SHARING MY WORLD – 2015, WEEK 34

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #34

Was school easy or difficult for you? How so?

I was always good at memorizing information for short periods. I was one of those kids that could not go to class all year, cram the night before the test, then ace it. Until I bumped into hard sciences and mathematics. At which point, I learned humility in a hurry.

72-OIL-school bus Which-Way_06

But over all, since I wasn’t a math or science major, school was easy. I worked very hard in classes that interested me, barely bothered to do anything if I it didn’t grab my interest. I got a lot out of college, more on the job after getting my B.A.

School is where you begin your education. Life is where you earn advanced degrees.

What is your favorite animal?

As in to own? As a pet? Dogs, with cats and ferrets a close second. I like parrots, too.

dogs with bishop and gar

But in the greater world of animals, I love elephants and lions and tigers and rhinoceroses. Deer and moose. Bears. Wild birds and wolves. I love them all and mourn every loss.

If you had to have your vision corrected would you rather: glasses or contacts?

I can’t wear contacts, so it’s a moot point for me. I will wear glasses … three different strengths … because I can’t see without them.

List:  Name at least five television shows (past or present) you enjoyed?

At my age, I have loved a great many shows. So. Let’s limit this to the shows we currently watch and love. Otherwise, it simply gets way out of hand.

72-Garry-NCIS-Uxbridge_01

NCIS, Castle, House Of Cards, Bosch, Firefly, Star Trek (all permutations). There are so many more.

BW TV cameras

Original and in reruns, I have seen the evolution of television from relatively primitive to today. I’m sure I’ll live to see interactive TV where in addition to annoying advertisements, there will be annoying requirements I answer questions or input other information. I can hardly wait.

TOP TELEVISION THEME SONGS

Drama Division, by Rich Paschall

You have clearly been waiting patiently for the coming of my next top 10 list.  Well, wait no more.  I have diligently gone through the memory banks to produce a list for you.  After compiling a hefty list of TV theme songs, I find that I had to limit the category.  Out went the novelty songs like The Addams Family and Gilligan’s Island.  Out too were the comedy themes of note like Welcome Back, Kotter and the theme from Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

We could not include your cartoon favorites or even the great pieces written for news broadcasts or special events.  The Olympics theme that NBC gets to overuse with each Olympics is a stand out piece introduced in 1984 and easily recognizable now.  I could make a case for a hundred songs if I did not find a theme for this list, so drama shows is the category.

Now I admit I do not watch a lot of television shows anymore, aside from sports, so most of these will not be of recent vintage.  But it is uniquely my list and may include few of your favorites.  Please add to the list in the comments below.

Getting an honorable mention is the theme from MASH.  You may say that it is a comedy, but many considered it a serious show with some dark humor tossed in.  Also, the theme song, Suicide Is Painless, was actually written for the movie and wisely used without the words for the television show.  Along with the series, the theme reached iconic status.

Another honorable mention goes to the Star Trek themes.  Many will tell you that the second series, The Next Generation, improved upon the original song, scripts, and special effects.  I still like the original series with William Shatner chewing up the scenery at every chance.

10.  Believe It Or Not, The Greatest American Hero. The unlikely hero of this show (William Katt) gets a super hero suit, but no instructions. The recording by singer Joey Scarbury stayed 18 weeks on the Top 40 and made it to number 2 in August of 1981.

9. Hill Street Blues theme, by Mike Post who also co-authored Believe It Or Not. The 1980’s cops drama was a critical success and ran 7 seasons.

8. Rockford Files theme, Mike Post teamed up with yet another person to pen this tune. The 1970’s detective drama starred James Garner and ran 6 seasons.

7. Bonanza. This instantly recognizable theme was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the long running television western. The insanely talented songwriting duo also gave us the theme to Mr. Ed and the Christmas classic, Silver Bells, among many others.

