Friday, July 27, 2007

You've got to do it

There are many complaints about children’s television. Some of these complaints are valid, and others are ridiculous. We’re going to look at a recent ridiculous claim made about “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

It seems that a professor was trying to figure out why so many students were coming to him begging to get an “A” when they were only getting Cs. What could be causing this phenomena? Why, Mister Rogers, of course! These guys are saying that Mister Rogers is not doing our kids any favors by telling them that they are special.

The argument goes like this: Mister Rogers has spent so many years telling kids that they’re special that most kids feel like they deserve special treatment and are unwilling to “try harder” and work for the things they want and need. Well, that’s wrong, and that’s not at all what Fred Rogers meant. “You are special” does not mean “the world owes you a living!” If the fools who made this study had watched Mister Rogers a little bit longer, they would have heard Fred sing this song:

You can make-believe it happens, or pretend that something’s true;
You can wish or hope or contemplate a thing you’d like to do;
But until you start to DO IT, you will never see it through.
‘Cause the make-believe pretending just won’t do it for you.

Every little bit- you’ve got to do it, do it, do it, do it!
And when you’re through, you can know who did it,
For you did it, you did it, you did it.

If you want to ride a bicycle, and ride it straight and tall,
You can’t simply sit and look at it, ‘cause it won’t move at all.
But it’s you who have to try it, and it’s you who have to fall (sometimes)
If you want to ride a bicycle, and ride it straight and tall.

Every little bit- you’ve got to do it, do it, do it, do it!
And when you’re through, you can know who did it,
For you did it, you did it, you did it.

It’s not easy to keep trying, but it’s one good way to grow
It’s not easy to keep learning, but I know that this is so-
When you’ve tried and learned, you’re bigger than you were a day ago.
It’s not easy to keep trying, but it’s one way to grow.

Every little bit- you’ve got to do it, do it, do it, do it!
And when you’re through, you can know who did it,
For you did it, you did it, you did it!

Okay folks. Does that sound like Mister Rogers is telling our kids that they don’t have to try? That they should just sit on their butts feeling special and watch his show? HELL, NO! Just watch his show. Almost every episode shows people working in some way! Fred knew the value of hard work. (Think of all the years he spent behind the scenes in TV before the “neighborhood” came along)

You see, being “special” has nothing to do with what the “world” says. We’re talking about who you are personally. If someone rejects me, it doesn’t mean I’m not special. By the same token, if I reject someone else, or if I refuse to live up to their standards somehow, it doesn’t mean that they’re not special in their own way.

Let’s suppose you work hard to get into a job. And every day, you work hard at your job. Then, one day, the company goes bankrupt. Are you no longer a hard worker? Of course not! You’re still the hard worker you always were. Now, you just have to work hard for someone else. The stuff that makes you “special” is not dependant on the world. That means that if you want to be treated “special”, you’d better not expect it to come to you on a silver platter. Because my uniqueness is my own. It doesn’t belong to you. Some people will see and appreciate that uniqueness, but many won’t. And that’s life.

Hey, this is what we’ve been talking about all year, isn’t it? In March, we talked about the fact that you’re special whether you have a family or not. Later, we talked about the fact that Underdog is special, even though he’s only an “Underdog.” Later, we drove the point home even more by pointing out that you don’t need a damsel in distress to be a true hero. The stuff that makes you “special” is not something physical. Remember what Yoda said? “Luminous beings are we!”

The idiots behind this idea seem to forget many things. Mister Rogers has been on the air for almost 40 years. Why “just now” are people beginning to believe that he was damaging our kids? If he were really damaging our kids, wouldn’t we have figured it out by now? And why is it that the folks who didn’t watch Mister Rogers sometimes think the world owes them a living? Hmm? Could it be that this is a human problem, not just a Mister Rogers problem? Selfishness and greed were around long before Fred Rogers.

