Thursday, May 30, 2013

This is Jim Rockford...

I know, I know. I'm neglecting "Dr. Who."

But Netflix Instant has "The Rockford Files." And, uh, yeah. The good doctor can wait a day or two.

Well, what gave me the idea was watching a few episodes of "Harry O," the underrated 1970s TV series starring the underrated David Janssen as private detective Harry Orwell. My new friend Tom told me if I liked "The Fugitive" (which you know I do), that I would love "Harry O." Remembered seeing it as a kid, but only could recall that Janssen's character lived on the beach and had to leave the police force because he took a bullet in the back. I'll write a separate post on the show later.

So, anyway, seeing Harry O on the beach made me think of Jim Rockford. Surfed over to Netflix. Sure enough, there he was.

It's good fodder for late night fun, which is where I found the show in the beginning, late night reruns. Used to love it when Rockford would slam his Pontiac Firebird in reverse, floor it, then do a 180-degree turn while chasing the bad guys. I liked Rockford for some of the same reasons I like Thomas Magnum. He tries to talk his way out of sticky wickets and gets beat up a lot. James Garner was born for this role. I like Rockford even better than Maverick.

The pilot episode co-starred Lindsay Wagner and a different guy playing Jim's dad. Noah Beery Jr. showed up in the second show.

Remember the hilarious messages left on Rockford's answering machine? I hear these became a bit of a bother to the writers, as Norm Peterson's entrance lines would be a decade later on "Cheers." Ah, well. It was worth it.

Stephen J. Cannell produced and co-created "Rockford" with Roy Huggins (who created "The Fugitive"). I liked most of Cannell's shows. Yes, that includes "The Greatest American Hero."

But there's just something about these '70s detective shows. Especially the ones with a sense of humor. As much as I love the original "Hawaii Five-O," Steve McGarrett didn't crack many one-liners. "Book 'em, Danno!" hardly brought the house down.

That's OK. Jim Rockford more than made up for it.

Sue me. I'm stuck in the '70s.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Sorry I haven't ducked in for a few days.

Managed to jump off the grid for the Memorial Day weekend, then hit the road for a brief baseball bonanza. Three games in three days, but that's not the best part.

Last night, we saw a game in the newest affiliated minor league baseball park in the United States. Today, we'll see a game in the oldest affiliated minor league baseball park in the United States. Both are in Birmingham (at least until next month, when a newer park is opening elsewhere).

Regions Field is my kind of ballpark. Brand-spanking new, it's right where a ballpark should be -- downtown. (Yes, I'm still angry at Victor Ashe for letting the Smokies get away to Kodak. But, yes, I love that park, too.)

The Smokies are playing the Barons and hung on to win a good ol' good one last night, 3-2. We ran into longtime Smokies assistant general manager (and Halls guy) Jeff Shoaf before the game.

Today, we're headed to the Rickwood Classic. Same two teams. 12:05 (CDT).

Our friend Kurt Pickering is wrapping up a two-week trip in which he caught several games on the West Coast. He's trying to get to every minor league park in the country. He's made it to 105.

I'm just trying to get a little R&R. We both win.

See you on a bounce.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday evening coming down

Well, I managed not to trip and stumble through my speech to the Halls Business and Professional Association during the lunch hour.

(As you've probably guessed, I was a back-up choice.)

Told 'em about going to New York the first time, being tongue-tied while running into Tom Selleck on the street, and writing about Catfish Dave, John R. McCloud, Bruce Blakely, and several other highlights of my 13-year Shopper News magical mystery tour.

Also offered one of my favorite lines from Charles Kuralt:

"The everyday kindness of the backroads more than makes up for the greed in the headlines."

Listening to "Elvis Himselvis," as GK calls him. Bill Rock's not really bringing A material (this is a repeat of Saturday night's show), but the second hour is to feature music and more from "Elvis on Tour." Part of that -- a brief part -- was filmed in Knoxville, by the way.

What's new with you?

Doesn't the devastation in Oklahoma make you sick? Good news: the death toll isn't as high as first reported. Some children survived. An elderly woman was reunited with her dog. The people seem resilient. That's the American way.

Three more days and I'm on vacation. First one of the year. Can't wait. Baseball. Birmingham.

Well, have a good night. We'll talk soon.

Thanks for dropping by. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Blogging the book: 'Justice is served'


Yes, I have finished Belle Blackburn's "The Doctor's Daughter: Journey to Justice." Yes, justice was served.

No, I didn't quite see it coming, at least not the specific manner in which it did.

Apologies that it took me a little longer than expected, but I have to tell you, this is a good book to read. If you like Tennessee history, the Civil War, home medicinal remedies, or just a good yarn, you'll enjoy it.

Belle is currently holding a giveaway contest on Goodreads. If you adore books, treat them as living organisms, would rather read than breathe, create a Goodreads account. Think Facebook for bibliophiles.

I will not tell you the ending, not even after first giving you a spoiler warning. Nope. If you want to know how justice was served for Kate's father's death, read the book.

