There is an old adage from comedian and raconteur Fred Allen, in that “imitation is the sincerest form of television.” In other words, if one TV network plans to air a certain type of high-concept program, you can be assured that another network will create a similar program. It happened a few years ago, when, with the success of AMC’s Mad Men, both NBC and ABC aired period dramas (The Playboy Club and Pan Am). Both shows were cancelled in mid-season, though…
Another example – at one point in time, NBC debuted their medical drama set in Chicago, ER, and in the same year CBS debuted their medical drama set in Chicago, Chicago Hope. Coincidence? You decide.
Well, for the upcoming 2016-17 television season, there are four fantasy time travel shows debuting on the major networks. Now this isn’t counting time-travel shows that are already part of network schedules, such as the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow or FOX’s Sleepy Hollow. No, we’re getting four different examples of time travel and the butterfly effect and prescience and whatnot. This could be fun, or we could see four quick cancellations. Don’t know.
But as a fan of the time-travel genre, this could be interesting. And for the moment, I’d like to share the upcoming promo clips for all four shows, and at least give some example of similar time travel shows that have aired on network TV in the past.
Case study number one – NBC’s upcoming series Timeless. Here’s the clip.
In Timeless, a criminal steals a time machine and goes back in time to destroy America by rewriting its history – and, of course, a team of scientists chase him through the strands of time to hopefully make right what was once wrong.
Similar TV time travel shows – Quantum Leap, The Time Tunnel, Time Trax.
Am I going to watch it? Yeah. Let’s see how it plays out.
Case study number two – FOX’s Making History.
Making History‘s comedic concept is thus. Modern guy has the hots for 1770’s-era girl, and goes back in time to date her. But in doing so, he accidentally delays Paul Revere’s ride (the girl he’s dating is Revere’s daughter), and thus he affects the modern timeline. So he and a professor go back in time to fix what was wrong and make things right.
Similar TV time travel shows – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures, It’s About Time (1960’s comedy caper), The Lost Saucer (that Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning show about time-traveling robots).
Am I going to watch it? Probably. It looks kinda funny.
Case study number three – The CW’s Frequency.
Frequency is based on a 2000 motion picture in which a modern-day man communicates with his dead father through a ham radio. And in that communication, information that the modern-day person passes to his father of a generation earlier actually changes the timestream of today. Again, the concept is to make right what once was wrong.
Similar TV time travel shows – The Twilight Zone episode “A Message From Charity,” in which a modern-day man communicates with a 1690’s-era Puritan girl.
Am I going to watch this? Yes I am. The trailer looks amazing. This show has a chance to be a winner.
And, of course, case number 4 – ABC’s Time After Time. Here’s the extended promo clip.
I’ve mentioned this before … but here’s the concept. H.G. Wells builds a time machine, but before he can test it, Jack the Ripper gets in and travels to our time. Wells follows … and now it’s a chase across time and space.
Similar time travel TV shows – Sleepy Hollow, Timecop: The Series, Doctor Who.
Am I going to watch this show? Let’s put it this way. If you start seeing recap reviews in this blog, you’ll know why.
So yeah, four time travel TV shows for the upcoming 2016-17 television season.
This could be really interesting.
So I ask you, dear blog readers … of these four shows, which program catches your interest? Which one would you set aside space on your DVR to record? And, conversely, which one do you think has the least hope of surviving past its initial broadcast order run?
Let me know in the comments section below.
Now if you’ll excuse me for a moment…
I’ve gotta check out this Craigslist advertisement for a used 1982 DeLorean DMC-12 with a slightly worn flux capacitor. I hear it has great mileage… and the last driver only took it up past 88 miles per hour on a few occasions.
This year’s massacre of popular television shows has had me a bit on edge. Nashville got the axe. No surprise there, the show had been operating on soap opera hysteria for the past two seasons or so. Galavant got the axe. I’m saddened by this, but I’m glad we did get two seasons of this show, and it was a good run while it lasted. CSI: Cyber got the axe. Wait … there was another CSI show out there? The Muppets got the axe. I’m sorry, but there are some beloved characters that should not get the “cinema verite” treatment, and the adventures of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, etc. are prime examples of this. Sleepy Hollow got renewed – wait, what? Even after it spent last year in the Friday Night Death Slot …
Then I saw some news that brightened my heart and made me smile.
