A day OFF!

Jan. 2nd, 2009 10:20 am
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
I really appreciate a job where, if you go beyond the norm it is recognized and rewarded. Since our team worked the day after thanksgiving, we got two Fridays off. Today is the second one. The timing is great because I'm still a bit twingy from an allergic reaction to who knows what yesterday, causing some nice spots around the eyes where I look a bit uh...scary. The good news is that the benedryl seems to have helped, as did a bit of sleep. Yay.

On this lovely day off, I started looking through last year's archives of all the things that happened, the places I've been physically and mentally, and this strange tangle of the thing called life. It caused many nostalgic feelings and thoughts about where we've all been. From the ancient times of "finger" and "talk" on the ancient Unix boxen until now, with this great diary tool with multiple useful and wonderful filters where I can easily look back and quickly see various aspects of my life. I think that's really kinda cool. But then, I'm always rather surprised by the innovative uses people come up with for this Internet thing.

So today I will try to do some more cleaning, and perhaps have a nice Doctor Who Xmas Special showing tonight. We shall see if I'm feeling up to it.
recalcitranttoy: (Sleep?)
I am VERY thrilled to have been invited to shoot [livejournal.com profile] wondermojz stills and video while she did some vocal tracks for her upcoming CD whose title track is quite the amazing piece of work. Yeah, I'm sure most people are bloody tired of hearing me blather on and on about Mo and "what a voice" and "Mo rocks" and all the rest of that stuff, but really, it's all true. And I'm saying this as a former "expert" who broke Boston in the UK (BBC One jocks were in my disco when I played some of it and they freaked out and it was on their playlists the next week), and "Heart of Glass" in the US (my program director of the time took credit, but WTF. Our station got the gold record from Debbie Harry). And yeah, it's been a long time since I've been in the music business at all, but that doesn't mean I don't know good when I hear it.

I'm sure that both Mo and the lovely engineer whose name I stupidly forgot were both sick of me with eyes big as saucers, staring at all this fabulous equipment with flashing buttons and dials and colored knobs and woo woo geek stuff, and telling them how bloody old I am by blathering on about the last time I was in a real recording studio (1977) and OMG it's DIGITAL and gawking at the Mac he used to power Pro Tools and all those audio tracks and on this sounds SO GOOD and the voice in my head saying "shut up and shoot the damn video already."

Yeah, ok, I guess I had permission to be 17 with a sound equipment fetish again :-).


And now the video download....
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Every four years the circus of politics descends upon my tiny home state. In 4 1/2 hours, the vast entourage of candidates, volunteers, paid staff, reporters, and all of their minions will pack up and head out, leaving the state quiet for the next few years until the next deluge.

New Hampshire voters generally take their vote quite seriously. They understand how the rest of the nation looks to them to see who this frozen hick state dubs worthy. It is a weighty decision, given the few and far between times that someone who has NOT won the NH primary has gone on to win the white house (1952 to 1992 in fact...1992 Clinton lost to Tsongas. 1996 Buchannan won. 2000 McCain won). NH's voters have lots of help with their decision making process given that at least a year before the actual primary, the politicians descend, happy to talk to "the people" and provide all sorts of sage knowledge from which the NHites can sift in order to make their all important decision.

Living in Manchester during these times was always super charged. During the years I lived there, I learned more about politics than I think I ever should have. In 1972 I was pressed into service campaigning for Nixon (my dad made me). I went door to door hanging little door tags reminding people not to forget to vote. In 1976 I worked for Birch Bayh, on a floor of the old Sheraton Hotel, a building shared by Mo Udall's campaign, and the campaign of some unknown Indian chief guy whose campaign staff would lead squirt gun raids on the Udall and Bayh camps. One of Udall's guys hacked the elevator so it would no longer go up to the Indian chief's floor, making everyone far too tired to attack their opponents after climbing 12 floors. I spent several months stuffing envelopes and making phone calls for Bayh, and received a nice letter from him offering his later support in my future endeavors. Wonder if he'd make a good job reference :-)

In 1980 I was back in NH but this time as a reporter myself. Perhaps I should put reporter in quotes since it was for Channel 9, the then money starved cheap assed station that sent me on my first assignment to film Linda Ronstadt who was then campaigning for Jerry Brown. I had a little light and a ridiculous 16mm Bolex film camera I had to crank after shooting every 30 seconds of film. It was there the Secret Service kicked me out of an event because they didn't think I was a real reporter. It was also there I met Ronald Reagan who was trying to shoo me away as yet another admirer, causing me to have to point to the camera and microphone and say "television" in order for him to switch on his plastic smile.