My favorite parts of the final pages were the portrait of military-occupied Nashville, a hilarious little scene involving Mrs. Goad and two privates in the U.S. Army, and a bittersweet reunion in a cave.

I will tell you this much: I like how Belle ended the book. Even with an epilogue, things aren't quite nicely wrapped up into a neat little bow. Just like in real life. 

I often judge a work of fiction on whether the characters stay with me, on whether I think about them during the day, on whether I become depressed as each page dwindles. Guilty as charged on all three counts. It's a good thing.


"The Doctor's Daughter: Journey to Justice" is available in electronic and paperback versions from Follow her on Facebook.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Soggy Sunday

Jonathan Schwartz. Joni Mitchell. Seems to fit on a soggy Sunday in spring.

Yep, I'm lazying away the day, listening to "The Sunday Show." The papers are put away for now. Those other Sunday shows have been watched. I just get mad anyway, and that's no good. Not today.

Jon is bringing his A game today. Sinatra. Ella. Armstrong. Bennett.

A few minutes ago he played Sinatra's cover of John Denver's "Like A Sad Song." Oh, how it works.

I had forgotten the recording. I don't spend too much time in the Don Costa era. But I do put the song in the same category with "Cycles." They aren't essentials, but, dang it, one connects to them, maybe more so on a day like today.

I wanna watch the documentaries I've ordered and received. "Vietnam: The 10,000 Day War." "World War II with Walter Cronkite."

But, no. Not right now. It's me and Jon and the music. Heck, he's talking about the Red Sox now.

Radio's power is its intimacy. I feel like Mr. Schwartz is an old friend, same way I felt about Claude the Cat and C.P. and Walker and so forth back in the days when radio hadn't been gobbled up by corporate monoliths. It's one of the reasons I love WDVX.

Speaking of which, last night I hung out with "East Tennessee Quiver" host and my pal Bradley Reeves and friends in North Knoxville. It was billed as Elvis Night, and there was plenty of that, but we also got into "Star Trek" and "The Fugitive" and Carl and Pearl Butler, and 16mm film, and The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous, and how the weather was.

Ross Southerland played acoustic guitar and I sang until my voice went. The old dreams, the good dreams, returned, 17 years reversed in a flash, the song remembered when.

Nancy Lamott is lamenting "The Days of Wine and Roses" while I am sad and sanguine on a soggy Sunday in spring. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What hath God wrought?

...and that quote was about the telegraph.

I am not one who thinks the Internet, social media, smartphones and Twitter are the root of all evil. But one would be ignoring reality to claim the so-called "new media" haven't also brought with them a new set of problems, issues, ethical concerns, and long-term implications.

First of all, our attention spans -- dwindled by decades of television and trivia -- have been reduced to about eight seconds. Ominously, so, too, has the news cycle.

Errors in reporting in the aftermath of a catastrophic event are nothing new. Look up on YouTube the telecasts of  early reporting following JFK's assassination as but one example.

What has changed, though, is how quickly the errors can spread.

Sometimes it's personal. I learned in a span of 30 minutes a couple of Mondays ago that my dear friend and mentor Marvin West had died, came back from the dead, and -- ultimately -- was the "victim" of mistaken identity. Marvin laughed about it. He made me chuckle when I heard his voice, but I had to get the water out of my eyes first.

TV writer/producer/critic/cool cat Ken Levine found out what happens when a blog post goes viral. You could chalk it off to much ado about nothing until you stop to think about what transpired.

Ken was labeled a "hater" for daring to express an opinion about actor Zach Braff's decision to solicit funding for a movie project. He received a dramatic bump in visits to his blog. With them came the comments, which are to be expected, but also bring up a couple of points.

1. Why all this commotion about an actor while real problems remain in every community around the world? In community newspapering, we call it the "five people show up to discuss high-school curriculum but the place will be packed if you cancel prom" syndrome.

2. Debate and discussion have been replaced by cacophony often created by cowards who spew forth venom or worse from the safety of an anonymous online profile.

Agree, disagree, that's great. But turning it into mean, nasty, name-calling nonsense? Nah. Ken put his name on his piece. So should anyone who wants to comment. If you're going to make a fool out of yourself, have the guts (or the gall) to identify yourself.

Maybe things have been this way for a long time. Maybe it only seems like it's worse now because we have more access to it. But that line of defense smells suspiciously like the tail wagging the dog.

I cherish the relatively rare moments in which I have engaged in discussion with others -- about politics, religion, the infield fly rule, all the important things in life -- that didn't devolve into shouting contests in which everyone is trying to have the last word. Sadly, I can count such moments on one hand. OK, maybe one hand and two or three fingers.

People keep telling me that newspapers are dead, along with radio, nightly TV newscasts in the Cronkite sense, common sense, and several other things I adore.

I don't think that's quite true, but if it is, we've got some issues that should have been addressed yesterday.

If you get your news solely from a viewpoint with which you agree, you're simply reenforcing what you already believe. If you watch those Comedy Central late-night shows and think you're getting news, that's even scarier. Those places can be starting points or sources of pure entertainment. There's nothing wrong with that if you recognize it.

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley delivered a thoughtful speech recently while accepting the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from the Quinnipiac University School of Communications.