The adaptation of the 1979 motion picture Time After Time WILL be a series on ABC this fall. Not just a “we’re thinking about it” pilot … but a full-fledged series.
The concept is thus. H.G. Wells, the man who wrote such books as The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, allegedly built his own time travel device. Before he can test it, however, one of his colleagues – who is secretly Jack the Ripper – gets in the time machine and travels to our modern day. The time machine returns back to Victorian London, and Wells follows the trail of Jack the Ripper to (in the 1979 movie) 1979 San Francisco.
In the TV show, Wells travels to 2016 New York City to chase the Ripper.
And here’s a teaser for the modern series.
This new show features Freddie Stroma (UnReal) as H.G. Wells, with Josh Bowman (Revenge) as Jack the Ripper. And apparently it’s one of three time-travel shows to air on the networks this year; Fox has one show (Making History), while NBC has another (Timeless).
For this I am psyched. I definitely want to see how this show progresses. Okay, I also want to see cameo appearances by Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen, who were in the original film… but that’s just wishful thinking.
I was a HUGE fan of the 1979 science fiction time travel movie Time After Time, in which H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) chased Jack the Ripper (David Warner) through the streets of modern-day San Francisco. It was suspenseful, it was funny, it was one of those films that I saw in the theater – and then came out of the cinema, bought another ticket, and went right back in to watch again.
Here’s a trailer for the original 1979 film, just to pique your interest.
Yeah. Scuse me, after I finish this blog post, I’m going to watch this film again. That’s how good it was.
Anyway, this post is actually NOT about the 1979 film, so much as it is about an upcoming possible 2016 TV series.
The entertainment industry blog Deadline has reported that ABC is working on a pilot that would either continue or reboot the 1979 movie. Casting for the pilot is underway, including instilling Freddie Stroma (Cormac McLaggen in the Harry Potter films) in the H.G. Wells time traveler lead role, and Regina Taylor (The Unit) as a modern-day businesswoman who guards the Time Machine in modern-day New York City.
Time travel TV shows have proved their popularity over the years, and usually involve the main character going back in time and righting what was once wrong; or getting trapped in a past time period and not being able to leave said time until some wrinkle in the timeline was ironed out. You know the shows by heart – Quantum Leap and The Time Tunnel were the most popular in that genre, but I could rattle off other time travel shows – Timecop: The Series, Time Trax, Tru Calling, 7 Days, Odyssey 5, Being Erica, Voyagers!, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures (the animated series), Back To The Future (the animated series), etc., etc.
But yeah, if this show actually makes it to full production as a TV series, man oh man I will block out my nights to watch this show. No “watch it later on demand” for me.
Let’s put it this way. I loved the original motion picture. And even if I can’t get Malcolm McDowell and David Warner and Mary Steenburgen to reprise their roles from four decades ago in this series…
I’m still psyched to see if this show actually takes off.
Back in ancient times, in the days when we didn’t have 4,000 channels from Time Warner Cable, we made do with our local channels and a few extra – mostly WPIX-11 in New York City and WSBK-38 in Boston. I want to take today’s blog post and focus on the New York City advertisements, for one simple reason.
They were on every New York City TV show. I could be watching The Flintstones or The Honeymooners and I would see these ads every single time. It didn’t matter if the ads were appropriate for the program or not. The ads became iconic and mnemonic. And even while researching this blog post, I had several memories flood back to me. So hopefully you’ll have memories after seeing these vintage ads as well.
Apparently there was only one major hotel that New York City residents visited, and they all had a great time there in the Poconos… At beautiful Mount Airy Lodge, with its top-flight night life and heart-shaped sleeping arrangements.
Of course, if you weren’t a romantic person, there was always that other hotel complex, The Nevele…
And then, after you’ve done your vacation, you could find a great place to live, at a Brooklyn housing complex known as Starrett City.
Now imagine if you’re visiting New York City for the first time. You want to stay at Trump Tower? Pfft. I got the location for you – you have to stay at the Collingwood Hotel. No lie. I’ve stayed at the Collingwood Hotel. And back in the day, their idea of a locked door was when the adhesive caulk finally dried in the lock.
And I always wondered if visitors to the Milford Plaza received a song and dance when their luggage was checked.
