CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE STUMBLED INTO "THE SHALLOW ZONE." WATCH OUT FOR THE ROCKS. SOME OF THEM ARE SHARP.
If you're looking for a blog with meaningful content on the important issues of the day, you've come to the wrong place. This is the shallows, my friend. Nothing but shallowness as far as the eye can see. Let someone else make sense of things. I like it here.

About Me

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I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT
Not that there's any weight to it...
IN A WORLD FILLED WITH COMPLEX POLITICAL ISSUES, SOCIAL INEQUALITY, AND FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY, I CONSIDER IT MY GIFT TO YOU, MY READER, TO OFFER THIS SHALLOW LITTLE HAVEN, WHERE NOTHING IS TOO SHALLOW, TOO INSIGNIFICANT, OR TOO RIDICULOUS TO JUSTIFY OUR ATTENTION. IN OTHER WORDS, IF IT'S NOT IMPORTANT....SO WHAT? NEITHER WAS MARILYN MONROE'S BRA SIZE. AND THAT STILL SELLS MAGAZINES, DOESN'T IT?
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

Saturday, March 2, 2013

RETRO TV AND AGING SENSIBILITIES



So, my friend Belinda Blindsider (yes, that's the name she wants me to use) and I were talking about old TV shows the other day. Like me, Belinda's big on pop culture and her recent discovery of the Retro TV channel on her cable package was akin to an archeologist stumbling across not only The Holy Grail, but the thirteen place settings used by Jesus and his disciples at The Last Supper. "Oh, my God, it's Route 66!" "I can't believe it...Robin Hood!" And while I share Belinda's enthusiasm for retro TV viewing, for me, it's a strangely bittersweet occupation. Route 66? Hell, yeah, loved it in black and white on my grandparents' portable Zenith television set back in the 60's. And it's a real kick watching it now, especially when the episode features an aging, post-shoulder pads, but still eyebrow-heavy Joan Crawford. There's just one thing. How come it's nothing like I remember?


Buz Murdock (George Maharis) and Todd Stiles (Martin Milner) with their gleaming Corvette

From 1960 until 1964, Route 66 hit American TV screens every Friday night, giving all the people sitting in their living rooms watching it a chance to see two hip young men, Martin Milner as "Todd Stiles" and George Maharis as "Buz Murdock" (who was replaced in the third season by Glenn Corbett as "Lincoln Case") driving around the country in their Chevrolet Corvette and having the kinds of exciting adventures that only hip young men in Chevrolet Corvettes can have while driving around the country. And even though the show was called Route 66 after the famous and now defunct U.S. highway, Todd and Buz (and later Lincoln) took their special brand of adventurous fun all over the lower 48 states and even ventured once or twice into Canada. And the guest stars! Joan Crawford was only one name on a long list that was a veritable who's who of Hollywood has-beens, 1960's TV A-listers, and future legends: Robert Duvall, Tina Louise, Lon Chaney, Peter Lorre, Ed Asner, Lee Marvin, William Shatner, Rod Steiger, Robert Redford, and (my favorite) a pre-Catwoman Julie Newmar, to name but a few. Each week, Todd and Buz (and later Lincoln) would drive into a town or city in their gleaming Corvette, encounter one of the aforementioned stars, and somehow end up involved in their personal problems, which, by the time the credits rolled at the end of the episode, they had managed to either solve or somehow make less annoying by the sheer excitement of their presence. And each week, I would watch raptly as it all took place before my eyes, all the while nursing a secret crush on Buz (but not on Lincoln) who, even at my tender age, I knew to be the "hot" member of the duo (although I wouldn't have minded having Todd as a big brother).


George Maharis and Julie Newmar bond over a mutual love of fast cars and motorcycles

But now, some 50-odd years later, even though I still have fond memories of the show, the thrill is decidedly gone. Watching it the other night was like flipping through the pages of my high school yearbook. Sure, I remember what it was like to wear cowl neck sweaters and painters pants, but the memory lacks the fizz of pleasure I felt when actually wearing those things. Hell, considering how ridiculous those pictures of myself in cowl neck sweaters and painters pants look to me now, I'm not even sure how I dared to walk around wearing them at all. It's the same thing with Route 66. The Corvette's still gleaming, Todd and Buz are still the same two fun-loving, hip guys, and the show still has one of the greatest theme songs of all time, but what happened to the fizz?

I had a similar problem watching episodes of Alfred Hithcock Presents.


The famous sillhouette that sent shivers down my spine

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (the name was changed to The Alfred Hitchcock Hour for the last year of the series) ran from 1955 until 1965, and was, during its tenure on the airwaves, one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television. Like Route 66, it had a top notch theme song, Funeral March Of An Marionette by Charles Gounod, with played at the beginning of each episode underscoring a close-up of Alfred Hitchcock's sillhouette which was soon eclipsed by the shadowed sideways figure of the director himself. It was a brilliant, extremely striking introduction to the show, but although I appreciate it now, back then, I found it absolutely terrifying. Too young to really understand the complexities of the individual episodes, my response to the show was tied to the music, which I found eerie, and the image of Hitchcock, which made me think of evil, dark beings from "below." Hitchcock's droll, idiosyncratic introduction to the evening's episode only added to the unsettling atmosphere that seemed to hang over the show. Because it came on after I was already in bed, I never watched it directly during it's original run, but I could hear it from my bedroom, and if I twisted my body just the right way in bed, I could see Hitchcock on the TV screen. I'd shout "Don't watch that show!"and then bury my head under the covers so that I wouldn't hear that sardonic, English-accented voice anymore. Years after the show went off the air, I still believed that it had been completely deserving of the fear that enveloped me as I lay there cowering in the dark.


Alfred Hitchcock as a gravedigger was just an exercise in drollness, but how was I to know?

But of course now I know the truth. Watching episodes of the classic anthology series, I'm hard-pressed to dredge up even a modicum of terror in response to what I see on the TV screen. How can I be frightened when I'm so busy trying to figure out the clever twist that always comes at the end? And frightened of Alfred Hitchcock? What was I thinking? The man's a frustrated comedian in a three-piece suit and skinny tie, working as hard as he can to make the TV audience laugh with him so that they won't laugh at him. If anything, I want to go back in time and tell him not to look so sad because he will go down in history as one of the most influential directors of all time. For all of the feelings of terror I once associated with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the only one to which I can still connect is the shiver that came over me whenever I heard that theme song. All these years later, I'm still frightened of marionettes, those spooky, string-manipulated cousins of my all-time greatest horror: mannequins. But the theme song? Don't be silly. It's just a song.


So, what have I learned from my new friendship with retro TV viewing? Well, for one, that nothing stays the same...whether it's feelings, attitudes, or memories. It's all malleable and subject to change. And that Thomas Wolfe had it only partially right. You can go home again. At least if they'll still let you in. You just won't be the same person when you walk through the door.

Skol!

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