Friday, November 22, 2013

Yes, I Know Where I was 50 Years Ago Today

I share this with virtually all people my age and older; I distinctly remember where I was when President Kennedy was assassinated. It must have been like that for those who heard the first Pearl Harbor announcement.

50 years ago I was 10 years old and descending a staircase in a Bethesda elementary school when someone ran up to the stair rail and yelled down "the Presidents been shot." Interestingly the event itself didn't anchor this in my psyche, it was what came after. Yes there was shock at the announcement, but I don't remember having the kind of emotion my mother did; she cried off and on for three days. It was the reaction that she and everyone else had that cemented this memory for me.

Everything stopped for those three days. It was all anyone talked about. There were four channels on TV in the greater Capitol Region back then (I remember, they were 4, 5, 7 and 9!), no cable it was all broadcast, and each of them "signed off" between 11PM and midnight. For those three days all programs were cancelled and it was wall to wall news broadcast.

I remember seeing Walter Cronkite (CBS), Huntley and Brinkley on NBC, and some white-haired guy on ABC (was it Peter Jennings?) doing most of the face time reporting on rapid fire happenings. A jumble of the Presidents health, LBJ's swearing in, Jackie's reaction, the hunt for the killer, his arrest, and so on.

Many years later someone commented on the fact that, with the advent of TV and other mass media, it was possible for a huge number of Earth's inhabitants to share a common, life-changing reaction to an event in real time, almost at the same instant. It was one of those "hey, I never thought of that" moments, and the poster child was the Kennedy assassination. Everyone shared the kind of info I disclosed about "where they were," and it kept a lot of conversations going for a while.

The only other events where I distinctly remember where I was and what I was doing were the Challenger disaster and 9/11. 

So what's the takeaway here. I remember probably hundreds of bad news stories based on their shock and sadness, but only a very, very tiny handful burn the where and when into my life's recollections. On this anniversary of such a heinous event, here's hoping there aren't anymore like it, or if there are they will be very few, and very far between.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Tentative Return, Maybe

Over two years ago I just stopped posting on this blog. I'm not positive exactly why.  My last post was a long-winded, poke at the nation's debt crisis (in fact the last two were). I think maybe I suffered a sort of fatigue after I wrote it, because even though it may not look like it, I read, re-read, rewrite and generally suffer over every post until I'm sick of it. Not satisfied with it, just sick. I think I looked at that post and realized the fun had drained out of doing this, then I couldn't go back.

This was to be another way of connecting with my children, so why the heck take up a serious current topic and just blather on about it? I had become a curmudgeon, and not in any fun sense of the word.  Writing thoughts rolling around in my head is a legitimate reason for a blog, as if there needs to be one, but for the most part, my blog should be light, and at least occasionally funny. Think I got waaaay too invested in that last one. And also, preachy...

Long ago I decided to stop "lecturing" and giving out unsolicited advice, trying to divest myself of the "men are from Mars" need to fix things. I think my kids had just been politely listening to me dispense this "wisdom," because even if it was useful, they didn't ask for it. I revisited all this after that last post, which I felt was overdone and stuffy.

So why am I back? Recently I realized I hadn't stopped blogging, exactly. What I did was transfer my need to hunt-and-peck over to reviewing films on Netflix. A few days ago I found myself going all Roger Ebert on a sucky movie I had watched, decided to look at my first review on the site and realized the date was almost the same as my last blog! Further, I had written reviews at about the same pace as I had blog entries.

I had never considered writing one until the reviews I read on one movie just pissed me off. I won't go into it, suffice to say lard-headed ignorance was spewed all over it and I felt compelled to say something. Over time I have written 20 reviews, for both excellent and horrible movies. Realizing taste is personal, I got better at specifying what was worthy and why, without espousing any false or unearned expertise. I am quite proud that one of my reviews is in the top three of a movie, receiving 34 out of 34 "helpfuls."

But now I want to do things like slam "shaky cam" and "found footage" movies. Maybe I think it'll help to close the doors on those "techniques" and "genres" that I despise. However, while writing such things pleases me, it adds nothing to the discourse of good vs. bad movie. Such things belong in a proper blog, if I really need to go on about them. So maybe I'll give this thing a chance again, and if I start ranting about something, I will do my best to make it funny or informative.  We'll see.