Don’t blame Mister Rogers for the selfish kid who thinks he deserves an “A” no matter what he does. Blame that on simple stupidity. Blame that on a different kind of selfishness. A selfishness that does not understand that the school is special, too.


Read what Family Communications has to say about all this:

The Fred Rogers/ Courteney Cox connection. Bet you never thought those two would have anything in common, did you? But they do. Read about it here:

And catch a clip from a very, very early episode of Mister Rogers in the favorites folder of my YouTube page. (It's in the links section. It’s in black and white! Fred’s hair isn’t gray yet!)


Recently the creator of the “Old fashioned Christian Radio” web page came up with an interesting idea to solve the possible crisis over paying music royalty fees. Just don’t play the music anymore!

No, he didn’t quit the Web site. He’s just not playing the artists that are represented by the “big wigs” in the music royalty world. This is possible since many of the Christian artists he plays are not signed to big recording companies. Anyone who collects Christian music knows that some artists are quite literally “Mom and Pop” operations! The garage (or the church basement) doubles as a recording studio. When these artists tour (if they tour at all), it’s not a huge move, or a huge production. Think “The Partridge Family” and you begin to get the idea.

That doesn’t mean the recording quality of religious albums is poor. It’s usually quite good. But because there is no huge marketing plan going on, and because (in most cases) the songs aren’t being played on the radio, and because these albums can be incredibly difficult to find, these artists remain relative unknowns. And that’s just fine. Really! The point of any Christian artist should not be to become rich and famous. If it happens, fine, but that’s not the goal. The goal should be to glorify Jesus. You can’t measure that kind of glory by album sales. In a sense, these Christian artists are closer to true artists than anyone who is in it just to make a living. For they are probably in it for the love.

Having said that, here’s the comment Michael posted on his site:

In light of the recent Copyright Royalty issues...
As of June 1, 2007, Old Christian Radio (OCR) has LIMITED its airplay ONLY to artists, musicians, labels who have granted airplay permission to OCR to play their music. Doing this is the only way around this mess.

I don't see the sense in paying those wicked heathens at Sound Exchange (another extension of RIAA or "big record") a pile to money for the right to broadcast "major label" music which makes up only 10% of OCR's play schedule anyway. [Major Label as in: 16 Singing Men, Don Marsh, Melody Four, Hale and Wilder, Tom Fettke, London Philharmonic Choir And Orchestra, Brentwood Music, and etc.]

It was a lot better for me to quit "air playing" the 10%, cancel my Sound Exchange License, and license directly with the "small guys" who are doing (it) for the Lord instead of the money.

OCR's music store will continue to sell the aforementioned items in its online music store, even though they will NOT be played on the air anymore.

However, Old Christian Radio will continue to pay the "songwriter fees" that are owed to BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC through Live365.

Mr. Michael M McFadden

While I certainly admire Michael for making the best of a bad situation, I'm not sure about calling the Sound Exchange folks “wicked heathens.” Isn’t it theoretically possible that they’re only wicked? :) I’m all for supporting the “small” Christian artists, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that all the “big” ones work for wicked heathens.

Enjoy the beautiful music at Old Fashioned Christian Radio. It’s in the links section to the right.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Comic Con and other neato things

CON GAME: I’ve been lucky enough to attend the San Diego Comic Con three times. But my first visit was certainly memorable. It was 1985. The Comic Con has obviously always been “commercial”, but back in those days, it was not nearly as huge a “media event” as it is today. It focused on - believe it or not - comic books! The only celebrity that I met that day was Robert Shayne, who played Inspector Henderson on the “Adventures of Superman” show. "Can I give you some fatherly advice, young man?" he asked. "Stay away from drugs." My father, standing nearby, agreed. And I do too - that was very good advice.

