Archive Page 2

02
Jan
11

ify:7 the tv

TV for the masses was just getting started when it, like so much other stuff, was postponed due to the 2nd World War. It got rolling by 1950 but suffered from the ‘chicken or the egg’ phenomena – not much need to broadcast if no one had a telly, and why buy a telly if there was nothing to watch?

But it’s hard to keep a good media down 🙂 Most of us watched something downtown at the store that sold TVs as they would set them in the front window and turn them on, and the first family in the neighborhood to get a set would get very popular.

Early RCA test pattern

There might be only one ‘channel’ broadcasting in your part of the state and the shows were limited at first to only a few hours during the day or in the evening. It took a while to start things up at the station so the they broadcast a “test pattern” and you had the time to adjust the horizontal & vertical of your picture if needed. The last thing broadcast was invariably the “Star Spangled Banner” at midnight.

As kids, sis and I were forced to come inside, so the folks didn’t have to watch us outside and could enjoy the shows. We didn’t like TV much since it was for adults. The folks loved it, as only the best of the very best were on TV – comedians, dancers, singers and bands, stage plays, etc.

1950 Crosley Model 10"

It was simply magic to see & enjoy things from places you would probably never visit in person, all on a tiny, round, 9″ black & white screen. Then there was the immediacy of TV, no more waiting until photos appeared weeks later in the Saturday Evening Post.

However, the soul of TV was the fact it was live. It happened at the same time you watched it. If the folks on the ‘set’ messed up then you saw them mess up, if the singer missed a note you noticed, if the lady in the commercial couldn’t get the door of the Frigidaire open , you watched her flub up. It was real in the sense that it was real, really 🙂 It was NOW, as in RIGHT NOW.

Not like today,
when you don’t know when a video was recorded or when a web page was written or who wrote it.
You have no idea anymore, as reality has an obsured meaning since you can’t tell if it’s real or not.

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29
Dec
10

ify:6 the medium, the message, a mess?

Radio was the original message board. It could reach out and connect peoples across a very wide area. It embellished the newspapers, and the magazines like Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post. Movies were recorded on film just like the personal cameras of the day. News films were shown prior to movies being played at the theater houses. This film however, was time consuming and expensive to ‘process’. TV was broadcast ‘live’ – in real time – which made for exciting shows!

It didn’t take long to invent video tape which didn’t need ‘processing’ so by 1960 TV was no longer ‘live’ but could be edited and then broadcast to the public at some later time.

Understandably, TV grew in significance but was only the 3 main broadcast channels, NBC, CBS, and ABC. During the summers we began to see the first of the “reruns”, I guess that seeing older content was somehow better than seeing new content????

In the 60’s we were sending broadcast satellites into the heavens and soon cable TV was being wired into our cities. It became obvious the we were going to have many more ways to deliver video to more people around the world. Asking WHO was going to fill all this potential new broadcast space was a perfectly valid question. The sci-fi writers had wondered this question for quite some time, and now others were joining the fray.

Marshall McLuhan - in the early 70's courtesy Wiki

Marshall McLuhan was one of those. He coined the term “global village” and wrote a powerful book on the topic of the exploding communication technology.

The satellite medium, McLuhan states, encloses the Earth in a man-made environment, which “… turns the globe into a repertory theater to be programmed.

‘The Medium is the Message’ is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

In simpler terms, I think he means that the volume and breadth of content available to us will become at least as important that the individual news items that are broadcast. It sounds reasonable, if we all had TVs strapped to our wrists, and we had 50 different broadcasters sending us ‘information’ who would have to time (or brain-power) to assimilate all of it? would it become omni-present?

How are we going to filter and organize and catalog this content? What’s going to happen if we create the inter-webs and allow common citizens to create and disperse content?

We were used to editors and journalists making publishing decisions about ‘ethics’ and ‘honest-unbiased’ content, what would happen if that were stripped away?

16
Dec
10

ify:5 why read sci-fi

I actually don’t remember why or how I began reading what is called science fiction. I was limited to books from the public library, but I did see Buck Rogers in the serials played before the Saturday morning movies. Yea, we laughed at Buck Rogers, and the strings holding up the model spaceships, and the stuff that spewed out as ‘rocket exhaust’ and fell to the ground. Gad-zooks – we knew there was no gravity in space 🙂 Still it was fun, just like the early comic books were fun and amazing at the same time.

So I must have gone to the library and begun searching the very limited sci-fi section. I also read every Hardy Boy book the came out, and the ultimate book series Nancy Drew. Boy, did I want to grow up and meet a girl like that!

I didn’t know that sci-fi was not considered literature, it was just fun. Eventually I found authors that I enjoyed and the stories and the characters became a bit more real, and the themes more consistent. Then I saw some of the authors on the news, talking science and learned that writing was a 2nd career .. they were Ph D’s – trained and working in the fields of physics, cosmology, engineering, chemistry, computers, etc.