And if you’re traveling on New York City subways in the 1970’s, don’t drop your candy wrappers on the subway floors. Don’t. Just sayin’ is all…
I’ve blogged about Crazy Eddie in the past, but what would a collection of local New York City advertisements be without at least one Crazy Eddie clip?
And thanks to a post yesterday by Rob Hoffman, I suddenly had an urge to get a Carvel ice cream cake – either Cookypuss or Fudgie the Whale…
Of course, if I want to order before midnight tonight, I could get my mitts on a classical music collection that would rival the great assemblages of RCA shaded dog “Living Stereo” prints. Come on, 120 classical pieces from Vista Marketing, from the greatest orchestras in Europe.
So I hope these brought back lots of memories and lots of smiles. Trust me, you don’t get classic commercials like these any more.
Nearly 35 years to the day of its first – and only – broadcast, a rare and treasured piece of my history has resurfaced. The tape’s recovery and its contents… make for one of my most reflective blog posts of all time.
Right now I’m sitting in front of my television. I have a freshly-prepared digital video disc in my DVD player. And all I need to do is press PLAY on my remote control.
And every single emotion, every single memory that was trapped in a 34-year-old time capsule … is about to be released. The time capsule has been unlocked. Now it’s time to view the contents.
February 17, 2015. One of my Facebook friends, George Sweeney, was in the Capital District and wanted to organize a small get-together for his high school classmates. I’ve been FB friends with George for about a couple of years now, and I asked if he would mind if I joined them. He said that would be fine.
I met George and his high school friends – for them, it was like a nice little mini-reunion. Which is awesome. And although George and I knew each other – and I also knew one of his friends Mary, who plays on a local trivia team called The Summit – the rest of the friends greeted me with smiles and that uncertain look of did-I-go-to-school-with-you-but-I’m-not-sure-but-I-don’t-want-to-look-like-a-fool-if-I-don’t-remember-you…
“It’s okay,” I said to those who asked. “We didn’t go to school together. I’m a Facebook friend of George’s.”
“Maybe you dated someone in our school?” one of the women asked.
“Don’t think so,” I replied. “Our schools only crossed paths once.”
“Where did you go to school?” was her next question.
See, I didn’t mention at the top of this post that the mini-high-school reunion were from the members of Keveny Memorial Academy in Cohoes. Yep. Keveny was one of the three schools (Albany Academy and St. Mary’s of Hoosick Falls) that my inner-city alma mater defeated back in 1981 on Answers Please, the WRGB high school quiz show of a generation past. George Sweeney was actually on the Keveny team that day. And after the initial awkwardness of my introductions passed with George’s friends, we all had a good time and talked about many things, school-related and non-school related.
“Chuck,” George said, “I want you to meet my friend Steve. He was the alternate on our Answers Please team.”
Steve and I shook hands. We all commented about that tiny minute-short news clip – the only surviving footage I have ever found of my high school’s three-week-undefeated run on the show.
And as we talked, Steve said something to me. Something that, in my wildest dreams and craziest fantasies, I never thought would actually come true.
“I have that full episode on videotape.”
Let that sink in for a couple of moments. Because it took me more than a couple of moments to process that sentence.
Back in the day, to save production costs, the videotapes that contained each episode of Answers Please were erased or “wiped” so that WRGB could reuse the tape for new episodes. Doctor Who fans, you know my pain. The only time anybody was able to save an episode was if they had a VCR at the time and taped the show off the air, commercials and all. As for us, well, this was 1981 and none of us at Street Academy had VCR’s. Heck, Street Academy didn’t even have a dedicated audio-visual department.
And the only thing I ever found in WRGB’s archives was that tiny news clip. Any other proof of our triumphs came from old Times Union newspaper clippings (from when we beat Albany Academy 145-105) and some photographs that one of my teachers took the day we clobbered St. Mary’s of Hoosick Falls 150-60. Oh yeah, and I still have the championship trophy in my possession – that same trophy I saved after Street Academy – later Harriet Gibbons High School – was shuttered by the Albany City School District in 2010.
Steve and I talked some more. He said he had to look for the tape, it was part of his father’s collection of videotapes – apparently his father worked in the audio-visual department for both Keveny Academy AND Lansingburgh High School. I gave Steve my phone number and personal e-mail.
