Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘television’ Category

Whitney

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The older I become, the more people I know and love who seem go off and die on me.

That’s just a part of growing older, I know, but the the past couple of years the pace seems to have picked up a bit.  I’ve lost three good friends and a dear uncle to cancer-related illnesses and an accident in the past year alone, and all of them well before their years.

So when I heard the news about Whitney Houston over the weekend, like so many others, I was stunned.  We hadn’t heard much from her in recent years, and when we did, it was often initiated in tabloids.

But back in her heyday, when we heard from her regularly, it was from that whopping, stunning, belting angelic voice — it was like she could reach out and sing to the whole wide world.

Judging from the outpouring of love, sadness, sympathy and fond remembrance in the social realm this weekend after the news was out, she did reach the whole wide world. I never knew there were so many Whitney Houston fans out there.  Yesterday afternoon, Facebook was literally a living memorial to the singer.

I also immediately felt bad for the Grammys producers.  To receive such momentous and tragic news the night before the Grammys broadcast, and then to have to try and figure out how to both remember Whitney and continue to fete the year in music??!

Not an easy balance to strike.

In 1998, I had occasion to work with the Grammys team when IBM sponsored and produced the official Webcast. That year, the Dixie Chicks broke out, Monica was celebrated, and Will Smith won for best rap album. But what I always remembered was how professional and capable were the people behind the scenes at the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

So I was hardly surprised when this year’s excellent Grammys emcee, LL Cool J, walked onstage after Bruce Springteen’s opening act and addressed Whitney’s passing head on and with a prayer, explaining “This night is about something truly universal and healing. This night is about music.”

Or when several of the other artists tipped their hat to Whitney in some way during their own respective performances.

Or, of course, during Jennifer Hudson’s haunting performance of the song Whitney made famous, “I Will Always Love You.”  I’m not sure how Hudson got through that song without breaking down onstage herself.

However carefully orchestrated the tribute was, it was tastefully executed and left me thinking this was one of the most exciting Grammy’s broadcasts in years.

I hadn’t planned on watching the Grammys this year, but curiosity got the better of me — not only because of Whitney’s passing, but also because I knew I’d likely see a lot of music I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Like Adele.  I missed Adele on the first go around at the Grammys, and though I have heard a couple of her songs, I never put the name and the face together.  She was just a name I kept hearing.

And before you suggest I live under a rock, the fact is, I don’t listen much to the radio anymore, and I certainly don’t live on iTunes (you’ll more likely find me on Pandora). So for me, the Grammys is as good as a place as any to find out about new music — and to find out who Adele is.

Well, after seeing Adele interviewed by Anderson Cooper before the broadcast, and after watching her rendition last night of “Rolling in the Deep” during the broadcast, I became another instant in her otherwise millions of fans around the world.

Adele seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders. She doesn’t seem to take all this fame and fortune stuff too seriously — but then she walks out on that stage before a few hundred million people and delivers that powerful singing punch like nobody’s business.

I hope she keeps it that way.  Too many of our other great artists were taken too soon because of a combustible mixture of drugs and alcohol that are always, quite literally, a recipe for disaster.

We ask so much of them sometimes, our celebrities.  We want to know everything about them.  We want them to be perfect.  We want them to be always on.

Instead of letting them just be human like the rest of us.

Elvis Presley.  Marilyn Monroe.  Jimi Hendrix.  Janis Joplin.  Michael Jackson.  Amy Winehouse.  And now, it seems, Whitney Houston.

I don’t know about you, but that list is enough tragedy to last me a lifetime.

So, I suggest we let Adele take her six Grammys and disappear back into the English countryside and that we leave her the hell alone until she’s ready to leave her compound and go back on tour.

Let her enjoy her gramophone trophies and hanging out with her new love — we’ve all got our own lives to get on about.

As for Whitney Houston, may she rest in peace. I, like so many others, will choose to remember her when she belted them out like in the video below, where she took the U.S. national anthem to a whole other level.

Whitney, you will be missed.

Written by turbotodd

February 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Luck

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I decided to try my luck last night watching “Luck,” the new Michael Mann directed, David Milch produced HBO series about the sport of horse racing.

If you’re not familiar with David Milch’s work, you’re missing some of the best TV ever: “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue,” “Deadwood,” “Brooklyn South.”  “Deadwood” has to be one of my all-time faves.

So Milch’s foray into horse racing, it turns out, wasn’t simply a fictional exercise.  He’s also been a race horse owner himself.

The first episode, like a good long 1 1/4 mile race, got off to a slow start, but by the end of the episode you could see some momentum building.

We’ll see how the race for ratings for “Luck” pans out in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, PGA golfer Kyle Stanley simply ran out of luck, or skill, or something at the Farmers Insurance tournament at Torrey Pines (San Diego, CA).

They were playing the South course over the weekend, one of my faves, and Stanley strutted into the 18th hole in his last round with a three stroke lead over Tennessean Brant Snedeker.

However, Stanley’s luck faded when he hit what seemed like a beauty of a shot over the water and behind the pin on the par 5 18th. However, the English he put on the ball spun it all the way back to the edge of the green and into the water.

Stanley then hit is now 5th shot into the green, and three putted for an 8, bringing Snedeker back into the tournament in a playoff that took them both back to the tee at 18. They tied on the first playoff hole, so they returned to the par 3 16th, where Snedeker sent his tee shot over the green next to the TV tower. He got a good drop (actually, a placement), and proceeded to chip within 6 feet.  No gimme, but a makable turning putt.