Pelley admitted mistakes in his and his network's own reporting, which is honest, honorable, awesome.

And he said this: 

"Twitter and Facebook are not journalism, they are gossip. Journalism was invented as an antidote to gossip."

Recently, we've learned that the U.S. Department of Justice obtained the telephone records of Associated Press reporters in the aftermath of an AP story last year about a CIA-thwarted terrorism plot based in Yemen to bomb an airliner. We have also learned that the Internal Revenue Service targeted various groups with names that include words like "Patriot" and "Constitution" while reviewing 501(c)4 applications. Questions linger over the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Meanwhile, folks are up in arms over Zach Braff's film fundraiser and a blogger's opinion about it.

See what I mean?

We've done this to ourselves, y'all, or at least fiddled while Rome burned.

 Oh, by the way, does the name Fred Friendly ring a bell? If not, look him up. He resigned from CBS News because the network chose to air an "I Love Lucy" rerun rather than the first Senate hearings examining the U.S.'s entry into the Vietnam War.

That was in 1966.

Watch Colbert and Stewart if you want. Watch FOX News or MSNBC or MTV or, God help you, the Kardashians.

But, please consider using more than one source (that goes for both media outlets and for consumers), think before you tweet, and be mindful of what used to be the No. 1 rule in Journalism 101. It applies to much in life.

"Trust, but verify."

Monday, May 13, 2013


Bam, it hit me, better than time travel in a DeLorean, a rainy day, a generation ago, teenage angst, David Gates, "Diary."

The song remembers when. That's no lie.

Sorry I didn't pull up a chair much last week. Deadlines and commitments. Migraines and Mondays. But enough about that.

This whole time travel thing started when Danica McKellar, forever known to those of a certain age as Winnie "The Wonder Years" Cooper, tweeted that the series aired its last episode 20 years ago. Twenty years?!

I remember it well. Kevin and Winnie, the ill-fated lovers, take a final dance to "If," the piece of poetry penned by Gates and performed by him and Bread.

"I never knew until that moment how bad it could hurt to lose something you never really had."

I once owned Bread's "Anthology" on cassette and a release whose title I can't remember on 8-track. I still have "Anthology" on vinyl, but was too lazy tonight to find it.

So I surfed to iTunes. Bought "The Best of Bread."

Up popped "Diary" and remembrance of things past. Poignant.

The soundtrack of my life, for the most part, belongs to previous generations. No, that's not quite right. It's still here, waiting for me and for others to find it. It's just that when memories from '93 make their way into my mind, "Whoomp! (There it Is)" doesn't trigger much but disgust.

For most of the '90s, I was adrift in the '70s, and still spend time there.

Anyway, "I found her diary beneath the tree," figuratively anyway, and I do wish for her, his wife, "all the sweet things she can find, all the sweet things they can find."

Wouldn't you know it? She wouldn't show it...

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 06, 2013

This and that

I don't want to go see "The Great Gatsby" anymore.

Hip-hop music? 3-D? Nick Carraway writing the story from a sanitarium?

Thanks, but no. I prefer the pictures that permeated my brain when I read the book anyway. And I'm one of the five people who likes the 1974 version. Except for Mia Farrow's Daisy. Terrible casting. Nobody would go to all that trouble for Mia. Certainly not Redford, er, Gatsby.

 Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are teaming up for "Before Midnight." I can't wait for that one. My friend Bridget turned me on several years ago to the first two films in this series. I like them very much. The characters walk. They talk. No explosions. No comic book heroes. It's quiet and comfortable. I like that. 

Spent much of Saturday listening to the radio. NPR, mostly. I found the 24-hour feed for when I want to avoid the local programming. I like "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!" It almost reminds me of "What's My Line?" Almost.

I like radio. You know that, though. I talk about it too much, I guess. 

Had a headache/stomachache on Sunday. It's OK, except I missed a visit with my friend Mike Finn. I spent the morning with Sid Mark and Mr. Sinatra. I spent the afternoon asleep. It rained.

Jenn got to see Robinella on Thursday night. I was busy working. Didn't get to hear my old friend sing. Such is life. No worries. There will be another time.

Couldn't read much 'cause of the headaches. Wanna get back to my routine.

How was your weekend? I hope it was a good one.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Happy birthday, Bing!

Today would have been Bing Crosby's birthday.

Talk about Mr. Smooth. I love to listen to his radio shows (bring 'em back as quickly as you can, Sirius/XM!). He stars in several films I enjoy, including "Holiday Inn," "High Society" and the "Road" pictures with Bob Hope.

The only real bizarre thing I ever heard him attempt was a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." It wasn't bad; it just wasn't meant for Bing.

Happy birthday, Bing! "Ba boo ba boo ba boo boo boo boo!"

Also, on a personal note, today would have been my late Grandfather Wayne Wyatt's 82nd birthday. He passed away in September.

I am thankful that he is no longer in pain and that he didn't live long enough for Alzheimer's  to ravage his mind to the point he didn't recognize us.

Thinkin' about ya today, Pap.

Labels: , ,