And on the way home from Brown’s Brewing, I thought about what just happened. Is this possible? Is there any chance in the world that, nearly 35 years later, one of the three times my high school appeared on WRGB’s quiz show might still exist in a tangible, viewable, full-length format?
Now I wait. I have to hope that Steve finds the tape. And I can’t think about anything else right now.
Friday, February 20, 2015. Television night. Just some casual catching-up on some shows I’ve missed over time. Hmm, I wonder if Parker Schnabel can find enough thawed Yukon ground to reach his 2,000-oz gold goal. I wonder if Tony Beets will get that ancient gold dredge working again. I wonder if the Hoffman crew –
RING RING RING
My cell phone’s ringing. Now who could be calling me so late in the evening? Caller ID says it’s a local call.
“Hi Chuck, it’s Steve, we met at Brown’s Brewing the other night.”
And all at once, like a siren, the only thing flashing in my mind was, “Did you find the tape. Did you find the tape. Please, in the name of all that’s holy in our universe, please tell me you – ”
“Hey, I found the tape.”
At that moment in my existence, Lynda Carter could have walked into the room in her full Wonder Woman costume, wrapped her golden lasso around my waist and commanded me to tell the truth about all the naughty things I could do with her if I had the chance, and I would have said, “Not now, Lynda, I’m on the phone, this is important.”
February 21, 2015. Saturday morning. I met Steve for breakfast at Bob’s Diner in Watervliet. He handed me the tape, which was in a black clamshell plastic case. The tape’s case was 10″x 7″, with a 1 1/2″ thickness. Yep, it was definitely larger than a standard VHS tape.
And on the side of the clamshell box… the details of the tape’s contents.
“I don’t know if you’ll be able to find someone who can duplicate this tape,” he said. “But I wish you all the luck in the world.”
Forget luck. I’m going to get this tape duplicated if I have to build the damn video duplication machine myself.
Okay. First I have to figure out WHAT TYPE OF TAPE this is. And after a few Google searches, I determined that the cartridge was something called a U-Matic ¾” tape. This was the format used in the 1970’s and 1980’s by schools, by production companies, and by broadcasters. This was the precursor to VHS and Betamax formatted tapes.
So now I needed to locate some company that could duplicate yesterday’s technology with today’s equipment. And a Google online search came up with several out-of-state companies that could duplicate the tape’s contents to either a DVD or on a digital format that can reside on a thumb drive.
Um… no. I have to find a place that can do it locally. I have to exhaust all my 518 area code options. I don’t want this tape leaving the Capital District. I’m already gun-shy from sending a roll of film to Rocky Mountain Film Lab FIVE YEARS AGO which still hasn’t been processed. And that was for a roll of film to which I had no emotional attachment. Not letting that happen EVER AGAIN. No freakin’ way.
More phone calls. I tried the local television stations, I tried local production companies, I tried whatever Google search might bear fruit. And the responses were the same depressing responses.
“Sorry, we got rid of our ¾” tape machine last year.”
“Sorry, our machine broke and it wasn’t cost-effective for us to get it repaired.”
“Sorry, we digitized all our ¾” library years ago. And right now we’re trying to digitize all our old Beta tapes.”
“Hi, I have what appears to be a ¾” U-Matic videotape cartridge, is there any way you can transfer its contents to a DVD?”
“Sure we can.”
Rats. Another no. Well, I guess I have to send the tape off to – hey, wait a second, hit the rewind button – ot ffo epat eht dnes ot evah i sseug i ,lleW .on rehtonA .staR – did he just say what I think he just said?
“You can bring the tape over, we’ll digitize it to DVD for you.”
At that moment in my existence, Debra Winger could have shown up at my doorstep, asking if I wanted to re-enact with her the steamiest scenes from a double-feature of Urban Cowboy and An Officer and a Gentleman, and I would have said, “Not right now, Debra, I’m busy.”
More questions. Turnaround time – acceptable. Cost – acceptable. Location – parking available. I can do this.
Tuesday, February 24. Drop-off day. I brought the cartridge to Photo Video Productions’ offices on Union Street in Schenectady. They open at 10:00 a.m. I’m in the parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Don’t judge me, how many of you waited outside the Apple Store for the newest iPhone?