Stanley plopped his tee shot onto the short side of the green, then put his putt also within 5 or 6 feet. Snedeker was ruled out, and in his ever impatient style, dropped his putt directly into the cup. Stanley, however, slid his putt past the hole, and it was painful to watch him realize a tournament that was his wire-to-wire, had suddenly dropped beyond his grasp.

If that’s the kind of drama we’re going to see in week 4 of the 2012 PGA Tour, then I can’t wait for next week…and to find out who else’s luck might run out!

Written by turbotodd

January 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm

The Royal Family Social

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This is going to be a big week, particularly in the U.K.

After watching “Morning Joe’s” coverage early today from Trafalgar Square, I’m about ready to hop a Virgin Atlantic flight directly across the pond, take the Heathrow Express direct to Paddington Station, hop in a hackney, and proceed directly to Buckingham Palace for some full-on Clash style crowd surfing.

Judging from my convos with some loyal British subjects, and from Joe, Mika, and Willie’s coverage from Trafalgar, we U.S. Americans are much more enthusiastic about Will and Kates’ Royal Wedding than those in the U.K.

In fact, the British government declared this Friday yet another bank holiday, and the Morning Joe suggested up to 1/3 of the British people would be leaving London for the weekend.

Can’t say as I blame them. You remember the lyrics from that 1979 classic from The Clash?

London calling to the faraway towns, Now war is declared, and battle come down

London calling to the underworld, Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls

London calling, now don’t look to us, Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust

London calling, see we ain’t got no swing, ‘Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

Yeah, Phony Beatlemania may have gone the way of the do do bird, but royal watching is reaching a new and fevered pitch in anticipation of April 29th.

Me, I remember the first royal wedding I ever witnessed.

I was a wee lad of 15, and it would be another 14 years before I’d make my way to Buckingham Palace live and in person.

I distinctly remember the carriage carrying Charles and Diana down the streets of London, and I also distinctly remember what looked like a few million people lining the streets, most every one of them with a smile on their face.

Putting aside for a moment the Royal Wedding barf bags and toilet seats and cheap-looking “limited edition” anniversary china, let’s not forget one small but not trivial detail about all this hooplah: Two young people are getting married!

Granted, they’re doing so in front of an expected TV audience of two billion people, but nonetheless, they’re having a wedding and they’re getting married.  That’s something worth celebrating, especially considering the lackluster last few years that Great Britain and the world have had.

We could all use a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to celebrate.

One other major difference between 1981 and this week’s royal nuptials: There was no commercial Internet in 1981 — that would take another decade plus, which means there was also no social media.

Oh how far we’ve come in thirty years.  And I’m not just referring to the royal toilet seats.

No, this time around, Prince William and Catherine Middleton will be broadcast on the YouTube Internets for all the world to see, hosted on the official Royal Channel, and everybody is going to have an opinion and perspective.  Joy.

But if you want the inside skinny, the Royal Channel includes a blog, some Twitterin’ by Royal staffers, and even a procession map so you can following the bouncing couple as they zip around in their Royalmobile after they tie the knot.

Unfortunately, the gorgeous spring weather is expecting to evolve into rain on Friday.

Hopefully not a harbinger of times to come for the pending royal couple, but certainly reason enough to take advantage of the endless and ubiquitous video and social coverage and skip the barricades and umbrellas.

Me, my game plan goes like this: I’m going to record it all on my DVR, then create my own soundtrack for a multi-hour replay featuring the best of the best music that originated in the UK: The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Who, Queen, The Kinks, and any other rowdy English rock ‘n’ roll musicians I can think of.

Because for me, great music that celebrates everything the British realm is, and is not, are some of the great gifts to the world by the British people over the last half century.

But I’ll gladly take a royal barf bag, preferably unused — just so I have at least one memorable souvenir of Will and Kate’s big day!

Written by turbotodd

April 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Mad Men (and Women)

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I watched with eager anticipation the premiere of the fourth season of “Mad Men” last evening.

Me, along with everybody else in the advertising and marketing world, to be sure.

What strikes me about that show, however, is how much it’s not really about the world of advertising.  That includes the premiere show that aired last evening.

We’ve flashed forward a year or so since last season’s end, this time with Sterling Cooper having hung out their own shingle and having their own office space, instead of the single hotel room we saw last episode.

Don’s personal shortcomings pervaded the first episode of the new season. 

First, he blew an interview with a peg-legged reporter (“Korea,” he explains) from AdAge, failing to realize the interview wasn’t so much about his own personal vanity than it was to draw attention (and business) to the fledgling firm.

Hard to believe Draper’s character (particularly at this juncture) was either that modest or naive, but okay, I went along for the ride.

When he told the clients of bikini-wear maker Jantzen to get the hell out of his office, despite losing the potential ad placements, you could see Draper drawing a line between the clashing mores of the 50s and the 60s.  

He was going to work for forward-thinking, progressive businesses, or he was going to find another line of work.

Of course, his family life continues to be a mess…also the point…and Draper has become almost downright vindictive by now when it comes to ex-wife Betty, informing her she’s already overstayed her welcome in the house.  Her new husband, the politico, doesn’t make any brownie points with Betty when he suggests Don’s right.

At the end of the episode, you see Draper doing another interview, this time with a Wall Street Journal reporter.  This time, the show is on.  Draper’s as cocky and confident and ever, and the reporter’s soon eating out of Draper’s hands.

I’ve no doubt Sterling Cooper is about to find themselves very well positioned to take advantage of the dramatic changes taking place in the latter half of the 1960s.

I just hope Don Draper doesn’t entirely lose his soul along the way.

Written by turbotodd

July 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm

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