I kinda miss being able to walk into someone's campaign headquarters and talk to their top staff (if not the person themselves...I had a brief to do with Jimmy Carter when he tried to commandeer my street corner in 76, which I won with an "I live here, you can find another corner" which wasn't bad for a 16 year old). There are other things I do NOT miss about NH, namely the snow, the cold, the lack of opportunity etc. But I do think that living in that kind of an environment helps the voters to make their choices with a bit less hype and a bit more "up close and personal." We shall certainly see.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
I'm watching the DVD for the first time, and several things have struck me as significant.

1) Even in black and white, BluRay is seriously gorgeous.
2) There are damn few journalists today who would do their research, write with conviction and truth rather than sensationalism, and stick their necks out to bring truth to the American people regardless of the consequences to themselves or their careers.
3) Some of the equipment portrayed in this movie, set in the 1950s, was still in use at the TV station I worked at in 1978/79.

I was a journalism major undergrad. I went to Boston University's School of Public Communication. Our professors continually hammered us to report the truth, do not make the news, report the news. Do not judge, do not stick a camera in the face of the grieving widow, do not trespass if you've been asked to leave, use common sense, do not sensationalize, etc. Reality in the "new world" of journalism is far different than what we were taught way back in college in 1984. It's almost painful to watch what passes for journalism on television these days. It saddens me.

As for the equipment, it truly was a different world before digital. We used newsFILM (remember film?), had a processor in the garage (the studios/offices were in an old victorian house) sitting in a constant pool of green and yellow chemicals, we cut the film manually and spliced it together on a reel for each show. Breaking news really didn't exist then, since it would take at least 90 minutes to process any film. The headsets we used were the same model used in the movie. Microphones too. It was amazing to have to use those ancient mikes that were almost as big as a desk model, with a little cord tether so we could hang it around our neck. It's amazing how much it weighs after the first few minutes.

The weather map I used was originally black and white. I had to get permission for the graphic artist to paint it. It was the same map as Gus Brenier used starting in the 1950s, mounted high enough for him to be comfortable with it. He was about 6' 4". When I came along to do weather, I had to stand on wooden coke boxes to be high enough to reach it on camera. One day, a coke box collapsed while I was on the air. New England was then WAAAAAAY up there on the national map.

We had 2 inch reel to reel videotape machines. My first audition tape was shot on one. They would constantly be going on the fritz, and there was always someone shouting "H PHASE" across the studio when the horizontal phase was off. Those things were terribly twitchy. We had a film chain that sometimes ate the news reel live on the air. We had a sound board from the 1960s, referred to as "the new board." Our AP teletype machine was an ancient huge loud box located in the bathroom on the 3rd floor in the news offices. Trying to get the latest bulletin coming over when someone was busy in the bathroom was quite the trick. Running from the 3rd floor attic offices down into the basement studio with new copy built up my legs and stamina in wonderful ways.

Regardless of how much or how little equipment and technology we had, we tried to report the news as it happened, and tried to get to the truth. As journalists, we felt we owed an allegiance to the concept that our job was to present the facts and let the viewer decide. We did our best to remain journalists, and not mere entertainers under the guise of news. We tried to be like Edward R. Murrow.

I can only wish that some of the entertainers currently called television news reporters would do the same.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Holy hell! I just read this article" in my hometown newspaper and am totally amazed. Miss Stips was my homeroom teacher, and although she wasn't my typing teacher, she was instrumental in helping me learn to touch type, without which I wouldn't have accomplished many of the things I've done over the years. Typing put me through college, got me many temp jobs, got me through law school, and has certainly helped the speed, if not the quality of my writing.