It’s like I’m taking a home study course in bunch of disciplines (there is real science there) and wondering how these technologies might effect society’s future. In the late 60’s there are very few computers in the entire state of Missouri, Dick Tracy’s wrist device is way in the future, but I learn IBM 360 Assembler while in high school. I take a programming class 1st semester of college, and get hired as a graduate assistant the next, and the news if full of exploits on the “space race”!

So the years begin going buy, and I wonder how many of the fictions I’ve read in these books will become “sci-fact” during my lifetime? And wonder .. could the world disintegrate to the visions of “1984” or “Brave New World”?

Years and then decades wheel by, and I’ve see lots of fiction become fact, seen cultures and countries react in eerily similar ways I’d read about decades earlier, everyone has a computer, our population explodes as resources recede, the computers are connected on the web, and you can strap your smart phone to your wrist if you wish.

Our society accepts Political Correctness as status quo just 20 years after 1984, and the warnings of earlier sci-fi themes are still being ignored. Fishing quotas in the oceans ?, political skirmishes across the planet for water supplies? … the list goes on.

I still wonder how much of the ‘future forecast’ I read will happen and be enjoyed,
but I’m also worried about how much of those forecasts will be ignored,
because the more that is ignored. the more that will have to be endured.

13
Dec
10

garbonzo bean band

Garbonzo Bean Band Event Poster

My sister sent me a link to a video she’d found on YouTube which brought back some old memories of gigs I’d done and bands I’d played with.

Everybody in town knew these guys and I ended up sitting in with them outside of Lindberg’s at the St. Patrick Day parade. Almost every musician in town played with them at one time or another, but especially drummers. John and Chris were the core members and quite often played “walk around” gigs, so drummers were ‘optional’.

I played with them for a year or so and loved every minute of it. The ideal of the band was basically .. “If you’re gonna play for folks, then by gawd, it outa be fun” 🙂

These guys made it fun, and outlandish dress was part of the gig. It wasn’t just music, it was seldom serious, and costumes were required. **

My favorite was was a lime green, pleated, Empire waist pinafore with spaghetti straps.

Most gigs were a bit like performance art and they were all very unique. We played once in the back bedroom at a private New Years party (so we wouldn’t be too loud) and couldn’t see the audience. We quit at 12:30 and visited with them and they said “You guys were great!”.

I’m glad I got to gig with them and have lots of good memories. I’ve got to say that I do not remember recording this video below, but that is me at the set of drums provided for the video.

** I wore pantyhose one evening, and I now know why DRUMMERS DO NOT WEAR PANTYHOSE !!!

09
Dec
10

ify:4 a miracle a minute

The converter box on my TV began to fail the other day and while the new one is winging its way here I’ve been limited to two channels, NBC and the one from Harrison, Ark. which is the religious based DayStar.com. It’s all Christian all day damned day so my viewing has been limited to somewhat sub-standard fare.

No, I do not believe in gods, ghosts, gouls, goblins, devils, witches, saints, vampires, werewolves, miracles, sin or any variant of these mythologies. ‘Tis lunacy to do so. YMMV

What I see on this Judeo-Christian channel does not seem to have changed substantially since I last checked, at least they want the same thing from folk. Primarily it’s the old “don’t think just have faith” and “don’t feel just believe” with a healthy dose of send us your money. This is all done by folks who are obviously superiorly spiritual, who know what their audience does not know, and must have god’s cell number as they talk to him at least daily.

They are embracing the new communication technologies, own their own TV stations, and are totally active on what’s called social media, so I have no doubt they are spreading their message to more folk, and collecting more money to boot. You no longer have to leave the living room to attend a faith healing, and you can watch all sorts of panel/interview shows that feature guests describing their personal miracles. All told, you can get about one miracle a minute.

The sermons are substantially different in content. Sure, you get the normal droning, all based on that particular ‘view of the universe’ that there is a “plan” for all this, and the plan is known and is working as ordained, and you should just hold on as things will be fixed up really-really tidy (pretty soon) and we’ll all live happily ever after. [que Disney style theme music]

Many of these so-called sermons are strictly political, social or economic in nature, and although they are disguised in religion or spirituality, they are no more than stump speeches. These preachers all want to Take Back the country which has been stolen by the Evil Do’ers. It’s no wonder the congregation applauds the fiery speech, rather than shouting hallelujah.

Don’t get me wrong, no matter what I may think of the Abrahamic religions (Islam included), I harbor no hope of changing anyone’s views. I understand that going against the beliefs of perhaps 3-4 billion people would be hard, and that many have to fall back on “I believe this because that’s the way I was raised”.

But here is the scary thing. If you can UN-think enough to believe in these myths, then when, or where, or how will this UN-thinking erupt in your thinking in the future?

Will you enact into law something that says “Life begins at conception”?

Will you enact into law something that defines “Hate” as a criminal offense?

If so, then the next step can only be that thinking itself is a crime.