6. Hawaii Five-0. The iconic tune was updated and reused for the current series. There’s not much difference to my ears.

5. A few notes in and you will immediately know the music for the spy thriller Mission Impossible. The show is pretty dated now, but still fun to watch. Here Lalo Schifrin plays his famous composition:

4. Rawhide launched the career of Clint Eastwood. The theme song was not written for the Blues Brothers movie, as some might think, but instead for this much earlier classic western series. The vocal by Frankie Laine was a big hit.

3. Doctor Who theme. The current theme is an updated version of the original but is still pretty good. Can you imagine the Doctor travelling in the tardis to any other music? Here are all the versions, just in case you need them.

2. Perry Mason theme For some unknown reason, this did not even make some lists I reviewed. I think it fits the show perfectly. It was reused in a series of Perry Mason movies long after the television series. The movies also starred Raymond Burr as the lawyer who never loses.

1. The best television theme was the classic tune by Henry Mancini for Peter Gunn. The private detective series featured jazz music like any good film noir detective movie of the 1950’s. The music was also recycled in the Blues Brothers movie. Mancini won an Emmy Award for the music and a Grammy for the album.

Sources:

Believe It or Not, Wikipedia
Livingston and Evans
Peter Gunn, Wikipedia

Next week: Top Television Theme Songs II, Comedy Division

ROMANTIC SNOBBERY

It isn’t just culture that divides us into classes. What we watch on television, see in the movies, and read also puts us into a category, often unfairly by people who don’t “get” why we like what we like.

72-ct-books_05

I read a post about how dreadful — yet gripping — romance novels can be. The not-so-subtle insinuation is that anyone who reads them is probably not too bright. While it’s true that romance novels are the potato chips of the literary world (bet you can’t eat just one) that’s not the point.

double dip in bookcase

As a former editor of the Doubleday Romance Library, I assure you that research showed readers of romance novels are better educated than most readers.

They read romance novels because they are pulp. These readers aren’t looking to be informed or improved, to have their world expanded, reading-level or awareness raised. They want a book they can pick up, read, put down, and forget. If life gets in the way, they can just never finish the story — without regret.

72--cook books_07

I read each 3-book volume, every month. Three romances: 2 modern with a Gothic sandwiched between. Every novel had the same plot, the same outcome. They sold gangbusters.

Regardless of what we, as writers, would prefer people enjoy, people don’t always read good books. I often avoid “good” books. I don’t want to go where that book would take me. I’m not stupid or lacking in culture. I just don’t want to read it. Don’t enjoy the subject matter. Don’t need to be further depressed by the ugly realities of life or history.

Good books can be too intense, too serious, or educational for this moment in time. Too close to reality. I read to be entertained. I’m not seeking enlightenment through literature. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I am no longer seeking enlightenment through literature. If I ain’t enlightened by now, I’m pretty sure it won’t happen in this lifetime.

75-Books and stuffNK-1

The wondrous thing about the world of books is there are so many. Enough genres, themes, and styles for everyone. An infinity of literature. No matter what your taste — low-brow, high-brow, middle-brow, no-brow — there are thousands of books waiting for you. That’s good. I’d rather see someone reading a bad book than no book.

75-BooksHP

I’m not a culture snob. I think reading crappy novels is fine if you like them. Watching bad TV is fine too.

Snobs suck the fun out of reading. While I’m not a fan of romance novels, if you are, that’s okay with me. I love reading about vampires and witches. I’d be more than a hypocrite to act as if your taste is inferior to mine.

old favorite books

These days, I’m rarely in the mood for anything serious — except maybe a conversation. Tastes change over time. Life has been a very serious business for me. When I read, watch TV, or see a movie, I want to escape, Reality will still be there when I get back.

Finally, my favorite professor at university — a man I believe was profound and wise — was a big fan of Mickey Spillane. He said there was a much truth in those books. I believe for him, there was.

AUGUST ANGST – NCIS: UXBRIDGE

DATELINE UXBRIDGE: Chapter 2: EVIL UNDERBELLY OF A SMALL TOWNGarry Armstrong, Reporting

On the surface, it seemed like a normal day in Uxbridge. But intelligence reports warned us not to be lulled into a false sense of security.

