Chuck Berry, Run, Run, Rudolph

Posted in Chuck Berry, Youtube Favs on December 21st, 2011 by Willie

“All I Want for Christmas is a Rock and Roll Electric Guitar…” I wonder how many Fenders and Gibsons this line sold.  1958’s “Run, Run, Rudolph,” is basically Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” rewritten as a Christmas song, but when you’ve written the 4 greatest possible rock and roll songs or so, what does it matter if you copy yourself?  Actually, Chuck didn’t even write the words for this song.  Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie own that distinction, giving Chuck a beautiful snow covered Christmas wonderland for him to sled around on his guitar.  Anyway, this song is extremely joyful and fun, and the thing is, you only hear it around Christmas making it easy to forget.  So, lets not forget it this Christmas, and soak up all the jolly spirit it has to offer.

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Twenty One, The Quiz Show Scandals

Posted in Quiz Show Scandal, Youtube Favs on November 7th, 2011 by Willie

A movie I always loved was Quiz Show, the 1994 film directed by acting legend Robert Redford.  The movie is about the infamous practice of game show rigging that went on in the 1950s, especially at NBC with their hit show “Twenty One.”  Proclaiming to audiences that the questions to the answers were kept in a secure bank vault, the reality was that the contestants were outright told the answers before the broadcast, and were also told when to take a dive when the audience grew tired seeing them win.  It was a stunning fraud perpetrated to keep rating high and sell the sponsor’s products, in this case Geritol, a “tired blood” supplement.  The movie focused on Columbia University teacher Charles Van Doren, a handsome, well bred, and well spoken intellectual, and Herbert Stempel, an unemployed everyman from Queens who was asked to take a dive.  Stempel went along with the fraud because he was promised a future on television which he never received.  Incensed by NBC kicking him out the door, Stempel blew the whistle on the whole charade, eventually getting the attention of federal prosecutors in Washington DC who helped blow the lid off the thing.  The movie is great because its a rich and sumptuous look at the glamorous side of late 50s New York City, precipitating the look and feel of shows like “Mad Men” and “Pan Am.”  What I have below is the actual episode of the show that the movie was based on, so you can see for yourself where reality differs from the movie.  The most striking thing about watching the actual Van Doren/Stempel contest is what amazing acting these guys did in the phoniest of situations.  They were just regular guys with no entertainment backgrounds asked to put on a show in front of 50 million people.  It’s truly remarkable.  I’m also including the trailer for Quiz Show just to entice you to watch in case you haven’t seen it.

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Apollo 13, Walter Cronkite's Complete CBS Coverage

Posted in NASA, Youtube Favs on August 14th, 2011 by Willie

Most of us have seen Ron Howard’s incredible 1995 movie, Apollo 13.  I remember that my father took me to see it in the theaters, and it was one of the most incredible movies I’d ever witnessed.  Every time the film is on television, I find myself glued to the screen in rapt awe and tension.  The film’s power is rooted in the almost unimaginable reality of the harrowing situation that gripped the world on April 14th, 1970.  This reality was relayed in riveting real time television by legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite.  Regular readers of my blog, and general users of the internet, know how horrible youtube can be, but its worth noting its brilliance as well.  The fact that I can present you the 19 part blow by blow account of Cronkite’s coverage of Apollo 13 is just incredible.  You will simply be totally blown away by this presentation.  The story of Apollo 13 is a mesmerizing event in human history, and everyone involved in ensuring it’s “successful failure” are heroes beyond the telling of it.  Enjoy.  PS, be sure to click the “READ MORE” button (or this sentence) below the 3rd video to see all 19 parts.

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