Comic Con is coming back this month, and the list of special events is impressive. Read all about it here:


FRIEND OR FOE? His name is Alan. He's the guy who runs Hooper's Store on “Sesame Street.” He seems like a nice guy. Yet his coming on the show signifies the “point of no return” for me. Alan first appeared on the first episode to feature “Elmo's World.” After Elmo's World, I couldn't help the show anymore. It had gone to the dark side completely. It's like the moment when Anakin became Vader. My Sesame watching had already been dying for years, but Elmo's World was like the final nail in the coffin. Sesame Street turned into the same kind of corny kids' show that it had once tried to rise above. Could it be more than a mere coincidence that Alan first appeared on that very same show?

Can we truly blame Alan? He simply wanted to work on Sesame Street. Yet his coming brought about the end of the world (well, for classic Sesame fans, anyway.) Forget Barney or Elmo - Is Alan a sign of the apocalypse?

Seriously, Alan is played by actor Alan Muraoka, and there's an interesting interview with him on the “Muppet Newsflash” web page. Enjoy it below:


THE WAY IT WAS: Todd does it again! If you remember the way Disneyland looked in the 1960s, and wish you could see it that way again, take a look at his collection of Disneyland images from that era. He found them in a collection of slides. The moral of the story: If you ever give away your slides, don’t give away anything too embarrassing! But there’s nothing embarrassing about these classic images (with the possible exception of the tour guide‘s uniform, but she couldn’t help that!). Enjoy the images in these three blog postings from Neato Coolville:


DREAMGIRLS: Gina, Maria and Gabby to parody the Supremes. True “dreamgirls” unite to sing. Wearing opera gloves & everything... oh yeah... I can't wait to see that. . . It's coming (supposedly) later this year in Sesame Street's new season. It's also a throwback to the days when Sesame cast members would perform as “music groups” on the show. You can watch one of these classic moments in my favorites folder on my YouTube web page. Just click on “Gimmie Five” and enjoy a very cool blast from the 1970s past. The first link will take you to the press release about the next Sesame Street season. The link on the bottom will take you to my YouTube page:

ON YOUTUBE: CLIPS FROM SESAME STREET TEST SHOW: Before the first episode, there was the “bomb.” The bomb that almost destroyed Sesame Street! There was a preview episode of Sesame Street that was presented to selected families before the show officially went on the air. The preview show didn’t do very well! One of the reasons, according to Joan Ganz Cooney, was the separation of the “muppet world” from the “real world” on the street. This separation was eliminated, and the show we all know and love began in earnest. Hey, speaking of “Ernest,” check out the “D” film clip. It includes the “prototype” Ernie and his “prototype” voice! This guy reminds me of the Orange Oscar and the Green Grover! Plus, you’ve got to love the classic Sesame dialogue. “Do we have any choice?” “No.” And on the other clip, enjoy Bob McGrath singing the complete theme to the show with some slightly different lyrics (“every door is open wide.”) Also, note one of the kids walking past in the first shot on “Sesame Street” at the end of the clip. What is that he’s carrying? A fishing pole? A makeshift baseball bat? Hmmmm.
Enjoy both of these clips in my favorites folder on our YouTube page:

These clips come courtesy Boobergorg and ISNorden. You can enjoy more classic Sesame Street clips at ISNorden’s blog site:

You can read a detailed description of the test show at the site below. It features scenes from the ultra-rare “Man from Alphabet” skit.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Indy and me

If you live in New Haven, Connecticut, then you might have seen this guy hanging around some of the restaurants at lunchtime. After several years of waiting, the “stars” are in alignment: Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are filming the next Indiana Jones movie, set for release next year. There’s not a whole lot of information available yet, but the best place for data comes from the official site, which is also where this photo (taken by Steven Spielberg) comes from:

Even though we have almost a year to go before the movie comes out, this might be a good time to look back on Indiana Jones and the highlights (and lowlights) of his adventures - from the point of view of a fan who lived through the first Indy trilogy.

