legend encouraged by Jackie Kennedy, was the defining moment in the collapse of the world as we knew it.  I've only lived in Dallas for six months, but it's been long enough for me to have formed a protectiveness about this city; while there were extremists among the right-wing elements in Dallas, there is no evidence that this atmosphere was measurably worse than some other Southern states - an atmosphere that cannot be understood out of context of the historical times - and had no influence on a Communist who hated America and sought to assassinate the Cold Warrior whose policies he opposed.

Dallas is not to blame, nor is America.  The Rolling Stones were wrong; we didn't kill John Kennedy.  It was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Idon't apologize for my interest in the death of John F. Kennedy, or some of the other news events of the past that have the ability to transfix me.  I don't consider myself a sentimentalist, or a wishful thinker, I don't whitewash the past or try to rewrite history.  I liked John Kennedy's style, and some of his policies, but I don't have much time for John Kennedy the man, and I have no time whatsoever for the attempts to sanctify him.

But I understand something of that need, the desire of people to attach a significance to his life and death. Because it's a way of giving our own lives and deaths a significance; if the death of a great man such as the President of the United States lacks meaning, what chance to any of us have?

Shortsighted perhaps, but also human.  So as we look back on these two days, November 22, 1963 and November 22, 2013, we look back at much more than what happened that day, and this one.  In remembering this anniversary, as with September 11, we remember the drama of human life and our part in it.  Thus has it been, thus will it always be. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

So you think you don't know opera

Iknow a lot of people who think they don't know anything about opera - who, in fact, are quite sure they hate opera.  I'm usually able to confuse them by playing the overtures to The Barber of Seville (Bugs Bunny cartoons) or William Tell (The Lone Range) but, as Telegraph columnist Tim Wong points out, even modern operas have beautiful, hummable arias.

I think all of the pieces excerpted in Wong's article are eminently enjoyable - and he doesn't even mention "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" from The Threepenny Opera, which we might recognize as "Mack the Knife."  See, you know more about opera than you think!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Conspiracy Buffs Wear Their Theories On Their Sleeves (and Heads) at Annual Convention

Attendees Dress Up as Favorite Assassins to Support Theories

(DALLAS, TEXAS – November 17) -- The 50th Annual “JFK Conspiracy Convention” wrapped up today in Dallas with the awarding of prizes in several categories, including “Best Assassination Costume” and “Most Plausible Conspiracy Newcomer.” The three-day convention, held at the Wyndham Love Field Hotel, attracted over 2,000 conspiracy buffs from around the world to exchange conspiracy theories, compare notes, and demonstrate the latest in assassination fashion.

Scholarly papers and presentations were given on a variety of topics and theories, all seeking to identify the true assassin or assassins of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 as he traveled through a motorcade in downtown Dallas. For three days, the lobby and meeting rooms at the Wyndham was a colorful swirl of activity, as many of the participants came dressed as their favored conspiracy personality. Anyone walking through the Wyndham might find themselves standing next to any one of a number of “suspects,” including Secret Service agents, CIA operatives, FBI investigators, Mafia hitmen, disgruntled Cuban exiles, disgruntled Cuban Communists, and even familiar faces such as Lyndon B. Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy as President, New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw, and the late President’s widow, Jacqueline.

Mr. Cy Coe, 26, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, showed off his original costume, a shapeless, fuzzy green hoodie that he said represented the infamous “Grassy Knoll” from which many conspiracy experts feel one or more shooters fired on that fateful day. Mr. Coe’s outfit took second place in the “Architectural Feature” portion of the competition, losing the prestigious Stone-Garrison award to a man from California dressed as the Texas School Book Depository. “You call that a costume?” Mr. Coe grumbled, telling observers that “anyone can cut a hole in a box, draw a few windows on the side, and call themselves the Book Depository” and adding that the winner should have been disqualified anyway, since the building was obviously a “Potemkin Village” constructed by the CIA to divert suspicion from the shooter on the knoll.