And as I’m waiting in the parking lot, I’m going over all the possibilities of what could go wrong. U-Matic videotape cartridges aren’t designed to last forever. If this tape was stored improperly, the tape could actually adhere to itself on the reels. It’s something called “Sticky Shed Syndrome,” and if you’re a broadcast engineer or a music producer that worked with analogue tape, you know those words “Sticky Shed Syndrome” can give you palpitations. To cure “Sticky Shed Syndrome,” a technician would have to dip the tape in a chemical bath to loosen the tape apart. Then, after the chemical bath, there would be once chance – ONLY ONE CHANCE – to get the tape’s contents.
Believe me, I’m as nervous as hell about what’s on this tape. And condition of the tape is only ONE of my worries. What if this tape is blank? What if it somehow got demagnetized or degaussed over time? What if the wrong tape is in the box?
I’m this close. So close to that moment, that pivot-point in my life where my high school shocked the Capital District and upended three mighty schools in three consecutive weeks. Even if I never see any footage from the other two games… there’s still a tiny, tiny possibility that the contents on this tape have survived.
A technician greeted me at the door and took the cartridge from my hands. “Three-quarter tape,” he instantly noted. “And it looks like it’s in very good condition, too. Just one thing we have to take care of right now.”
And with that, he flipped the tape over and removed a bright red plastic plug from the cartridge’s underside.
“Once this plug is removed, this tape can’t be overwritten.”
Nice to know.
We talked for a few moments about the contents of this tape, and the fact that for years, WRGB produced several different in-house entertainment programs – shows like TV Tournament Time and Pick-A-Show and Teenage Barn and Student Spectrum –
“Oh yeah, Student Spectrum,” the technician noted. “I used to teach audio-visual at Shenendehowa, and any time WRGB couldn’t get a student team for their Student Spectrum newscasts, they would call me and say, ‘Hey, Mohonasen didn’t send any kids today, help!’ and I would have four kids on a bus from Shen down to Schenectady to tape the student newscast.”
He looked over the tape again. “Give us a couple of days. We’ll take good care of this for you.”
Wednesday, February 25. I received a phone call.
“Hi Chuck, this is Photo Video Productions in Schenectady.”
“Please tell me you have good news.”
“Well… yes we do.”
“The tape survived?”
“There were a few tiny drop-outs, but nothing that won’t be noticeable. I will tell you, though, the tape was very close to deteriorating, so it’s good that you brought the tape in for us to transfer.”
“You’ve got the tape transferred?”
“Yes we do.”
“And it’s on a DVD now?”
“Yes it is.”
“And it’s the game show from the past?”
“Yes it is.”
“The whole game show?”
“Yes it is.”
At that moment in my existence, Margot Robbie could have shown up in her flight attendant outfit from the Pan Am television series of a couple of years ago, and asked if I wanted to re-enact scenes with her from the great American novel Coffee, Tea or Me?, and I would have said, “Not now, Margot, I’m busy. Go hang out with Lynda and Debra for a while.”
The tape survived. The episode survived.
I looked at my watch. There wasn’t enough time to get to Schenectady to pick up the DVD before Photo Video closed for the day. I asked if I could pick up the tape the next day; at which time I would pay for the DVD and the tape transfer. They agreed. “See you tomorrow, Mr. Miller.”
And as the phone conversation ended… I thought once more. It’s not a fantasy. It’s not a dream. It’s a dream come true.
Holy freakin’ Philo T. Farnsworth meets E.F.W. Alexanderson, I’m going to see that Answers Please episode for the first time in nearly 35 years. Not just a tiny news clip, but the whole freakin’ contest!!
Thursday, February 26. I’m sitting in the parking lot at Photo Video Productions in Schenectady. And I’m thinking back to my life 34 years ago.
I was living with an aunt and uncle, due to my unwillingness to live with either set of my toxic parents. And I was out of school for at least a year because my aunt and uncle thought that I should be a live-in babysitter and extra welfare check for them. I was at what might have been the lowest point in my life. I wasn’t a person. I was a marginalized indentured servant, held by manacles of bloodline and obligation.
And going to Street Academy, an alternate high school on Clinton Avenue in Arbor Hill, saved my life and my soul. I attended school with friends and equals. My teachers helped educate me and motivate me. They convinced me that I could become more. “Never settle for just good enough,” my favorite teacher, Bonnie Diefendorf, told me. It’s the words and that message that have carried me every single day.