EVER GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL? When I first heard of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, I thought they were talking about Noah’s ark. That’s the only “lost ark” I knew of at the time. It’s kind of sad that I first began to really learn about the ark of the covenant from a movie instead of from church. (The ark is briefly mentioned in “The Ten Commandments” as well, and makes a “cameo” as a cave painting in “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade.” )

TOO SCARY, PART ONE: Like “Star Wars” before it, “Raiders” was deemed too scary for kids by many of the grown-ups I knew. Indeed, it did look frightening from the images in the Marvel comic book of the story. As my family watched the movie, my Dad told us that whenever he would watch a scary movie as a boy, he used to duck his head behind the two seats in front of him to “peek” at whatever was on the screen. We followed suit when we watched “Raiders.” Admittedly, the film is very scary for very young kids, and for anybody who doesn‘t like snakes.

GOSH, SHE’S CUTE: Marion Ravenwood, played by Karen Allen. Sigh! One of the many brief crushes from my youth who still can set my heart aflutter. I sometimes still like to imagine myself rushing into the tent and finding Marion tied up. . .maybe I’d better stop right here. I like all the Indy girls, but Marion is my favorite. She’s rumored to be in the next film. I hope so!

MISSING SCENES, PART ONE: Speaking of Marion tied up, there was apparently a brief extra scene planned with Marion tied just before she was thrown into the Well of Souls. The scene appears in the Marvel comics version, but it’s not in the movie & I’ve never seen it in any “bonus clips” from Raiders. Anybody know anything else about this missing scene?

REALLY BRIEF REVIEW: RAIDERS: The first Indiana Jones movie is still the best. It’s incredibly entertaining and quite memorable. See “Raiders,” if nothing else.

THE POSTER: Somehow, my brother was able to get an “Indiana Jones” poster from a school book fair. The poster hung in our room for quite a while (nope, don’t have it anymore, sorry!) What makes this interesting is that this was before “Temple of Doom,” so the name of “Indiana Jones” was beginning to be presented on its own, separate from “Raiders.”

THE OSCARS: Raiders won several Oscars, but not Best Picture. That one went to “Chariots of Fire.” When it won, my Dad and brother said in unison, “Chariots of Fire?!”

MY HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND: A friend in High School once casually said to me something like “Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best movie ever made.” This was in 1984, and it is a testament to how much this movie effected the youth of that time. I’m not sure if my friend still feels this way, but the quote is something I will remember.

MOVIE OF THE YEAR: “Temple of Doom” came out in 1984. As far as my family’s movie going habits were concerned, it was meant to carry on a tradition that started with “Empire Strikes Back.” We were not a family that went to the movies very often. We usually would only go once or twice a year, and so each year we would plan to see the “one” big movie of that year. In 1980, it was “Empire,” “Raiders” and “Superman II” in 81, “E.T.” in 82, “Jedi” in 83. “Temple of Doom” was the obvious choice for the 84 movie.

LOUDER, PLEASE: My family first saw “Temple of Doom” in a drive-in theater! It was fun, but at the beginning of the movie, the sound wasn’t playing on the speakers. Car horns began to honk all over the place for the first few minutes of the film! We missed most of “Anything goes.”

TOO SCARY, PART TWO: This film was so scary that they created a new rating for it. The PG-13 rating came to light due in part to this movie (and “Gremlins”, which came out a bit later). Just as “Empire” had a darker tone than the original “Star Wars,” “Temple of Doom” was darker in tone than “Raiders.” And that is its flaw. Although there are certainly light-hearted moments in the film, they are too little, too late. It’s hard to chuckle at cute jokes after you’ve seen graphic scenes of torture and sacrifice. It’s hard to watch “Temple of Doom” and feel good afterward. So Temple of Doom was, I’m sorry to say, a bit of a disappointment for me. Thankfully, another film came out that year that also satisfied the fantasy-lovers for a time: “Ghostbusters.”

