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Cleaning off the desktop III: A helicopter, the Tamiami, and Girls With Guns
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Published Sunday, May 11, 2014 @ 8:26 AM EDT
May 11 2014

We were living in Philadelphia in the summer of 1985, and the television was on as background noise. A "Miami Vice" rerun was airing. I'd caught a few minutes of the series earlier in the year and, frankly, it wasn't on my must-see list. Anyway, I was working on something when I heard a car engine gunned, followed by a hard cut to Tommy Shaw's driving "Girls With Guns."

I looked up to see a tracking shot of speeding convertible. After a few seconds, it became obvious the tracking vehicle was a helicopter, perfectly matching the speed of the auto. I slowly became aware that there weren't any edits... this was one long honking aerial shot.

It runs for a total of 79 seconds, an eternity in a filmed television series. I couldn't find many details. The episode, "Glades," was the ninth in the series' first season. It originally aired on November 30, 1984; I apparently caught the rerun on June 21, 1985. The show was directed Stan Lathan (who would later go on to direct 122 episodes of "The Steve Harvey Show"), and the director of photography was Duke Callahan, who was also the D.P. on the motion picture Conan The Barbarian. The helicopter pilot and cameraman were uncredited.

The segment starts on the west side of Miami and continues along the Tamiami Highway. My guess is the director told the stars to drive themselves to the location that day, and he told the DP to grab a camera, get a helicopter, and get him some filler because the episode timed out short.

Or, it could have been a deliberate attempt to create a shot so impressive an old fart like me would remember it nearly 30 years later when he accidentally encountered it on the web.

Here's the link to the full song.


Categories: Classic, Cleaning off the desktop, Music, TV, Video, YouTube


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Where were you in '62?
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Published Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 12:19 AM EDT
Jun 15 2012

George Lucas' classic American Graffiti opened in New York City on June 15, 1973. Trivia: the high school teacher/dance chaperone was played by former KDKA Radio personality Terry McGovern, whom George Lucas credits with inventing the word "Wookiee."


Categories: Classic, George Lucas, Movies, Star Wars, Trivia of the day, YouTube


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The Copper Clapper Caper
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Published Monday, April 02, 2012 @ 1:18 AM EDT
Apr 02 2012

In honor of the birthday of the late Jack Webb, here's his legendary dead-on Dragnet parody with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

(YouTube vide: The Copper Clapper Caper))


Categories: Classic, Johnny Carson, Video, YouTube


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Remembering "Moms"
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Published Monday, May 23, 2011 @ 9:18 AM EDT
May 23 2011

From CMT:

Jackie "Moms" Mabley
(born Loretta Mary Aiken)
March 19, 1894 - May 23, 1975

At one time the most successful woman standup comic in America- she remains the highest-charting comedienne in Billboard history- social satirist Jackie "Moms" Mabley is largely unknown to contemporary audiences, but her impact on successive generations of both female and African-American comics remains estimable.

Born Loretta Mary Aiken in Brevard, NC on March 19, 1894, her early life was marred by tragedy- one of a dozen children, when she was 11 her father, a volunteer fire fighter, was killed when his fire truck overturned and exploded, and her mother was later fatally struck by a mail truck. Before the age of 13, Aiken was also raped twice- once by an older black man, then by Brevard's white sheriff. Both violations resulted in pregnancy, and she ultimately left her children in her grandmother's care and relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, living with a minister's family. There she began singing and dancing in local shows, befriending local entertainers including Jack Mabley, who became her boyfriend. Their relationship proved ill-fated, and when Aiken's brother expressed embarrassment over his sister's stage career, she adopted Mabley's name for her own: "He took a lot off me," she told Ebony in 1974, "so the least I could do was take his name."

The newly christened Jackie Mabley- the sobriquet "Moms" was later bestowed as a nod to her maternal understanding and compassion for younger performers- was soon touring vaudeville on the so-called "chitlin' circuit" of African-American venues. The cancerous racism she encountered on the road would later inform her standup comedy. In 1921 she began touring with the husband-and-wife team Butterbeans & Susie, soon making her debut at Harlem's legendary Cotton Club. Mabley was also a fixture of New York City's emerging black theater, and in 1931 collaborated with writer Zora Neale Hurston on the Broadway production Fast and Furious: A Colored Revue in 37 Scenes. Two years later, she made her film debut in Emperor Jones. But it was Mabley's forays into comedy that proved most enduring. Appearing on-stage in house dresses and oversized hats (a wardrobe inspired by her own grandmother), her matronly image belied her saucy routines, which were laden with sexual innuendo as well as cutting observations on the state of race relations in the U.S. As several observers pointed out, her no-frills, little-old-lady appearance not only endeared Mabley to fans, but made it that much easier for audiences of all races to swallow her more biting material. Even few male comedians of the time were as pointedly topical or as salacious, and most of them were white on top of it.

From 1939 into the '60s, Moms Mabley was a fixture at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater, appearing on its stage more than any other performer. In 1947, she co-starred in the film Killer Diller, followed a year later by Boarding House Blues. But her national fame didn't truly ascend until she began cutting comedy LPs on the Chess label. Her 1960 debut On Stage (Funniest Woman in the World)Moms Mabley at the "UN" cracked the Billboard Top 20. Subsequent chart entries include Moms Mabley at the Playboy Club; Young Men, Si- Old Men, No; Moms Mabley at the White House; and Moms Mabley Breaks It Up. She made her television debut in 1967 on A Time for Laughter, and was later a regular guest on the television variety shows of Harry Belafonte, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin. In 1969, Mabley unexpectedly cracked the pop and R&B charts with a straight-faced, even maudlin rendition of the Dion hit Abraham, Martin and John, becoming the only woman over the age of 70 to have a Billboard Top 40 hit.