In fact, that last Monday in February in 1981, I went with one of my English / literature teachers, Peter Balint, to watch a taping of Answers Please live at the WRGB studios. We watched as Cooperstown High School won their third game in a row – a 300-0 pounding over some school that probably closed when the radio reported three snowflakes in the sky – which meant that Street Academy, as an alternate replacement whenever a school retires undefeated after three games – would play that next Monday night against Albany Academy.
On the way back home from the WRGB studios, Peter drove by the Albany Academy campus. From the car, he pointed out the various buildings and structures on the Academy grounds. I saw the impeccably manicured grounds, I saw the athletic buildings.
“Chuck,” he asked me, “do you really think that you have a chance against what this school represents?”
I thought for a second. “Why wouldn’t we?” I responded. “It’s our turn to shine.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear,” he smiled. “You can do this. All of you can do this.”
Three Answers Please wins later… and we weren’t just that school in Arbor Hill that the Albany City School District used as a dumping ground for whatever students they gave up on. Not any more. Now we were high school students that were ready to shock the world and stake our claims.
It’s why I named my current bar trivia championship team Street Academy. The school saved my life. It will always be a part of me. And I will never forget the positive influence of its existence, or its motto of “Knowledge / Freedom / Brotherhood.” Never forget.
The time for daydreams has ended. I walk into the Photo Video Productions office. The contents of the vintage videotape have been transferred to DVD. I purchase the DVD, and the DVD and the original source tape are returned to me.
The only way I’ll truly know if this is the original episode is that I remember that WRGB used the Electric Light Orchestra’s “Fire On High” as the theme music for Answers Please. If you’ve never heard “Fire On High,” here’s a clip of the original recording.
And for the first time in nearly three and a half decades…
As I press the PLAY button on my home DVD player… with 34 years of anticipation…
I see this. Complete with the theme music from ELO’s “Fire On High.”
Yes. It’s the entire episode of Answers Please that aired on March 15, 1981. After an early couple of flubbed questions on my part, Keveny jumped out to an early 35-0 lead.
Okay, you got spotted a 35-point lead, Keveny. It’s time to move the chains.
And oh my Lord did we move those chains. We nailed six consecutive toss-up questions to claim a first-half lead, and in the video you can see Keveny’s team captain Matt Maron just getting more and more frustrated every time we beat them to the buzzer. And in the second half, Starkeema Lloyd, Frieda Tillman, Candy Williams and I just put the pedal to the metal and roared away. Four consecutive correct toss-up questions to start the second half before Keveny could even get back on the board.
And I have to say this. After watching this tape with fresh eyes, I can say for certainty that Keveny was a much stronger squad than we imagined. They could have come back on those bonus questions, but we wouldn’t let them. I mean, at one point in the video, near the end of the second half, I’m getting ready to answer a question about the words that are found on every U.S. coin, and Keveny buzzes in right as I’m saying the answer. I didn’t realize I could pull off a death stare. Wow.
And then, near the end, Starkeema Lloyd nails a toss-up question that gives us more bonus questions… yeah. We got this. Final score, Street Academy 185, Keveny Academy 105.
As the episode ended, the television cameras panned to the crowd – unlike the first game, in which Albany Academy had six chartered buses full of fans and we had barely a dozen in the audience, the crowd between Street Academy and Keveny was more balanced. And I saw faces I hadn’t seen in ages – classmates, teachers, friends. Those who are still with us, and those who have been called to glory.
Wow. I watch the episode again. Right now, all my emotions are bouncing around like atoms in a particle accelerator. And I remembered how dorky I looked back then. Man, I didn’t just have acne. I had super-zit-craters-of-the-moon acne; hell, if there was a pizza that was missing five pepperonis, apparently those pepperonis were on my chin. And you can see that I’m holding my right hand over my left wrist throughout the telecast. There was a reason for that.
Maybe someday, maybe tomorrow or ten years from now, or three days after I pass away … one of the other two Answers Please episodes with the Street Academy High School championship trivia team might surface. Maybe someone recorded those episodes and kept them on a shelf and forgot about them. It’s happened here. Maybe it happened again somehow or somewhere.
But as far as I’m concerned right now, I never thought I’d see this footage. Not in my lifetime. Not ever. And here it is. The time capsule has been opened and experienced.