MISSING SCENES, PART TWO: A scene was planned with Kate Capshaw and a very large snake. According to the Marvel Comics version, the large snake was to attack Kate as she was bathing in the river, and wrap around her - gasp - nude body. Indy, notoriously afraid of snakes, finds himself unable to rescue her. The snake apparently decides it would rather go to sleep, and falls off of Kate. Nothing nasty is shown. At least, I THINK nothing nasty was meant to be shown. The scene was never filmed - Kate was very frightened by the snake (no computer effects yet, they were going to use a real one!) and Spielberg decided not to torture her, and the scene was cut. (Hey, they got married, too!) But I’m curious - does anybody have a draft of the script for this missing scene? Did it go exactly as presented in the comics version, or was it totally different?

THE HAT: Yep. I had an Indy hat. I had the jacket, too. (No whip. That came later.)

So let’s see, the films for 1984 would be “Temple of Doom” and “Ghostbusters.” Then Back to the Future” and “Return to Oz” in 1985, “Top Gun” in 1986, and then my memory fails me. I do remember seeing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (re-release) in late 1987. Obviously, things had changed by this time. Home video recording & watching movies at home had become a way of life for us. But I DO know what we wanted to see in 1989!

LAST CRUSADE: “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” made up for any mistakes made in “Temple of Doom.” The movie is not perfect, but it is Indiana Jones the way we like to see him. He’s fighting the bad guys without turning into one. The movie is humorous - some might even say corny in parts. But it’s certainly no more corny than any of the other unbelievable adventures Indy has had. It’s a movie with a message. Both Indy and his father begin to realize that there’s more to life than hunting for buried treasure. A worthy conclusion to the series. . .for now! (Other family favorites for 89 included “Field of Dreams” and “Dead Poets Society.” 1990 had the re-release of "Fantasia")

TOO SCARY, PART THREE? For all the complaints about scariness from the first two movies, we heard really nothing like that for “Last Crusade.” That’s kind of surprising, since the movie obviously has a few scary scenes in it. But obviously things had changed since 1981. We were growing up, and such scary scenes were not nearly as “scary” as they would be for younger kids. We didn’t peek behind the seats to watch this movie. It was actually much more fun that frightening for us. It was great to see actors from the original “Raiders.”

THE FAN FILM: I love this story. A young fan of the original “Raiders” movie got his friends together and made a scene-by-scene remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The movie was so well-received that it got its own theatrical showing in the fan’s hometown, and Steven Spielberg wrote a letter to the fan sharing his admiration of the movie! During a TV interview, the fan showed clips from his film. When it came to the scene where Indy and Marion kiss, the fan turned around and said something like. “That’s my first kiss. I have my first kiss on videotape.” I would love to actually see this whole movie. Does anybody have a copy? I will trade for it!

THE TV SERIES: Hey, did you know that Indiana Jones had a TV series? And it was actually a pretty good show. But it wasn’t like the movies, and that created kind of an issue. The fans who enjoyed the fast pace of the movies may have been disappointed at the (often) more thoughtful pace of “Young Indiana Jones.” Like many shows, it was very well done, but kind of under-appreciated.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: It’s too early to pass judgment on a film that hasn’t been made yet! But if they can keep it fun, it should be worth the wait. I’m guessing that we’ll get to see Indy and his son going through some of the same trials that Indy went through with his dad. I plan to be in line in 08 waiting for this movie. Until then, I share the mantra, “please bring Marion back, please bring Marion back. . .”

EPILOGUE: BELT FACTORY INCIDENT: One evening, a friend and I were making fun of the “Oscar Mayer” theme song by making up new words to the lyrics. We were quite young at the time, so there was nothing nasty. It was just good corny kid fun. I only remember one of the songs that I made up. It goes (sort of) to the tune of “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R,” etc. It made my friend laugh, so I made note of it, and I still enjoy this little ditty to this day. Here it goes:

Once I went to the belt factory
To look at all the belts
And then somebody came along
And hit me with one of the belts!

Well it really hurt, hurt down to my toes,
It really hurt, it went up my nose.
I said, “Who’s the man who broke my bones?”
And it was Indiana Jones!

Well, you kind of had to be there, I guess. . .