After starring in the 1974 film Amazing Grace- her first big-screen appearance in over a quarter century- Mabley died May 23, 1975 at the age of 78. In the years following her death, she has been the subject of a number of off-Broadway productions, including the Clarice Taylor-headlined Moms and 1999's Moms Mabley: The Naked Truth.
-Jason Ankeny, Rovi


Categories: Classic, Video, YouTube


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The nuclear debate
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Published Sunday, March 27, 2011 @ 5:19 PM EDT
Mar 27 2011

This 1979 clip from NBC's Saturday Night Light shows that some things never change...

The format is a parody of the Point/Counterpoint segment of CBS' 60 Minutes, in which Shana Alexander and James Kirkpatrick would engage in a short, well-mannered debate on topical subjects. It became a recurring feature on SNL's Weekend Update until founding cast members Akroyd and Curtin left the show. The phrase "Jane, you ignorant slut" became a part of the national zeitgeist.


Categories: Classic, SNL, Snrk, Video, YouTube


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Groovy
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Published Saturday, January 29, 2011 @ 7:42 AM EST
Jan 29 2011


Categories: Classic, DeForest Kelley, Leonard Nimoy, Music, Star Trek, Video, William Shatner, YouTube


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Mr. Magoo's Chistmas Carol
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Published Sunday, December 19, 2010 @ 5:14 AM EST
Dec 19 2010

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, a musical adaptation of the Dickens story, was the first animated holiday special produced specifically for American network television. Commissioned and sponsored by Timex, it aired on NBC on December 18, 1962; two years before Rankin-Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and three years prior to the generally acknowledged masterpiece of the genre, the Emmy and Peabody award-winning A Charlie Brown Christmas.

While Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Frosty the Snowman (1969), and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) have aired annually since their debuts, Magoo exited network television in the 1980s, popped up in syndication for the next decade or so, then shuffled off to home video and the Internet.

While Magoo features the relatively cheap limited animation most television cartoons employ, it had something the others didn't- a score written by Broadway heavy hitters Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, whose next effort would be the hit show Funny Girl.

A remastered Blue-Ray DVD of the show was released this year, and the soundtrack and show itself are available on Amazon and iTunes (should the YouTube link above become unavailable).

For a lot of mid-50s boomers, Magoo was our introduction to Dickens' classic story. And, as the first real Christmas special, it left a major impression.

It's good to see it available again.


Categories: Classic, Mr. Magoo's Chistmas Carol, Music, Video


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Remembering The Big Guy
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Published Wednesday, September 22, 2010 @ 8:47 AM EDT
Sep 22 2010

Gordon Jump (April 1, 1932 – September 22, 2003), best remembered as station manager Arthur Carlson ("The Big Guy") in the classic sitcom WKRP in Cincinnatti:

"As God is my witness... I thought turkeys could fly."


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Let Freedom Ring
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Published Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 9:48 AM EDT
Aug 28 2010

August 28, 1963

"I am happy to join with you today, in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

"But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

"It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

"But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

"And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

"I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

"Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

"I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

"I have a dream today.

"I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

"I have a dream today.

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

"This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

"And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

"Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

"Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

"But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

"Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

"Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


Categories: Classic, Daily Show, History, Hypocrisy, Jon Stewart, Martin Luther King, Jr., Video, WTF?


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Perfect sense on a Monday morning
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Published Monday, July 12, 2010 @ 8:30 AM EDT
Jul 12 2010


Categories: Classic, Music, Video


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Good girl...
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Published Friday, June 25, 2010 @ 12:25 AM EDT
Jun 25 2010

Lord knows what great-great-great-great-grandcollie's in the picture, but that's Lassie's mom, June Lockhart, who turns 85 today. We'll do the math: that's slightly over 12 in dog years.

The photo was taken last August at a ceremony for the issuance of "Early TV Memories" commemorative postage stamps. Only Lassie appears on the stamp. The bitch.

(It appears the current "Lassie" is a tenth-generation direct descendent from "Pal," who starred in the MGM films and the pilot of the TV series. Interesting article on Wikipedia.)

The official Lassie website notes that Lassie "doesn't meet the AKC standard for the breed. Lassie is bred larger than average so that a child actor can play opposite the dog for a longer time."

Another piece of trivia: "Lassie is a registered trademark, and that trademark requires the following: a sable and white collie, four white feet, a full white collar and a white blaze up the nose."


Categories: Classic, Dogs


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Number one with a bullet-
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Published Monday, May 10, 2010 @ 12:28 AM EDT
May 10 2010

Bill Haley & His Comets release Rock Around The Clock on this date in 1954, which becomes the first rock & roll record to reach number one on the Billboard chart.

Note the accordion; this was primitive rock, indeed.


Categories: Classic, Music, Video


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Classics: Zontar (SCTV)
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Published Saturday, April 10, 2010 @ 12:01 AM EDT
Apr 10 2010

With Dave Thomas as DeForest Kelley as Julia Child's husband.


Categories: Classic, SCTV


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29 years ago today...
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Published Thursday, March 18, 2010 @ 3:32 PM EDT
Mar 18 2010

The Greatest American Hero pilot aired on ABC.


Categories: Classic, Greatest American Hero, Video


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