This blog is about serendipity. Not because it’s on a blog called Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life On Earth (the last part is asking a lot). It’s about actual serendipity.

The dictionary defines the word Serendipity this way: “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” This story is a perfect example of serendipity at its finest.

I retired more than 10 years ago. I was fortunate to be able to retire at age 60.

I have not for one second regretted my decision. Retirement is awesome! I get to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. I even have a little sign Ellin gave me that sits on my end table. It says:

I don’t want to.
I don’t have to.
You can’t make me.
I’m retired.

Being retired is basically being on vacation all the time! As the years passed pleasantly by, I used to joke that if I was on vacation all the time, that’s basically my job. If that’s my job, how can I go on vacation if being on vacation is my job.

About a year ago, the weirdest thing happened. I had a bit of a midlife crisis which at 71 is not easy to do. I realized I was getting a little tired of always being on vacation. The joy of a vacation is that it gives you a break from your normal life. It gives you perspective.

Then it hit me. I wanted to go back to work. Except the thought of actually going back to a real job, with bosses, commutes, offices, microwaved fish and all the other shit that goes with working was completely out of the question. I don’t want to work for anybody.

I decided I’d like to work from home. The only problem is the work I engaged in for more than 40 years was in Network Television and Radio. I worked at the CBS Broadcast Center, a really, really big building with many large TV studios and control rooms. If I wanted to go back to work doing what I used to do and do it from home, I would need at least:

  1. A studio
  2. A control room.

This could be a problem. Then I realized that I did already have a studio. About 10 years ago I converted the playroom in our basement into an audio recording studio for our audio theater group VoiceScapes Audio Theater. It is insulated for sound and I had numerous types of microphones, mic stands and mixers.

I also had a two little video cameras that shot in HD and 4K. I used them to record our VoiceScapes live performances.

Now all I needed was a set. For years I ran a green screen studio for CBS MarketWatch. All my sets were virtual. So, all I needed was a green screen and some professional lighting. Back when I was working that would have cost thousands of dollars. But due to Covid and three years of Zoom calls, I found I could buy a green screen, white screen and black screen with four professional lighting sets for $150 dollars. Wow. So, I did.

Now my only problem was a control room. More specifically all the stuff that goes into a control room. Like video switchers, editing equipment, and so on. Again, thousands of dollars. At this point I’m sure some of you are asking,

“What the hell does any of this have to do with Serendipity!?”

Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

About a year ago, my son, David gave me his “PC Gaming computer.” It’s huge. It weighs, I don’t know, a lot.

It’s about 8 years old but it’s got a huge graphics card. I had recently downloaded a program called Davinci Resolve, a video editing suite. It wouldn’t run on my laptop, but it did run on this PC. On a whim I bought the software and installed it. Then I started to see what it could do. Turns out it could do everything I used to do when I ran my studio at CBS. But now, I could do it in 4K! This is the same software they use to edit movies. Real ones, like “The Avengers.”

All of a sudden I had a studio, and I had the software to make a TV show. Now all I needed was a TV show.

For some strange reason, the phrase “Get Off My Lawn!” popped into my head. I don’t know why but it made me laugh. Whenever I mentioned the name to other people, they laughed. Great, now all I needed was an actual show. And more importantly, scripts.

Then I realized that I had scripts! They were all the blogs I’ve been writing for Serendipity for the last five years. They were all basically me ranting about whatever was funny or pissing me off at the time. I wrote them as video packages because that was what I was used to doing. So the perfect venue to record these old blogs would be an old curmudgeon ranting about shit that he thought was funny or just pissing him off. Hence the creation of Get Off My Lawn! With Tom Curley.

I have quite a few in the can now and I’m happy to say it’s a huge hit. Literally tens of people all over the world have enjoyed it! (Be sure to click and subscribe).

But this was all pre-produced. Most of my career was doing live TV. There was no way I could do that at home. Once again, Serendipity struck. My daughter Sarah got me another video camera for Xmas/Hanukkah.

It was a newer model of the two I already owned and it had a feature the other two didn’t have. I could plug the output of my professional audio mixer directly into the camera, bypassing the built in one. Why does this matter? Well, the old cameras had no way to plug in the professional audio output from my mixer. I had to use the editing software to synch the video I shot with the recording from my mixer This new model solved that problem. I could broadcast live with the audio from my mixer.

By this point I already had an account with a service called Vimeo. It’s a video hosting site. I was paying 10 to 20 dollars a month for space on their server. I soon learned that they had software that would allow me to stream live TV using the cameras I already owned. It’s a professional TV switcher like the ones I used at CBS .

The problem was I had to upgrade to the 50 dollar a month plan. I was talking about this with Sarah and I made the comment that I would love to use the software but I wasn’t going to spend 5000 dollars a year for the service. She looked at me and said

“That’s not 5000, it’s more like 500.”  She was polite enough not to add “you moron,” but I know she was thinking it. So I got the software. It works! Now I can do a live TV show from my basement studio.

Only problem? I needed a show.

Serendipity struck again. When Marilyn asked me to start writing blogs for this site, our plan was for me to tell all old war stories from my days at CBS, ABC and WVHC at Hofstra University. The thing was, I never did that. I got sidetracked by what was going on in the world. Mostly with the Former Guy.

Both Marilyn and my wife Ellin have be pestering Garry and me to write these stories down. We knew it wasn’t gonna happen. We’re too lazy. On the other hand, we have no problem telling the stories.

So there it was. I can do a live TV show with Garry and any old buddies he and I can gather up and tell these crazy, behind the scenes stories from our past. So I created:

War Stories! Behind The Scenes Stories From The Front Lines Of The Media!

The first episode has Garry and me talking about our beginnings at WVHC and tales from our time at the ABC Radio Network. And Garry ends the show with an absolutely amazing story about going to Vietnam and meeting LBJ.

So there you have it, a new show that is going to have lots and lots of episodes because we have lots and lots of stories.

It’s all because of SERENDIPITY:

The serendipity of my son giving me his old PC;
The serendipity of my daughter giving me an updated camera and teaching me math;
And the serendipity of Marilyn creating a blog called Serendipity and asking me to write for it.

If that isn’t the definition of serendipity. I don’t know what is.

P.S. Now, get off my lawn!

Categories: #News, Anecdote, Media, podcast, reporting, Television, Video, War Stories

Tags: , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. I retired and that lasted three weeks. I went back to work part-time for a few months and that has now lasted 13 months. Today I ranted (vented is probably more accurate) at an outside sales rep. She asked me when I was going to retire for good.

    I have no war stories but if you ever need someone to rant or tell people to get off the lawn, I have experience with that.


  2. A finely crafted — and funny — part of the backstory. We have a long backstory, don’t we!


  3. Tom, an absolutely superb back story to your/our new podcast venture. The world knows I’m a tech klutz and I harbor no illusions about conquering those shortcomings. Still, I marveled at your description of putting your studio together. Sort of a state of the art McGuyver, you are – my faithful companion.

    I’m looking forward to our next show. ROLL EVERYTHING!

    Liked by 1 person

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