Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Stage Guy

This year my wife and I couldn't afford to go on a summer vacation trip. We usually go to Las Vegas, and we're usually lucky enough to pay for the trip in winnings, but didn't want to take the chance, this year. Thanks, O.

But one of the free things in Vegas is - the latest in the new technology. Five years ahead of everybody else in display technology. I saw my first LCD advertising kiosk in a casino in vegas. They had those color LED billboards and full-color giant motion screens 'way back in the 1990s. And the first place I saw stack-coupled LCD screens was in front of a "gentlemen's club" on Fremont street. I didn't get the chance to go in to see what other wonders they had within - my wife was with me.

And now you see it everywhere. Entire stage sets made out of stacks and stacks of LCD screens coupled seamlessly together. On some shows, the screens and LED displays have completely replaced all the backdrops and lighting on the stage. "America's Got Talent" and "Dancing with the Geezers" are the best place to see examples of this state-of-the-art technology. Floodlights that tint themselves to any color completely without gels or the excessive heat once associated with theatrical lighting. Probably all pre-programmed and automated and sequenced as well, so all the producer has to do is to call up a program sequence on his computer, and the show will run, practically without the aid of the actors and performers.

But, as I was explaining this to Jill, my co-worker, she raised an interesting question. "What about the guy up in the rafters shaking down the snow flakes? You know, that old guy in the janitor suit with the white moustache? Where's he, now, huh? What are they going to do for the snow scene? "

I suppose once the new wave of technology has completed, and the latest tsunami recedes a bit, there will once again be an appreciation and rediscovery of old-fashioned stage-craft, and the guy will again have something to do.

Friday, October 22, 2010


My favorite inventor is Thomas Edison. He invented the machine that brought us The Beatles, Caruso, Paul Whiteman, Rhapsody in Blue, and so many other countless phonograph moments.

But yesterday was the anniversary of a different invention - the invention of the electric incandescent light bulb. On October 21, 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first long-lasting GE electric light bulb. Coincidentally, it was also the first time a woman was heard to say "TURN OFF THAT LIGHT AND COME TO BED!"

Before Edison's time, every time someone had a brilliant idea, they'd have to watch out for the wax. In colonial times, at a time when the Forefathers were coming up with the Federalist Papers, the Articles of Confederation, The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and endlessly on - a copious cascade of great ideas. And, because there were no light bulbs, each and every time someone had a good idea, a candle would light up over their head. So spoiled are we with our light bulbs, we can't imagine.

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison -- same deal. Every time one of the Founding Fathers came up with a great idea, there would be that candle. (And there was also a time crunch -- they all died in their forties back then, so there wasn't that much time to work with). It had to be hard on the old noggin - the slightest bit of jostling, and a darn candle is going to burn you with melted wax for sure right in the middle of your epiphany.

But, our Founding Fathers were not deterred. They devised hairpieces made of white asbestos, and with these, they could come up with all the ideas they wanted, and not worry about the dripping wax from the candles over their heads. One guy would say, "Hey, let's hold a few truths to be self-evident" -- and that was enough to send them all scrambling for the wigs.

All the Founding Fathers wore this protective headgear, as you can see from the actual photograph above. All, that is, except for Ben. Oh, no, the protective wigs were not for him - he was a daredevil! And we all know what happened to him - The Old Brazilian Pate-Wax!

Life Liberty and the Perfuit of Happineff!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One Lousy Goose

The beginning of a beautiful Fall day. In the chilly early-morning sky Milwaukee's lone Canada goose as honks his way to the pond at Humboldt Park. Most geese are migrating this time of the year. The hauntingly noisy V formation of geese migrating to a warmer place down South heralds the inevitable change in the weather.

But in Milwaukee, the geese found it convenient to live here year-round. They like it here as much as the rest of us do. The migrations were daily, as the geese commuted from Lake Michigan, where they sleep, to the Milwaukee County Parks where they live and play.

Their life-style would be boring for us. They eat. They poop. They go to the park. They eat grass. They poop. And twice a day, they commute. They sleep in the rocks of the Lake Michigan breakwater. And in the daytime they fly over to the park, where there's plenty of grass to eat. There are ponds and lagoons to float in, and just flap their wings with joy at their care-free existence.

Until last June. One idyllic luxurious emerald-green sparkling morning in June. Milwaukee county workers rounded up the geese, killed them, and fed them to the homeless. Here's a link to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel if you don't believe me. Now the homeless are getting fat and lying all over in the parks, smelling and snoring. Who are they going to feed them to?

The paper said the geese were a hazard to the airport. I'd rather have the airport over-run by Canada geese than TSA agents. Perhaps they were honking too much on their cell phones about frequent flyer miles, or delayed flights. And always pecking at the Blackberries.