The Abraham Zapruder award for “best plausible conspiracy theory not already in wide circulation” was given to Ms. Belle Freeh of Orlando, Florida, for her presentation alleging that the news department of CBS-TV was responsible for masterminding the assassination in order to boost ratings for Walter Cronkite’s evening news. According to the 19-year old raven-haired beauty, the network was desperate to catch up to NBC’s dynamic news team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and realized that “only a national tragedy which would focus the eyes of the nation on a lone anchorman, making him into an internationally respected authority and eventually the most trusted man in America,” could save the network. Ms. Freeh was unable to accept her award in person, having left to catch an early flight for an upcoming conference in Roswell, New Mexico regarding attempts by the Illuminati, Opus Dei and the Freemasons to dominate the world economy .

Ms. Freeh narrowly beat out another popular theory by Dr. Runson Amebula of Higgins Bluff, Montana, who argued that NASA had been behind the slaying in order to preserve funding for manned space exploration after JFK discovered their plans to fake pictures of a manned moon landing set to take place sometiem before the end of the decade.

But not everyone was caught up in the festivities, and as the evening wound to a close a reporter noticed a young man standing alone in the corner, ignored by virtually everyone. The man, who identified himself as Mr. William Parker of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and was outfitted in a white t-shirt and blue jeans, said that he had come dressed as Lee Harvey Oswald. “Nobody wants anything to do with me,” Mr. Parker sighed. “I’ve been accused of being a government agent, planting bugs in people’s rooms, and even having arrived here in a black helicopter. A lot of people told me they didn’t even think I was a real person. I’d have had better luck dressing up as Santa – at least then people would believe in me.” When asked if he’d be back for next year’s convention, Mr. Parker said ”no way,” and added that it had been one of the worst weekends of his life. “Next year I’m going to stick to the Trilateral Commission Convention,” he added. “Those people really know how to party.”

Monday, November 18, 2013

Retro TV Monday - This Week in TV Guide, November 16, 1963

On Friday night's episode of Route 66, "After he stops Nola Neilsen from committing suicide, Linc becomes romantically involved with her - which disturbs the girl's possessive brother."  Meanwhile, on 77 Sunset Strip, "Chuck Gates has been sentenced to death for murder, but his father, big-time politician 'Boss' Gates, employs Stu to prove his son was framed."  And Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre presents John O'Hara's "It's Mental Work," adapted by Rod Serling: "Too long a bar owner, Ernie Wigman wants to sell out, preferably to his bartender Rich.  Rich has a yen for the bar; he just hasn't got the cash."

In sports, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the San Francisco Warriors from the Cow Palace, and at Madison Square Garden Mauro Mina and Allen Thomas face off in a light-heavyweight bout.  On Jack Paar's prime-time show, Liberace plays the piano while Cassius Clay recites poetry.  Cliff Arquette and dancer Gil Lamb are Steve Allen's guests on Los Angeles' KTLA, while on San Diego's KFMB, the Allen show features jazz pianist George Shearing and singers Howard Keel and Vikki Carr.

Friday morning and afternoon are filled with game shows, soap operas, matinee movies and sitcom reruns - Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Lena Horne wind up a week as the celebrity guests on Password, on Father Knows Best, "Bud dates a beauty-contest winner," and on The Doctors, "Laura breaks her engagement."  Among the late night movies, KTLA is showing Berlin Correspondent, in which "A daring correspondent (Dana Andrews) attempts to sneak out secret information," and KNXT's Late Show is The Big Lift, "The story of the American airlift in 1958 when the Russians blocked off Berlin," starring Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas.

In other words, it's a day pretty much like any other day.  Except, of course, it wasn't.

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dallas to Commemorate JFK Anniversary with "Motorcade" Through Downtown

President, Texas Governor Also Invited to Attend

(DALLAS, TX - November 13)  The The city of Dallas announced plans today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with a parade through downtown Dallas. President and Mrs. Obama, as well as Texas Governor and Mrs. Perry, have been invited to take part in the “motorcade,” which will begin at Dallas Love Field airport and conclude with a luncheon at Market Center, formerly known as the Dallas Trade Mart.