72-Main-St-Uxbridge-GA_060

72-Flags-Wires-Uxbridge-GA_101

Yes, it seemed idyllic. Traffic was moving smoothly through the town’s main intersection. There was non of the usual slow driver traffic clog that’s typical of an August Friday afternoon.

72-Teens-Uxbridge-GA_015

72-Uxbridge-GA-Downtown_040

Perhaps we should have noticed how quiet things were on the town green. This is the height of tourist season. People come from across the country to capture our bit of small town America.

Yes, suspiciously quiet.

72-Garry-NCIS-Uxbridge_01

A short distance away, the new NCIS Uxbridge team leader sensed something was wrong. His gut told him the serenity was  cover for a local sleeper cell.

72-Garry-NCIS-Uxbridge_04

This NCIS bureau chief was handpicked by the legendary Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Word had it the Uxbridge guy had worked deep cover with Gibbs, taking out mercs who threatened our nation’s security. Gibbs apparently trusted his Uxbridge peer, who some referred to as “a functional mute.”

Word filtered through Uxbridge.

72-Library-Uxbridge-GA-Downtown_078

The town library closed early. No teenagers gathered on the town common usually a popular hang out spot. BOLOs had been posted by the local LEOs for unspecified persons and vehicles but they offered few details, referring all inquiries to the new NCIS team.

72-Uxbridge-GA-Statue_104

72-Uxbridge-GA-Downtown_005

But a badge was the only information supplied by any who questioned the new NCIS guy. Maybe it was the look on his face. Perhaps it was his rigid body stance that spoke volumes to those with loose lips.

72-Garry-NCIS-Uxbridge_07

72-Uxbridge-GA-Dam_126

Uxbridge is now on the grid for everyone — FBI, CIA, DAR, NRA, NSA, Homeland Security. They’ve probably planted moles and undercover agents everywhere. But make no mistake. In this town, NCIS is the top dog. In charge.

Grab your gear!

72-Dam-Uxbridge-GA_109

NOTE: All photos taken using a Pentax Q7.

THE EVIL UNDERBELLY OF A SMALL TOWN

COMING TO YOUR TELEVISION THIS SEASON! (Not really)
EXPLORING THE EVIL UNDERBELLY OF SMALL TOWN LIFE — NCIS UXBRIDGE

Okay, so we don’t have a piece of ocean. We’ve got plenty of river. It’s wet. Lake, ocean, what’s the difference, right?

72-RiverBend-Gar_001

Uxbridge, a small town in south central Massachusetts, has no Navy or Marine presence. No Naval station or training camp. No docks, no seaport. And we don’t have a forensics lab, but we can build one. It may take a while. We do have a jail. All it needs is a little cleanup.

uxbridge jail

With Mark Harmon’s unexpected retirement, Garry’s lifelong ambition to be a star has arrived. In his new role of NCIS team leader, the pace will be a little slower, but Garry’s wry humor will quickly win the hearts and minds of fans throughout the world.

Garry at River Bend

I shall play the role of the crusty old medical examiner. My bad back, heart, and hips make me an unlikely choice for a field agent, but the dead don’t run fast. All the medical knowledge I’ve gleaned from being sick for years will come in handy when I have to use those twenty syllable medical terms.

72-Birthday-Marilyn-GAR_06

I’ll cast my best friend as a very special agent. I’m pretty sure if she were to get the Gibb’s back-of-the-head slap, she’d hit him back and he’d know he’d been hit. Hands off, big fella.

My granddaughter will run the lab. Though she knows nothing about forensics, she’s a quick learner. Besides, she’ll love the Goth costumes and she has plenty of tattoos.

Manchaug dam

Finally, there’s the mandatory geek agent. I’ll give that to my son because he knows his way around a computer and he likes to fix stuff anyhow. He will fit right in as he explains exactly how things should work and whatever you did wrong to screw up the machine.

See you next week, same time, same station.

SUCH GOOD FRIENDS

Yesterday, we gathered to celebrate the life of a friend who passed away earlier this year.

