Monday, August 25, 2008

Tom Sawyer the musical

Click here to see all the pics

Saw the Nashville Dinner Theatre production of Tom Sawyer this weekend. A coworker was in it, so it would have been worth going just for the potential it offered for good-natured teasing (not that he doesn't provide enough of that otherwise...he's a good sport). But it was actually good.

Good cast, though a little uneven on the acting; the variety of accents was a little distracting to my picky ear (broadcasting training will do that to a person). Which is to be expected with this level of theatre (not that I'm an expert), so no complaints there. Some of the younger ones were drama camp "graduates" and I could tell they were having a good time. The songs, by hit writer Don Schlitz ("The Gambler," "Forever & Ever Amen") were most excellent; it's easy to believe he has a ridiculous number of #1 hits. The music was good; never seen the band set up above and behind the stage before. The set, lighting and special effects were impressive.

The sound was unfortunately especially bad, and took away from everything else. People were literally holding their fingers in their ears. Other coworkers said the performance they attended had the same problem. I was in a room full of mostly older folks (the NDT is in a senior center), and kind of envied any who might have hearing aids they could turn down. I assumed the sound guy was one of those former road-warriors whose ears have been assaulted by too many decibels across too many miles, or have spent too much time between headphones, to be able to sense a proper level. He did have a tough job trying to keep up with so many microphones, so I give him credit there; on the other hand, feedback is less a problem when the volume isn't too high. And why does a person choose popular vocal music to play (also too loud) before and after acts? It competed with both the play and any conversations at the tables. Pick some other gig to show off your girlfriend's custom CD, dude; we're trying to talk here.

The dinner itself was pretty good, especially considering the play had been held over past the contract with Shoney's. The service, provided by local youth groups, was good, too. And of course, good company made it all a great evening.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shut yo' mouth (and remove your shoes, please)

One of our esteemed representatives from Tennessee has grabbed the attention of the entertainment columnist at the Tennessean (among others) by a bold suggestion:

During Monday's funeral for Isaac Hayes, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said, "What would you say if you were flying into Memphis and they said you are about to land at Isaac Hayes International Airport?"

First, I'd say Rep. Cohen knows how to work a funeral. Up high, Cohen!

And, upon reflection, naming the airport after the actor/musician/producer sounds like a good idea to me; travelers have been getting the shaft at airports for years!

I can just see the uniforms for security, crimson and gold, with a pillbox hat...bald, bearded, cool shades...I dare any terrorist to disrespect!

Imagine how smooth the voiceover announcements would be...especially with that wheow-wheow guitar groove behind them...awesome (seriously, I love that song).

"Who is the man/That would book a flight for his fellow man..."

"It's a complicated route/And no one understands it but the pilot..."

(Oh, quit whining, Elvis fans, he's had more than his share of honors! At least we still have Graceland).

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SIDE NOTE: The headline on the story is pretty amusing: "Rep. Cohen serious in effort to name airport after Hayes". The suggestion isn't so's the fact that he's serious about it!
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SIDE NOTE 2: I found the caption under the picture of Cohen on his site unintentionally funny as well: "Congressman Steve Cohen speaks in support of H.Res.194, apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans, which he introduced in February 2007." Oh, was HE the one who's responsible? And I could've sworn it happened longer ago than that. Hmmm. Let's be careful with those pronouns, people; a man's reputation is at stake! Talk about revisionist history! HA!
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SIDE NOTE 3: I realize these side notes are actually at the bottom, not on the side, but I can live with the inaccuracy of the label; hope you can too.

What good radio sounds like

On the other hand (see previous post for the original hand), all hope is not lost in radio land. I listen to a station when I'm in Chattanooga called WUUS (no sound-out-the-call-letters nicknames, please) because a) it plays great music (meaning the music I like, mostly from the 70's) and b) it comes in sooner on my way down and lasts longer on my way home to Nashville.

Admittedly, it doesn't have quite the polished sound of the powerhouse stations (I'm pretty sure I heard either tape hiss or record scratch on a Carpenters tune they were playing--must've been taken from someone's personal collection...couldn't afford the 99 cents for a download? Are things really that tight?), but the songs and the local feel of the station make up for that.

To add to the station's list of attractive qualities, I recently found out a friend of mine and a familiar radio voice from his previous gigs, Dale Mitchell (a.k.a. Announcer Boy) is a strong presence on the air at WUUS. AND I can listen to the station via live streaming internet radio with the simple click of a button on the station's website.

Given the struggles of local radio to keep afloat due to competition with TV, digital radio, the iPod, and the internet itself, this station may not have as solid a future as, say, careers in family counseling, but I'm hoping it's around a good long time.

Gee, thanks, Arbitron!

Ever get a phone call from someone you don't know asking you for information to help them in their business, with the sole apparent benefit to you being the chance to offer your opinion...and the vaguest of possible other benefits being an immeasurably small improvement in the entertainment sphere of society? Me, too.

In my case, it was Arbitron, the company that compiles ratings for radio stations so they can justify the rates they charge for advertising. They publish a book of very specific numbers based on sampling surveys--surveys which can yield very shaky estimates at best. But you have to have numbers when you're spending money, and without the money, radio could not exist as we know it. Never mind whether that's a good thing or not.

What I found amusing is that, after about three calls from Arbitron in which they asked me to take part in their survey and I politely declined (just didn't feel like it this time, OK?), they apparently got the message. But in the meantime, they employed another clever persuasive technique--a clever combination of bribery and guilt.

Two dollars. Cash. With a nice note thanking me for my time and assuring me how important my opinion is to radio stations. You know, the stations that stopped taking requests a few years ago, because they'd rather depend on consultants and market research than say, the station employees or the actual people who take the trouble to call or email their feedback?

OK, that's an overstatement of my skepticism toward the good folks at Arbitron. And I'm not just saying that because of the gift.

But two dollars. They probably did the research and found that two dollars is just enough for most people to say "hey, cool, two dollars--maybe I'll give those nice folks a chance and take their poll if they call again--I'd feel guilty otherwise"...but not enough to break the company if that person says "hey, cool, two dollars--suckers!" And of course the "conquer them with kindness" note is intended to clinch the deal.

It's not often you get paid back for the time telemarketers and the like take from you by calling you at home to ask you questions you don't care to answer or make offers in which you have no interest. So I give Arbitron credit for a clever approach. And I wish them better luck with the next person. Suckers.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Keep mom away from the invitations

There's something about seeing her children getting ready to be married that brings out the protective instinct in a mother. Engaged couples beware. Not that MY mother would ever do this...don't you be talkin' 'bout my mama! (Really, don't; it won't go well for you).