The announcement by city leaders appeared to mark an end to a bitter dispute between liberal and conservative anniversary committees which had threatened to split the Dallas civic community in two.  Extending invitations to the President and Governor was seen as a fence-mending effort to bring the two factions together for the good of the city.

Path the "motorcade" will take
Dean Buckler, in charge of logistics for the November 22 event, said the “motorcade” would begin at approximately 11:30am, winding its way down Main Street in the downtown area and passing under a so-called “triple underpass” to Market Center, where the luncheon is expected to begin at 12:30pm.

“We think this is an outstanding opportunity for everyone to come together to pay tribute to an unforgettable moment in our city’s history,” Buckler told reporters at a press conference. “There will be many good areas for the public to congregate in order to see the various dignitaries as they drive through the city. People at work will be able to watch from office windows that overlook the route, and there is a sort of grassy hill or knoll downtown that offers an excellent view of the parade for those who wish to stand.”  Weather permitting, the dignitaries will travel in open cars which the city has borrowed from a local dealership, in order for people to get a better look.

The weekend’s events will conclude with a ceremony Sunday morning beginning in the garage of the parking lot at Dallas City Hall. The brief march will wind up at the County Jail, “barring any kind of unforeseen interruption,” Buckler said.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Retro TV Monday - This Week in TV Guide, November 9, 1968

Last week we dabbled in food, sharing a TV Guide recipe for minestrone. This week we go even farther, as Richard Gehman tells us how "You too can be a chef" by watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. You see, Carson makes a perfect companion for the hungry view (and Gehman finds himself, for some unknown reason, starved every time he watches Carson).  Forthwith, Gehman's complete late-night supper, made during a recent episode of Tonight.

Start with the small potatoes, which can be prepared for boiling during Carson's commercial for a new spot remover.  You can do the whole thing from your easy chair while Don Rickles comes on and insults everyone in sight.  As Rickles continues, it's time for you to separate slices of chipped beef, which you've brought to your easy chair along with the spuds.  As Ed McMahon shills for Alpo, take the separated beef to the kitchen, toss the potatoes in a pot for boiling, and while you're there put an eighth of a pound of butter in a frypan which has been preheated to 300°.  Turn up the TV while Sergio Franchi is singing, so you can hear him while toasting two slices of bread and opening a can of peas.  With the next commercial, you can drain the potatoes and toast a couple more slices of bread.  The next guest, possibly George Jessel, allows you to chop a fresh green or red pepper.

When the show pauses for a station break, that's your chance to add two tablespoonfuls of sifted flour to the sizzling butter, stir with a whisk, and add a half teaspoonful of salt, a couple of pinches of dried parsley, a very small dash of oregano and some pepper, preferably fresh-ground.  You can add a half-cup of water while the next singer (probably named Connie) warbles away.  Add the chipped beef to the mixture when shills for a sewer-cleaning device, along with a half-cup of milk, stirring until the mixture bubbles, at which time you include the drained peas.

This whole thing should take you to within about ten minutes of the end of Carson's show.  During the next-to-last commercial, add a tablespoonful of capped black pitted olives, and as Carson interviews his final guest (Mary Martin Mary McCarthy, Mary Healy, or maybe Mary Queen of Scots), you can serve your creamed chipped beef, either on the toast or the potatoes you've put on the side.  Turn off the set.  Eat heartily.

I don't know.  I don't think I can eat that heavy a meal right before bedtime.

Read the rest of the article here.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bad homers make bad sports

Over the years at Our Word, we've been critical of the shouters, screamers, and homers whose goal it seems is to appear on any national sports highlight show with their cheerleading over the radio.

Listening to the end of the South Carolina-Missouri game a couple of weeks ago on radio while I arrived home from the Baroque Soloists concert, I could not believe how unprofessional the radio broadcast (Ellis/Suggs) was during the crazy finish of the game. We don't have the national-style radio broadcasters that used to be everyday. ESPN, in a sad way, changed the culture of how radio broadcasts are done and the result of it was the way the last play was called. I asked if the conferences should have one "regional" or "national" radio crew at each game calling the games, and both teams carrying the one national feed, similar to how Major League Baseball, prior to 1980, mandated one radio crew from national radio to offer the game to both teams' radio networks during the finals. Since fan complaints in 1980, MLB only allows the primary market to have local radio. All other stations in that team's network only has the national radio broadcast. A similar rule in the NFL applies during conference championship games and the league final, where only the primary market can have the local broadcast, and all other stations must carry the national radio feed.