Our friend was Joe Day. Joe’s name should be familiar to those who’ve lived in New England during the past forty years. He was a highly respected TV news reporter for four of Boston’s major television stations (WHDH, WCVB, WGBH, WBZ). Joe specialized in politics. He covered presidents, governors, senators, congressmen and local elective officials.

But many of us fondly remember Joe’s “people” stories, vignettes about everyday folks living their lives in relative obscurity. That was Joe at his best. On and off camera, he was a modest, plain-spoken guy despite the richly deserved awards he received which recognized his career.

Yesterday, there were smiles and tears as people shared stories about Joe. We were mostly the generation of “old fart” journalists, recalling the days when news wasn’t just a business. Joe Day was at the core of all those memories.

It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces. We have drifted apart geographically and socially in many cases. Sometimes we paused before hugging because we no longer look the way we did in our “head shot” days.

Joe Day’s family marveled at the size of the gathering. It’s one thing to send an email or video tribute. But to turn out in impressive numbers on a hot August Saturday, that says so much about how Joe touched the lives of people around him.

Fame is fleeting and transitory in TV news. Friendship is another thing. Usually it fades quickly after changing jobs, states and retirement. You always mean to stay in touch but it rarely happens.

That’s what makes the celebratory gathering so special. All those folks bonding in their memories of yesterday when our world was young and Joe Day touched our lives, making each one of us a little better just for knowing him.

Such good friends.

WEATHER’S COMING!

I live in the Blackstone Valley where no one tells you nothing. When weather people stand in the studio and do their predicting, they position themselves so you can see the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Except where we live because that’s where they stand.

72-Kayay-GA-Sunny-Sunday_081

I asked our friend, the trustworthy meteorologist (there is one and he is it) about this. He said, “Well, we have to stand somewhere.” But on his next broadcast, he moved aside for a few seconds so that I could see the map. Thanks!

When anyone mentions the valley at all, it’s Worcester. The rest of our towns don’t exist. I have learned to read weather maps because I’m not going to get information any other way. Dinosaurs could be roaming the Valley, and no one would notice unless one of them ate a tourist.

t-rex

Now that we’re turning the corner to warm weather, I can take a deep breath and relax. It’s a quiet weather period, usually.

The past couple of months gave us a big dose of weather frenzy. Most of it was on the money, unlike previous winters when the frenzy exceeded reality by 100%, give or take a few points. I was numb from the hyperbole of previous years, so I ignored the warnings. When the first, huge blizzard hit at the end of January, we were unprepared. I hadn’t even bought extra groceries.

72-One-More-Blizzard_07

The frenzy isn’t harmless.

Weather sells. It pulls in viewers. When hurricanes or blizzards threaten, people who normally don’t watch the news tune in. Higher ratings, lots of teasers.

“Seven feet of snow on the way!! Will you be buried tomorrow? Story at 11!” It’s money in the bank. Doom is a perennial best-seller.

72-Blizzard_024

TV stations like to whip everyone into a frenzy. It’s good business. Weather predictions don’t carry issues of journalistic responsibility. No one can call you to task for being wrong because, after all, it’s the weather.

The frenzy is not harmless. Every weather event is presented as if it’s the end of the world. It’s impossible to figure out if this next thing is serious or more of the same.

Should we lay in supplies? Ignore it? Plan to evacuate? Fill all the water containers? Cancel travel plans? Make travel plans? Head for public shelters?

72-On-The-Road_042

Hysteria is exhausting and worse, it’s numbing. Some of us worry about the possibility of weeks without electricity. Telling us our world is ending is upsetting if you believe it. It is even more dangerous if it’s serious, and we don’t believe it.

They shouldn’t say that stuff unless it’s true. Or might be true. At the least, it’s rude to scare us to death, and then say “Sorry folks.”

You can’t unring the bell. When the real deal occurs — as it did this winter — we don’t listen. Weather forecasting may not be legally subject to standards or accuracy, but maintaining credibility might be worthwhile. I’m just saying, you know?