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.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

My Ultreya Talk

At the invitation/encouragement of some parishioners, I made a Cursillo in 1994. I've remained part of that community ever since, even as we also started Via de Cristo, a Lutheran version of the Cursillo, here in the Heart of Illinois in 1997.

The Cursillo begins as a 72-hour "short course" in Christianity in a retreat-like setting, with 15 talks by laity and clergy, each followed by small group discussion, with time for prayer, worship, etc. And comes the Fourth Day, that is, the rest of your life. Part of that is the monthly Ultreya, which the Peoria Cursillo website describes as "reunions of the Peoria Cursillo community at-large and are open to invited guests. They afford Cursillistas an opportunity to meet, pray and socialize with others who are dedicated to living a Christian life. They also provide support for a Cursillista's efforts to bring Christ's message to others in His environment."

Part of that "support" is the Ultreya Talk, usually given by a lay person or couple, witnessing to their faith journey as they continue in their Fourth Day. But occasionally, a clergy Cursillista gives the talk, and at Saturday evening's Ultreya that was me. And if you'd like, you can listen to it beginning about 11:45 into the recording embedded to this post. ¡De colores!



Thanks to Fr. Terry Cassidy, pastor at St. Ann's Church.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year!!

A blessed and prosperous 2015 to you all.

This seems better than Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga -- Guy Lombardo, for the New Year of 1977.

Then you can go back to last New Year's Day and watch "Auld Lang Syne" with Guy Lombardo from 1958.



Friday, November 28, 2014

The Day after Thanksgiving

Working in the Cashier's Cage at Sears Northridge beginning in 1997, the day after Thanksgiving was much like any other day -- except the store and the mall were much more crowed.

The day after the day after Thanksgiving was a whole 'nother thing. Our chief task in the cage was to count the store's cash receipts from the day before. In those days, most people used cash or checks. Normally we'd finish the counting around lunch time; busy days it would be the mid-afternoon. Saturday's receipts, usually the bigest sales day of the week, took the entire Sunday shift -- 11 to 5 in those days. The day after Thanksgiving, however, was the biggest sales day of the year, and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, even with the full staff, we were lucky to get everything counted before the store closed that evening. Forget any of the paperwork. Yes, the rest of the days until Christmas would all be long days, but the day after the Day after Thanksgiving was always the longest.

Only one Black Friday offers eternal savings. [image of Golgotha]
I did that each year from 1977-1984. And through the end of 1987 I was in that same Sears store, though by then in the Sears Savings Bank branch inside it. Eleven Days after Thanksgiving I worked in retail, the biggest sales day of the year. It was called "the day after Thanksgiving." Never "Black Friday."

Until I had been a Pastor here in Peoria for a few years, "Black Friday" had only one meaning. It was an alternate name for Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "Black" because historically that was the color you would find in Anglican, Lutheran, and other churches on this Friday the banks, stock exchange, and many other enterprises closed early at Noon so people could go to church. Black Friday would never fall in November, because it is the Friday before Easter, in April or late March. Black Friday would be the day of the fewest, not the most, cash receipts.

Today is the Day after Thanksgiving.

And unless I absolutely must purchase something today, you won't find me in a department store or at the mall. They're way too crowded for me. You won't find me there next Black Friday -- Good Friday, that is, April 3, 2015 -- either. Of course, that will have nothing to do with crowded stores, and everything to do with eternal savings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The President Invites You to Church

I've been waiting for it all day, and now it's here: the Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day 2014. Actually, given its history, I'm a bit surprised I had to wait until this afternoon before it was finally available. But here it is, the President's invitation for you to worship at Zion -- or another nearby church -- for Thanksgiving Day.

And thus, the Chapel at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria will be open today, the eve of Thanksgiving Day (November 26, 2014) for prayer and Holy Communion beginning at 7 o'clock. You are welcome to join us -- we're at the corner of Easton and Hayes, one block west of the intersection of Jefferson and Western, on the South Side of Peoria. Fellowship and refreshments follow!

THANKSGIVING DAY, 2014

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Thanksgiving Day invites us to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the freedoms we cherish. As we gather with family and friends to take part in this uniquely American celebration, we give thanks for the extraordinary opportunities we have in a Nation of limitless possibilities, and we pay tribute to all those who defend our Union as members of our Armed Forces. This holiday reminds us to show compassion and concern for people we have never met and deep gratitude toward those who have sacrificed to help build the most prosperous Nation on earth. These traditions honor the rich history of our country and hold us together as one American family, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Pilgrims left their homeland and sailed across an ocean in pursuit of liberty and prosperity. With the friendship and kindness of the Wampanoag people, they learned to harvest the rich bounty of a new world.

Together, they shared a successful crop, celebrating bonds of community during a time of great hardship. Through times of war and of peace, the example of a Native tribe who extended a hand to a new people has endured. During the American Revolution and the Civil War, days of thanksgiving drew Americans together in prayer and in the spirit that guides us to better days, and in each year since, our Nation has paused to show our gratitude for our families, communities, and country.

With God's grace, this holiday season we carry forward the legacy of our forebears. In the company of our loved ones, we give thanks for the people we care about and the joy we share, and we remember those who are less fortunate. At shelters and soup kitchens, Americans give meaning to the simple truth that binds us together: we are our brother's and our sister's keepers. We remember how a determined people set out for a better world -- how through faith and the charity of others, they forged a new life built on freedom and opportunity.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal. It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others. Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation. This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 2014, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mike Nichols: RIP

Mike Nichols died a couple of days ago. I was probably 8-years-old the first time I heard the following. I've been a fan ever since.



Here he is accepting an Emmy Award in the year I was born. He definitely did not deserve this.



Television hasn't changed all that much, has it...

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Another General Election

I arrived at my precinct's polling place just after 3:30 in the afternoon. I was the 66th voter to show up, with one person ahead of me and three or four more showing up while I was in the voting booth. Not a lot of folks usually vote around here, even in a general election.

Four years ago, the last mid-term election, there were a total of 166 votes cast in the entire precinct. Two years ago (a Presidential election year), arriving a wee bit later in the afternoon, I was #200 of 346. It would be interesting to learn how many registered voters there are in this precinct.