Would having exclusively neutral crews calling conference games and both teams having to carry that broadcast help or hurt the sport? The development of young broadcasters has been on the decline because we've replaced the top talent with homers. South Carolina's dean of the School of Journalism, Charles Bierbauer, would be looking at homers with anger. You wouldn't want homers talking about news issues.

Here's the homer call from Fox Sports Live.  And here's the call from ESPN's coverage.

The homer call is clearly laughing and cheering, and not analysing what happened. The national television call (Joe Tessitore) has unbelief at the missed chip shot, and he saw the technical mistake almost immediately. That's what matters in any sudden incident, and that's what fans need.

There is a clear difference now in sports broadcasting, and the sad thing is that's the problem with sport today. Homers don't make for good broadcasts. A friend of mine said Charlie MacAlexander, who replaced the late Bob Fulton in 1995 and broadcast games until 2002, was much fairer than Todd Ellis. MacAlexander later worked on regional television broadcasts. The time a broadcaster used local radio to climb the ladder from local to regional radio, then regional to national radio, then from radio to television is gone, as it is now homers galore. That is a sad state of affairs now.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Retro TV Monday: This week in TV Guide: November 4, 1967

Back in the day – “the day” in this case being before DVDs, before VHS, before even TCM – there were only two ways to catch classic movies. One was to see them in a revival or art house theater, the other came courtesy of The Late Late Show on local TV.

My personal guide to the classic movie was the Academy Awards program listing that appeared each year in TV Guide. As a studious lad in college, I’d spend the last half-hour or so of each day in the periodicals stacks of the library, going through bound issues of TV Guide from the past dozen or so years, developing the pop culture interests that have stayed with me to this day. The Oscar Close-Up would feature pictures of the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress, plus a list of the nominees in Picture, Supporting Actor and Actress, Director, and Song, and as a top-line guide to movies, it wasn’t bad. I’d make mental lists of the movies I hadn’t heard of, less well-known movies that struck me as interesting or at least intriguing, and I’d keep an eye out for them when they ran on local TV. I saw a lot of good movies that way – This Sporting Life (with nominees Richard Harris and Rachel Roberts), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Kim Stanley), Tom Jones (the movie, not the singer – Best Picture of 1963), Becket (Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole), among others. Many of them were not what I expected at all, which increased my personal pleasure.

One of those little-known movies was a British film called The Mark, a bleak story of a man trying to rebuild his life after being released from prison for child molestation. It starred Stuart Whitman, an B-actor better known for television, who’d somehow copped a nomination for Best Actor. He didn't win – Maximilian Schell did, for Judgment at Nuremberg*), but The Mark was an obscure movie that was well worth watching.

*Fun fact: Maximilian Schell’s sister, Maria, was Whitman’s co-star in The Mark.

Stuart Whitman’s on the cover of TV Guide this week for what is probably his best-known role: Marshal Jim Crown in Cimarron Strip, CBS’ 90-minute answer to the mega-Westerns Wagon Train and The Virginian. Actually, Cimarron Strip bears more resemblance to another CBS oater, Gunsmoke – no surprise, since the series is helmed by that show’s former executive producer, Philip Leacock. Whitman hopes Cimarron Strip will be the start of a new stage in his career, which to date has consisted mostly of roles that had originally been intended for others: Darby’s Rangers (Charlton Heston), The Story of Ruth (Stephen Boyd), The Sound and the Fury (Robert Wagner), An American Dream (David Janssen). Even The Mark was inherited from Richard Burton, and despite the nomination, Whitman concedes, “I wasn’t sure I was in the right profession.” He feels that this role “is definitely going to hit me with an image. It’s the image that makes the star. I’m on the brink of the stardom that I’ve always sought and wanted. I wasn’t ready for it before.”

Read the rest of this week's article here.
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