March 1, 2015. I’m at the First Presbyterian Church on State Street in Albany. My fellow blog buddy Roger Green announced on his blog that there would be a performance of ‘The Gospel According to the Beatles,” as performed by the youth members of the church.
As I read Roger’s blog, I noticed that the orchestra would be conducted by Christian Diefendorf. I know that name.
I’ve already sent copies of the Answers Please episode to various people – several of my Street Academy teachers, to several of the Keveny Academy players, a copy to WRGB for its archives. I had one more copy to distribute.
Before the performance, I asked to speak with Christian Diefendorf. And I gave him a copy of the DVD. See, three and a half decades ago, he was in the audience that night, along with his mother, as we won against Keveny that night.
After the church performance – which was quite good in and of itself – I congratulated Christian on the concert. He pointed to a little girl nearby. “There’s Bonnie,” he said.
Yes. I could see the resemblance in Christian’s daughter to his mother – English and literature teacher Bonnie Diefendorf. The teacher at Street Academy who encouraged me to never settle for “just good enough.”
As you can imagine, I was happy to make sure he received a copy of the DVD as well. Because for every person who thought that it was just Chuck Miller versus everybody on that show, I will tell you right now that we won as a team. And that team wasn’t limited to the four students at the dais. It was every teacher, every classmate, every mother and father and sister and brother and daughter and son who encouraged us to achieve and to never give up.
And now for a gracious and generous amount of thanks. Thanks to Photo Video Productions of Schenectady, who did a great job in getting the original U-Matic cartridge recording converted to a DVD format. Thanks also to Steve Veselka, Jr., who still had the tape, and to his father – Steve Veselka, Sr. – who had the foresight to record this episode and save it for nearly 35 years. Thanks to my classmates and teachers and administrators, all of whom gave us the strength and will-power to take on the world and prove we were worthy of the challenge.
What a wonderful feeling to see this footage once again.
I was doing some maintenance to some of the old blog posts of mine – repairing old YouTube links and URL’s, for example – and I came across this old video clip of an event from three years ago.
In March 2010, the Times Union hosted a blogging get-together at the College of Saint Rose. I remember being part of this event; heck, I even showed up in a little video clip that promoted the event.
And as I looked at this video clip… I realized…
Man, how we’ve all changed in the past three years since this conference.
Friendships were made. Connections were forged. Bridges were burned. Ha. Three years ago, and it seems like three DECADES ago.
And maybe I’m just being a pragmatist, thinking about how my world has changed over the past few years… but do me a favor, take a look at this old video clip… man, it’s like dragging out the old Super 8mm film projector, pointing it at the white wall in the living room, closing the draperies, and traveling back in time.
Okay, Sherman, set the WABAC machine to March of 2010.
Let’s see… man, this is almost like a yearbook reunion.
Naomi Seldin (the Simpler Life blog) got married to Mark Ramirez (the Dog Owned Life). Interesting, they’re at the start and at the end of this video clip. Guess they found each other through all the other bloggers in between, eh?
Teri Conroy brought one of her chickens to the taping. I think she originally planned on bringing one of the llamas, but it was probably easier to carry poultry into the Saint Rose taping session.
Hey Laurie Northrop, is that one of the Royal Order of Ancient Carissima Hamsters in your film clip?
Vic Christopher went from operating the ValleyCats to becoming a successful restaurateur in Troy. Guess someone else gets to wear the Southpaw costume.
Hey Sonja Stark, after three years has that camera gotten any smaller? My lord, it looks like that thing comes with its own Teamsters.
1:28. Jay Gallagher. Great guy. God rest his soul.
Hey, there’s Roger Green. Roger Green is like E.F. Hutton. When Roger Green speaks… people listen.
4:20. Dang, I lost a lot of weight since 2010… And I’m not digging that clean-shaven look. Goatee for me.
Wait wait I know what that white porcelain gravy-boat-like thing is… it’s a Neti Pot, isn’t it?
Man, how we’ve changed in the past three years. Lots of people who used to blog for the TU aren’t with the TU blogfarm any more.
And through it all, I think the message of blogging has changed and evolved since 2010. There are so many different ways to express your opinions online. So many thoughts, so many questions, even more answers and responses. What worked in 2010 may not work in 2013. And what might work in 2013, maybe no one ever thought of in 2010.
