Monday, July 20, 2015

We Came in Peace...

It's hard to believe that it's now 46 years since Apollo 11's Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin climbed down the Eagle's ladder the first earthlings to set foot on the Moon. As NASA notes, that was only 8 years after after Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard were the first men in outer space. It was an exciting time to be a boy growing up, watching adventures like this live on (our black-and-white) TV. I remember, too, the almost-unbearably loud rumble of Saturn V engines being tested at the nearby Rocketdyne facility.

At a conference not long after returning home, Armstrong called it their flight "a beginning of a new age" and Michael Collins, who orbited the Moon by himself in Columbia as his crewmates walked on the lunar surface, spoke of future journeys to Mars. Well, folks, that was in 1969. Who would have believed that in 2015, one would be hoping that NASA might next send astronauts near (but not onto) the Moon within another 8 years.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

The Real Fireworks

Written 239 years ago, the Declaration of Independence is more than stirring words. We read it still today not only to recall the nation's founding. We read it to measure how well we remain true to the American Revolution. Reposted from 4 years ago and 6 years ago today on this blog and 8 years ago on my other blog.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Ah, the Memories He Stirs Up

It was some time in the mid-'60s that we went to the Hollywood Bowl and saw my (then) favorite TV actor perform. I remember enjoying him singing and dancing. Now Dick Van Dyke is 89-years-old, but as this recent music video by The Dustbowl Revival shows, he still has the moves. The song's fun, too!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Black Friday

Today is the real Black Friday.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Perfect Birthday...

...because growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, I heard this every Monday through Friday during Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade until I started first grade. And, since I had the record, a whole lot more times until I wore it out.

Scheduled to post on the 56th minute of St. Patrick's Day, Pacific Standard Time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Campaigning for Bishop (or Pastor)

The office of the bishop is political in the best sense of that term. Many of Basil [of Caesarea]'s letters reflect situations of high political intrigue where Basil extended the power and authority of his specific see to shore up and support the struggling churches in outlying areas or areas where orthodoxy had only a fragile hold on the clergy and people. Frequently he intervened in episcopal elections urging the clergy and people to elect a man who would be faithful to the traditions oreceived fromt he apostles and the fathers.... What we gain from Basil's handing of a crisis such as this is a good conception of the historic continuity in shaping the character of the pastoral office. As bishop one is not only placed into a congregation which extends back several years or even several generations, but as bishop one has a responsibility to be faithful to the totality of the Christian experience as it has unfolded over the course of centuries. There is a corporate identity to the church which cannot be reduced to the sum total of the present situation, for in defining what it means to be Christian the totality of the Christian past must be taken into consideration. Basil's point is that the office of the pastor is one of the chief means by which the Church is able to maintain and articulate the meaning of Christian faith from generation to generation.

In Basil's own situation such awareness gave him freedom, for it allowed him to look beyond the immediate squabble with Arianism and the allinace of Arianism with the emperor. Perhaps Basil's comments have a conservative ring to our [modern] ears, for those who today frequently call for loyalty to the past are really hindering our dealing with the present and restricting our freedom to cope with the future. But I doubt wheter this is really the case, for the past about which they speak is frequently the immediate past.... Seldom is it a appeal to the fullness of the tradition, a genuine catholic attempt to see the Church in larger terms than our immediate denominational tradition.... They usually mean the tradition of the last fifty of seventy-five years.
Robert L. Wilken, "The Practice of Piety: Basil of Caesarea and the Pastor Office," Una Sancta (24:4, Christmass, 1967), 79-80, as it appears in the March 2015 issue of Forum Letter which arrived in today's mail.

Pondering...

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Bad Day for L.A. Media: RIP Gary Owens

And as soon as I finish one post, another familiar name shows up "trending" on Facebook. Gary Owens died yesterday at the age of 80. Most famous, perhaps, as the announcer from "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and still heard as the voice of Antenna TV, Garish had the 3-6 pm shift on KMPC 710, the radio station I listened to the most growing up.

"The Nurny Song" (not only sung by the "staff" singers, but by just about every recording artist of the '60s and '70s, including The Carpenters and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir); the words "insegrevious," "fnork," and "krelb;" an autographed picture of the Harbor Freeway; Krellman; Earl C. Festoon; the "Gary Owens Rumor of the Day;" "The Story Lady" (nearly 300 episodes are currently available at that link); speaking to or of "Wayne Doo" (KMPC engineer Wayne DuBois); and the Zookmeister Broadcasting System. Good music, news and traffic reports, and plenty of promotions with Dick Enberg, announcer for the (then) California Angels -- KMPC and the Angels were both owned by Gene Autry, who also owned KTLA channel 5. Ending a finance company commercial with, "and there are 29 offices within the sound of my voice. And now," speaking much louder, "there are 57 offices within the sound of my voice."

Yet in all that non-stop zaniness, he was also a consummate professional. Here's an aircheck, unfortunately it begins a bit wobbly, from his Sept 17, 1970, KMPC broadcast. (Note that in air checks the middle of songs and commercials are frequently cut out.) Oh, the memories this brings to me!



Stan Chambers, Gary Owens... I hope I'm not back in a krenellemuffin.

RIP: L.A.'s TV Reporter Stan Chambers

On a Friday afternoon in the spring of 1949, 3½-year-old Kathy Fiscus fell into an abandoned well in San Marino, California, and a rescue attempt was begun. Newspapers and radio stations covered as an anxious city (and eventually the nation) followed the story. At some point during the rescue, someone at KTLA Channel 5, the first commerically licensed TV station in the western US, thought to send a camera crew. And for 27½ hours, Stan Chambers stood before and beside the camera telling viewers -- this was the early days of television, so perhaps 20,000 people were able to watch at home -- what they were watching on their screens, including the sad news that Kathy had died long before her rescuers reached her. This was the first on-the-scene live TV coverage of a breaking news story. It would not be the last, for television or for Stan Chambers. Sales of televisions skyrocketed.

While it would be several years before KTLA had a regular news broadcast, they'd broadcast special news events live and Stan Chambers was usually the guy on screen reporting. The testing of an atom bomb in Nevada. Brush fires all across the Southland. Floods, earthquakes, riots. He covered the assissination of Bobby Kennedy and broke the story beating of Rodney King. And Stan reported good news, too, not the least of which was the Rose Parade (which, if you cannot be there in person, is still best watched on KTLA [Thank God for the internet!]). I saw him report hundreds of stories on Channel 5's News at 10 living in LA. And he continued this until he retired in 2010 at the age of 87, after 63 years at KTLA and in the homes of Angelenos.

A little while ago, "Stan Chambers" started appearing on the "trending" portion of my Facebook page, dying today at the age of 91. A true television pioneer. RIP, Stan Chambers. Here's one of KTLA's tributes.