Miss Stips was always kind, generous of her time, and now I learn she was generous with her money as well. I remember that she was so upset that I was unable to get scholarships for college because I left school a year early. I am not surprised she would give to that cause. I *am* surprised that she would leave almost 2 million dollars. Public school teachers don't make much money anywhere, and definitely not in Manchester, NH.

Godsspeed, Patty Stips.
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Once upon a time, when I worked in television, we had a series of pretty damn good April Fools day stories we ran. The first was a spoof on the ridiculous idea (at the time) of TV traffic reports. After all, we thought, who has a TV in their car anyway? Furthermore, who would really care about a 2 or 3 minute delay in the metropolis of Manchester, NH? In any case, we rented an airplane, and shot footage of various cars at various intersections, including zooming in to things like "this orange Vega stopped at a yellow light causing a 2 minute backup on the Amoskeag Bridge this afternoon, etc. etc. It was pretty funny when coupled with the next story that purported to see how the new service was working. So the reporter stands there with his microphone, trying to stop cars that go zooming by, beeping the horn at him and telling him to get out of the way. He finally lays down in the road until a car barely stops in time (driven by ME...very scary). On the dash was a black and white TV with a cord we ran from a neighbor's house showing how wonderfully I watched TV while driving.

Another one included the announcement of a new Manchester, NH subway system using existing sewer pipes to "suck" the cars from station to station. There were important stops like Goffs Falls and Pinardville, and a lovely map showing little cars traveling happily around with all lines stopping at the sewerage treatment plant. We ran the story at 6, and our police scanner went off around 9 saying that a bunch of cars had gathered at the sewerage treatment plant. When the cops asked them what they were doing there, they all said they were waiting for the subway. *snicker*

Of course, there were also various "InterCon Derfs" including the April Fools "IRS Notice of Seizure and Attachment" with police tape across the door and a video camera in a plant across the hall filming people as they arrived and found the notice. There was a wide range of responses, including one guy who was showing up early to do his OWN April Fool's derf, laughed and just unlocked the door and went in. Another proclaimed he could get another job at a printing company. The Sales Manager started yelling about "how could this POSSIBLY happen after we had a million dollar month?" and tried to rip it off the door. Perfect strangers in the building said, "Poor InterCon. They're the only ones with NFS for the Mac." As each person made their proclamation or stood in stunned silence, the door would eventually open with other chuckling employees inside and drag them in. And much fun was had by all :-).
recalcitranttoy: (Default)
Yes dear, it's bad. Between the comedy of blasting late 70's disco (it's FUNK DAMMIT) and tape backup failure (you must now restart your computer by holding down the power button...) and magic fixer person being unavailable between 6 and 10, my instructions were to install OS X client on an external drive, use it to boot the server, turn on apple remote desktop, and we would retry the tape backup. So in goes the OS X install DVD into my G5 which kernel panics. *snicker* Tonight might be one of those "let's open the GOOD Merlot tonight, ok?" nights :-).

In the meantime, I've successfully got a spare laptop happily installing the OS X client software to the external drive, I'm laughing hysterically about the music I used to get paid to play, and am making many mp3s, such as, "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" and "In The Bush." Heh heh.

All in all, it could be worse. But don't postulate how, ok?
recalcitranttoy: (qhat)
While purging junk out of my house (and I still have another oh....2 months or so full time to make any meaningful reduction), I came across some of my old 3/4 inch tapes that I had dubbed off onto my puter. Looking through the footage has been rather interesting, as it includes bits and pieces of stuff I did in the late 70s on TV. Unfortunately, I have no existing footage of my news or weather stuff (only having ever had one 2 inch reel tape that someone was supposed to dub off for me but I never saw it again).

Seeing that 70's hair was really kinda scary. Seeing those 70's news stories was even MORE scary. Ok, I have definitely had today's quotient of fear fulfilled :-).

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