Speaking only from experience, I know my blog has evolved over the years. The journey I took with this little weblog was not what I expected when I started in August 2009. And I have no idea where it will take me. But I keep going, and all of you are welcome to join me for the journey yet to be.
I can only imagine that maybe someday, we can have another “all the bloggers get together” event. We can make another set of film clips and mini-interviews, put it in a time capsule, and open it in 2016.
Sorry… just feeling a bit nostalgic today. Hope you understand.
I’ve taken you loyal, dedicated readers on a journey through my life. Every time I post something on this nearly three-year-long association with the Times Union, I’ve brought you closer to parts of my history – both good and bad, both uplifting and depressing. It’s part of what I do.
But I thought for a while this morning, about where I would like to go if I had the opportunity. Not to a state or a country, but to a faraway time. Not to the future, the future hasn’t happened yet. But to the past.
And the challenge would be – pick five historic time frames to visit. Any five places. One has to be personal. Three of them have to be prior to your birth. And one is a wild card, to be used in any situation.
The rules are simple. I can’t go back and change time. I can’t stop Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle any more than I can stop water from flowing through your fingers. I can’t talk to anybody and have them talk back to me. In this instance, I am just an observer.
So I looked back in time. And I came up with a few choice moments in my life.
January 29, 1920. I’m at the Washington Avenue Armory, for a rip-roaring battle between the Albany Senators and the Troy Trojans, the two top professional basketball teams of their era. There’s six thousand people wedged into the Armory, so much so that one of the temporary bleachers has collapsed, injuring several spectators. At one point in time, Albany and Troy were part of the New York State League, one of the last basketball circuits to enclose the playing field in a wire-mesh cage. I would have loved to have seen that game, and watch Albany’s basketball hall of famers “The Heavenly Twins” – Marty Friedman and Barney Sedran – defeat Troy and eventually take first place in the league standings.
August 8, 1947. Robert Ripley, the world traveler and “Believe It Or Not!” comic strip artist, has arrived in Albany aboard his Chinese junk Mon Lei. He speaks at the Palace Theater and broadcasts his radio show from the Hudson River. We all get excited whenever someone famous visits the Capital District – last year one would think the Capital District was comprised of Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Gosling-ville. But when Robert Ripley arrived in Albany, it was treated as Times Union front page news, with bulletins from page to page.
February 18, 1861. Perhaps it could be settled, once and for all, as to whether Abraham Lincoln, after winning election to the Presidency and arriving in Albany for a few speeches, might have taken in a performance at the New Gayety Theater in downtown Albany. The show that night was a play called The Apostate. The performer on stage? Some actor named John Wilkes Booth.
September 23, 1981. I want to sit in the highest seat at Bleecker Stadium, along the Clinton Avenue side of the facility. From there, I could watch the South African national rugby team, the Springboks, destroy the local competition 41-0. And on the other side of the fence, I could see the protestors and people of conscience decrying South Africa’s state-enforced human rights violations of apartheid and the jailing of political prisoners.
August 19, 1971. Another game at Bleecker Stadium, this time an Eastern League baseball contest between the Reading Phillies and the Pittsfield Senators in what was billed as a test for the Senators to relocate their games to Albany. Bleecker was packed, and the crowd saw some young minor leaguer named Mike Schmidt hit two home runs that day. Albany would get a few more “trial” games, but it wouldn’t receive its own Eastern League team until 1983.
I’ve gone back in time with each one of these events. Many of them were part of writing projects for magazines and sports yearbooks, and you would be amazed at how much data you can pull from the microfilms at the Albany Public Library. I thought about those days – back when I didn’t have an internet upon which to Google information. Back when I could read those old microfilms and get distracted by the comic strips of 1962 or by an advertisement about what was on movie screens in Albany that week. Back when the big building complex in the center of downtown Albany was called the South Mall. Back when our area was known as “Metroland,” before the newspaper of the same name came into existence.
In a few months, I have the honor and privilege of being the keynote speaker at the Albany High School Class of 1962 50th reunion. And if I’m going to be a proficient and knowledgeable speaker, to be able to relate memories and information about a time period prior to my birth, with references to Albany’s past cultural time…
I gotta get back to those microfilms again.
If nothing else, those microfilms are my own personal time travel device.