Saturday, September 30, 2006
From the ends of the earth, I will cry to you for help, for my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
Psalm 61:1-4 NLT
A request for protection
As the commander of Israel's armies, David was an expert at analyzing an enemy's defenses and planning fortifications. Under David's leadership, the strong fortress of Zion (later called Jerusalem) was captured from the Jebusites. And after he captured it, David oversaw the building of additional fortifications around Zion (2 Samuel 5:6-10). But David didn't place his trust in the fortress he had built. He knew God was his true "towering rock of safety." There was no safer refuge than the Lord's sanctuary—the presence of the Almighty.
Although we might not realize it, we are just as vulnerable as King David was. We need to be led to God's rock of safety. Run to the Almighty in prayer and trust in him to keep you safe.
Prayer for today:
O God, lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge…
Friday, September 29, 2006
Since Fred Hembeck has confessed to being a soap opera fan I feel I should make a confession too. I was once hooked on All My Children and Guiding Light. I nearly got hooked last year on Days of Our Lives when they had a murder mystery plot. Someone was killing off the entire cast. However, it turned out that none of them died. They had just been transported to an island for an evil scheme of some mad man. I lost interest but at times like that I feel a soap like Days of Our Lives should be on the Sci-Fi Network. I was in my 20's and in college when I got hooked on them. How can a young man at that time get hooked on soap operas? After all he had his studies to do. A part-time job to go to. Young ladies to flirt with and his buddies to pal around with. Well for two days a week I didn't have to go to my part time job. I was caught up on my homework and had no classes to attend and all my friends were either at school or at their part time jobs. I had nothing to do but watch TV. Back then there wasn't much choice on daytime TV. It was almost all Soap Operas. So I got hooked for awhile.
Soap Operas have been around for a long time. Since the days of radio. One of the first soap operas was on WGN in Chicago called Painted Dreams. It was about the trials of an Irish-American widow and her daughter. It was only 15 minutes long but got a big audience. Of course success breads success and many successful soap operas jumped onto this new format. World War II helped to popularize soaps as they were broadcast daily and helped housewives escape to another world away from house work and worrying about their sons fighting overseas. The daytime dramas were called soap operas as companies like Procter and Gamble used commercial time to sell their Ivory soap and other cleaning products since housewives were their biggest audience. These days they have a larger demographic with the audience ages starting at 12 and up. P & G still hold the most commercial time but you could see anything being sold from acne medication to hoveround chairs. In the early 60’s P &G’s power was much that when the Dick Van Dyke Show was about to be canceled after it’s first season the producer, Sheldon Leonard, flew to Cincinnati, Ohio to meet with the board of directors of P & G as they were the sponsors of his show. He got them to call the network and told them if the Dick Van Dyke Show was canceled they would pull their ads from the soap operas. If they did that the network would not have time to get new sponsors for all their daytime shows and could not afford to air any of the programs. DVD was saved and given a better time slot and ran for 5 years.
The format of the soap is really the star of the show. With so many characters you can have many storylines to follow. At least one story will get you hooked and you have to see it to the end. However, once that story ends a new one has just started and you want to see how that turns out. Before you know it you have been following the show for years. With the invention of the VCR some of that has now changed. Many people tape an hour long soap and fast forward to their favorite storyline and have watched the show in 10 minutes. Doing it that way maybe you could watch a soap and not care what went on in the rest of the show.
The format of continuing stories and subplots has been adapted in to almost every form of entertainment. From radio dramas to cliffhangers to comic books and novels to today’s popular TV shows like 24 and Prisonbreak. In some ways the format has helped TV shows to reach their full potential. Not too long ago if an actor had a choice to do a TV show or a movie they would take the movie. Money aside, they would say they liked 2 hour movies as it gave more time to develop the characters and the plots. On TV everything was wrapped up easily in a half an hour or an hour. I always felt that some plots should be continued week after week until it reached a logical conclusion. Sometimes the plot felt rushed as it had to end in an hour of broadcast time.
The subplots are another jewel in the format. I can’t tell you how many TV shows I watched or comic books I read where I didn’t care two cents about the lead story but I just new that subplot was going to break free of its restraints one day to become a great lead story. One I remember in particular was in the comic book the Flash. I don’t remember a thing about the lead stories but the subplot dealt with how Barry Allen’s Dad was acting odd. Yes he was recovering from a car accident he was in which killed his wife but he was acting odd even for that. In the end it turned out that it was a plan from a long dead villain the Top. Barry’s Dad died in the accident too and the Top’s spirit entered his body. He planed to find a way to lead that body and take over the Flash’s body. In the end the Flash tricked him. The Top remained dead. Flash stayed in his body and Barry’s Dad got back into his own body. You have to read that series to understand the excitement that I felt at that time. A storyline like that would work well on today’s soap operas. They do time travel, have mad scientist conduct experiments on them, have people taken to an uncharted island to be part of an evil experiment, etc. My wife keeps telling me that she doesn’t like science fiction or comic books. Then she tells me Bo and his wife are battling an evil scientist on Days or one of her other soaps. I tell her “Honey, you would like science fiction and comic books. The only thing missing is the hero does not have superpowers.”