06
Dec
10

ify:3 radiated baby

Drive through Sequoia

Drive through Sequoia

The folks set out in 1951 with me in tow to see the sights in western America. Sequoia trees, Yosemite, Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam. I find out we have been to Phoenix and Pueblo, CO where sis was born, and other places all over the west. I remember when Mom woke me up inside the Great Sequoia back when the road went through the tree.

The folks took a break from touring in ’54 and found a trailer park in Las Vegas. I rode my bike to kindergarten every day, rolled out the mat for ‘nap time’ on the floor and rode home to play in the desert or swim in the pool at the trailer park. On occasion we cooked out when they blew an A-bomb over at White Sands, totally cool. Some nights dad took me outside and we watched Sputnik circle the globe, once every 90 minutes. Mom had me check with the government a few years ago, we were unfortunately 2 blocks away from the radiation dispersement line for the A-bombs so we can’t get a “reparation payment”. I guess I must be radiation free. 🙂

Chevy Suburban

Chevy Suburban circa 1950 - the orginal SUV

Dad helps build the Showboat casino and saves money, I don’t meet Bugsy on those occasions when we go to the strip. Then we take off for Anchorage, Alaska. Back then you had to have $200 to drive thru Canada. We take about 3 months to get there and I realize much later in life that house and home mean entirely different things, up until now home has been the front seat of a Chevy Suburban or a tent.

This is great, driving thru Canada up the AlCan highway, gravel rattling on the undercarriage, stopping to check out each creek, river and lake. If it passes the test we might camp for a day or a week. Hunting and fishing for grub to go along with a bit of store bought goods.

Just living, having fun.

Anchorage and Mt McKinley

Anchorage and Mt McKinley

Juneau, White Horse and Dawson’s Pass, Skagway with giant totems everywhere. We rent a quonset hut in Anchorage up on top of Government Hill which requires that we share the bathroom the with lady who rents the back half.

Mt. McKinley sits out toward the north and it’s like living in a painting, blue/green glaciers sliding down into the lake in Denali Park. Matanuska Valley is about an hour east where they grow the giant vegetables.

The salmon run twice each day in the creek in downtown Anchorage, silvers and humpbacks are the main catches. From almost anywhere in town you can hear the occasional iceberg calf off in Cooks Inlet.

Space in the schools won’t fit all the kids at once, so we do split days – morning and afternoon shifts. Morning kids keep supplies on the left hand side of the under desk, afternoon kids on the right. Sledding is like the state sport and you can ice skate everywhere downtown. Once a year the place changes completely as downtown is filled with dogs and sleds for the start of the Iditarod, Aleut and Inuit are camped everywhere, and everyone keeps an ear to the radio for the ‘moose alerts’. A scared and hard charging moose running thru the city is a danger to all.

Early in my 3rd year of school there the folks decide my newest baby sister needs to be born in the USofA not in some territory so we wing home on a DC3 to Springfield, Mo. Dad stays on and goes out to Kodiak in the Aleutian Islands to help build up the army base there, as two of the islands had been occupied by Japanese forces during WWII.

So my 8 year long ‘trip’ takes a turn to the unknown land of Ozark Mountains and what’s called house & home.

I’ve learned you don’t lick a flagpole 🙂

04
Dec
10

ify: a custom touch

Red's Giant Hamburg, Route 66, Springfield, Mo

Red's Giant Hamburg

My favorite eatery in Springfield, Red’s Giant Hamburg, was about 15 blocks from the house. A converted former motel/gas station into a cafe. Standard issue was a burger, fries, and root beer from a barrel. Motel courtyard with picnic tables in the back.

World’s 1st drive-thru, you can see the service window on the right of the building. Your options at the window were not what to order, but how many. Ray had the grill right behind the window and separated from Julia and the inside seating. You ordered it and Ray cooked it.

This was before some idiot invented ‘fast food’, back when you went into the gas station and someone came out to fill the tank, clean your window, and chat about the day. Interacting with the necessaries of life was not an inconvenience to hurry through, but a custom touch to savor. We never “waited” for our order at Red’s, it was part of the experience, an anticipation. A bit later Ray set up a speaker at the window and another at the grill and he could chat with customers while he cooked your order.

Later, when Ray set up a speaker out at the end of the hedge (out of his sight) the full drive thru experience was complete and the personal touch was degrading. You were then one step removed from personal as you had to stop out front and order, then pull up to the window. Certainly unnecessary for us ‘old pros’.

Ray brought the order to the window and slid out a large paper tray filled with fries, root beers in the corners, and burgers on top and we’d pull into the back courtyard and have a family dinner on one of the picnic tables.

Back then we took the time to enjoy life, to experience, to revel in it. It didn’t make sense to call it an inconvenience, or turn things into “waiting”. It was always over too soon for me, and I always looked forward to the next visit to Red’s.

In the 80’s some buddies of mine did a video featuring Ray and Julia, so I hope the guys in “The Morells” won’t mind a link to their YouTube video. Please enjoy 🙂 and yes, that IS Ray and Julia.




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