So, now there is one goose for all 953,328 of us. I don't feel compelled to share him with the suburbs. Honk away, little goose. Have a pleasant, though lonely, day at the park. You beat the bastards, for now.

if you have a blog you'd like linked to my front page, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

it may be Public, but it's NOT Transportation!

***warning to norman - "Cranky Old Man" post***

I was in a hurry to get to work this morning, you know, the Day Job where I work like crazy and then the Government helps itself to half of the money I earned, to be spent on things like road construction and public transportation?

The entry ramp to the freeway was blocked off, supposedly to be repaired. But there was no repair work apparent, not even Government people standing in day-glo vests around a truck talking on their cell phones. So I couldn't get on the freeway. Hope that some day they may get a hankerin' to do a piece of work there...

And I took the side streets 10 miles to work, mainly Lincoln Avenue. And half of that time was spent behind a City Bus. Public Transportation. It lumbered along at about 10 miles per hour - at first I thought I was in a parade. But then it kind of pulled off to the right - not enough that I could get past it. I waited patiently for the wheels of the bus to go round and round again...

A picture of a sneering attorney looked back on me through clouds of black smoke. So conscientious of the carbon footprints of others, the government spends our money freely on studies to desecrate lakeshores and parklands with noisy windmills, yet the government can't keep the buses from exhaling thick clouds of black smoke at each corner, like oversized bloated insolent cigars blown in our face.

I'll tell you all what it's like on the inside of those buses another time, but for now i'll leave you with the oxymoron. Public bus systems are not really public transportation -- that would involve people leaving somewhere and arriving somewhere else. Buses are the OPPOSITE of transportation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Written Excuse

Sorry not to be posting here on Excelsior - I was on a personal mission. It's so rare that I get to work on a video edit until it's done without some home-repair thing breaking down. I'm a constant slave to that evil and cruel deity Yugata, when I'd rather be a willing servant to the fair goddess Yuwana.

I'm rather proud of the following video, promoting an upcoming concert. It was done with a home camcorder and a scaled-down home video editing program called PowerDirector. There are about 100 individual steps to comprise these two minutes, but all that counts is the end product, which, although still a bit clunky, is the best editing i've done to date. Views best in full-screen mode.

It's so much better than the last attempt at promoting this fine group ( ). The quality of the video I had to work with was far superior, because at least I had a tripod to steady things, even though the zoom was not working properly.

However, the improvement is due mostly to suggestions from life-long TV guy, and my best friend since first grade, Norm Lorenz. Check out his blog at Norm will be back after his computer is fixed. Someone clicked on a Global Warming email, and the carbon footprint was enough to overwhelm his virus checker and paralyze his hard drive.

And, since my voice-over wife was too busy to record the tracks this weekend, (don't worry, she'll never find me here on Blogger!) I had to raise Richard Nixon from the dead to do the announcement clips..

Come to the show, November 5th, if you're in Wisconsin!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

benign for the USA

Today's headlines declare that this year's "hurricane season is benign for the USA", that is, not as many hurricanes as the Predictors predicted.

But now, what about those Predictors? These are the people who work for the media, who make a living by churning up our fears, justifiably, or not, and using our fears to sell us Toyotas. The Predictors get all the benefits of a dire hurricane season - before the wind even starts blowing. Viewers grasping and gasping at their every word, and then when viewers are properly hammered into a quivering fear-filled pulp, they peek out meekly from under their sofas, and there on the TV is the Ford Guy swaggering around grinning under his hat-brim and selling us F-150s. What has this to do with hurricanes? It's not hurricanes - it's FEAR, and FEAR SELLS! People are addicted to fear.

And what if the predictions are just . . . plain . . . wrong? What if, every year since Katrina (which they did NOT predict), what if the Predictors predict a hurricane season which is projected to be much, much worse than Katrina? But, what if -- just speculating here -- what if the season does NOT meet the Predictors' quota of mayhem and destruction? What if it's just a peaceful season, with a few major storms, but nothing totally devastating. What, then? Well..... nothing - that's what! The Predictors go on as if they hadn't even said anything about any hurricanes. "What hurricane? What prediction? Who can predict the weather, certainly not me! Are you prepared for the worst Winter in 1,000 years? "

Well, I'm the one standing up in the back, holding them accountable, asking the question. How could your predictions have been soo far off? How is it the East Coast is still there? And how does it apply to their credibility - other things They've predicted? I hope that some day they'll be found out.

Well, gotta cut this short and head for the basement. A guy with a very colorful moving map of our area, filled with swirling blinky-lights and red blotches just spotted some "potentially tornadic cloud cover" in the next county. . . now I wish i'd bought an F-150, I could outrun it....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mi So La - Re Fa Re So So

This is where humor originates. The ability to laugh at one's self, and the ridiculous and pathetic situations one gets one's self into.

Have a happy weekend. Take time to laugh.