Soap Operas! Love them or hate them, they have quietly changed the world of entertainment.
The above cast photo of All My Children you can get if you click here.
I just found ouit that while September 12th was the 40th Anniversary for the Monkees, it was also the 39th Anniversary for the Saturday morning cartoons based on Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. So Happy Anniversary to both and will someone please release the Fantastic Four cartoon from 1967 on DVD. You did with Spidey so please don't let that be the only one.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Here is one of my favorite books I had, and still do, from when I was growing up. Adam of the Road is by Elizabeth Janet Gray and illustrated by Robert Lawson. It is a Newberry Medal Award winner. It takes place in the early days of England when the sun never set on it's empire. Adam's Mother has passed away and his Father raises him alone. Not an easy task since his Father is a Minstral. Adam is a very well adjusted and level headed boy. The road is home for Adam and his Dad. His adventure starts when Adam and his Father are seperated and someone steals Adam's beloved dog. The book follows him as he tries to cath up to his Father and find his dog.
I remember first hearing about this book when I was in a class at Ryland Heights Elementary. They brought in a TV and showed us a tv show on PBS where a lady read us part of the stroy. When I saw it for sale in the bookstore in Sears in Cincinnati I asked my Mom and Dad to buy it. They did and I have loved it ever since. It was the first hardcover book I owned that was not a text book. If you wish to purchase it on line you can click on Books I Like Store to get the book. If you want your children to learn about the history of England then this book can help.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
This is perhaps the Bible's most comprehensive teaching about the resources believers have to overcome evil. Spiritual forces lurk behind many of our conflicts. Therefore, you should not attack the people manipulated by evil but focus directly on the evil itself. Rely on truth, faith, the power of your testimony, the wisdom of God's word, and the power of prayer. When these are mobilized, evil succumbs, God wins, and you win.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
In 1976 Mike Nesmith had a song called “Rio” that he needed to promote. His distributors in Europe wanted a promotional clip. Back then a clip was only that of the performer standing there singing or lip synching to the song. Papa Nez didn’t want to do that. He wanted something else. He produced a mini-musical that in the 70’s would have blown your mind. Today it would just seem old hat. In the long run he nearly single handedly created the music video business and MTV. His interest in the fast growing video technology became more intense. His company, Pacific Arts, began producing videos for artist like Kim Carnes, Juice Newton, Lionel Ritchie etc. Nesmith said “I can tell you that there’s plenty of evidence to show that the next Beatles are going to be on video record, plain and simple.” He was so convinced that video was the way to go that Pacific Arts stopped producing audio only projects and concentrated on video projects. In 1981 he produced a show for Warner Amex’s cable station Nickelodeon called Popclips. It is that TV show that eventually became MTV.
Continuing his interest in video Nesmith took his previous music videos and combined them with new comedy segments he produced and starred in. This became the first video album called “Elephant Parts.” The title harkens back to an old joke. Three blind men find an elephant. One man touches the leg of the elephant and describes it as a tree. Another touches the tail and says no it is a rope. The third feels the trunk and says no it is a hose. If clearly seen all these parts put together make up an elephant. All of Nesmith’s video clips put together made up the video album Elephant Parts. It also won him the first Grammy for a video album and got him inducted into the Hall of Fame by the American Video Awards. The Monkees former director James Frawley said “I think if you’re a Monkees fan and you look at Elephant Parts you’ll see a lot of throwbacks to what we were doing in the Sixties.” In his own way Nesmith paid homage to his own Monkees past.
Television has always capitalized on other successes and NBC asked for a TV version of Elephant Parts. Brandon Tartikoff of NBC bought “Michael Nesmith in Television Parts” and aired it at 8pm from June 14, 1985 to July of 1985. It wasn’t doing well in the ratings but NBC thought it might do well later at night. You see every once in awhile they would have to air a repeat of Saturday Night Live. They thought instead of airing those repeats they could air new episodes of Television Parts. They aired a longer version of the show one Saturday night. It was the last time the show was on TV. While this variety series didn’t last long it showed how Mike Nesmith’s career had come full circle. He was once again the star of an NBC series where he sang and did comedy. Only this time it was not as part of the Monkees.
In hindsight it is hard to see how music videos were not invented earlier. Since the movies that starred Elvis or the Beatles to the Monkees and cartoons of the Archies, music and video have been dating for along time. The Beatles themselves engaged the two when they started making videos of their songs when they could not personally appear on shows like Ed Sullivan or American Bandstand. Nesmith married the two when he did Elephant Parts. When he proved you could make money with it he created an industry.
Since Television Parts Nesmith has produced movies like Repo Man and Timerider. Pacific Arts is no more but Nesmith being ever the pioneer started a new on line company in the early days of the internet called Video Ranch. He has recently started producing audio again and you can get his audio and video projects at that site.