Saturday, August 04, 2012

A few things I've missed

Hi gang.

Sorry to have been absent for awhile. Of all things, I tested positive for strep throat. Couldn't believe it. The nurse should have given me a Snoopy sticker and a sucker on the way out the door. Ugh.

I missed a hero's birthday yesterday. Legendary Scripps-Howard columnist Ernie Pyle was born on Aug. 3, 1900. You may know he was killed by machine gun fire on April 18, 1945, just north of Okinawa, while covering the war for the newspaper chain.

Ernie was my kind of guy. He liked to be in the trenches with the grunts. He wrote about them instead of the generals. He helped get a bill through Congress securing combat pay for the troops. His war dispatches won him a Pulitzer.

It is a great honor to be able to say that I work for the same organization that once employed Ernie Pyle. Jenn and I visited his grave at the Punchbowl in Honolulu on our honeymoon. One of my most treasured possessions is a collection of dispatches Pyle filed from Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains during September 1940. My friend Rheta gave them to me as a wedding present. Such a thoughtful gift.

I hesitate to say anything about what transpired Aug. 1 at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country. I joked that what disturbed me most about the controversy was the amount of times I saw the restaurant's name misspelled on Facebook and Twitter feeds. And that's enough of that. You have your opinion about it, no doubt. I will keep mine to myself.

I used my sick leave to get caught up on several shows that have been resting quietly on my DVR's hard drive for many moons now.

Oh, how I love "Downton Abbey." That final scene from Series 2, in the snow with Matthew and Mary, delighted me to no end. "Downton" is this generation's "Upstairs Downstairs." Speaking of which, I noticed the original "Up Down" is available on Netflix streaming. Methinks I will watch it -- and savor it -- again. That series has aged as well as a fine wine from a very good year.

I continue to enjoy my guilty pleasure for the summer, TNT's new version of "Dallas." Maybe, just maybe, somebody is paying attention and will give Larry Hagman the Emmy he should have received 30 years ago.

I didn't make it to Nashville to see Barry Manilow. I didn't make it to Memphis to pay my respects to King Elvis the Presley. It's OK. Health comes first. I've seen Manilow many times and Graceland isn't going anywhere.

I have managed to make a dent in my book queue. Douglas Brinkley's biography of Walter Cronkite is a must-read for news junkies and TV and pop culture historians, or for anyone who loves a well-written biography.

In one sitting, I more or less enjoyed Mitch Albom's "For One More Day," soap bubbles that warmed the soul. Now, I'm tackling a more meaty tome on the U.S.'s so-called "twilight war" with Iran, written by David Crist, a veteran of both Gulf Wars. Heard him talking on NPR a week or so ago. The book begins with the 1979 revolution and continues to the present day.

Gore Vidal died this week. Whether one agreed with him or not, Vidal harkened back to an era when, as he once put it in a PBS interview, "everyone seemed to read and authors were celebrities."

Proof of such can be found in kinescopes of the game show "What's My Line?", on which a guest panelist might be Herman Wouk and a regular and beloved panelist was Bennett Cerf, co-founder of Random House.

Vidal often referred to his native land as "The United States of Amnesia," meaning that Americans by and large tend to forget or, even worse, never bother to learn our nation's rich history. Methinks he may have been correct on that final point, a fact that has already created needless tragedy and may ultimately prove fatal.

I guess that's it for now. I'm feeling some better, but still don't seem to have much energy. Have a good weekend. I'll see you soon.

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