Random thoughts from a retiree: Show Biz Edition

By Jack Sparacino
What’s not to like about the best of show business, especially when so much of the national and world news is so discouraging and stress in everyday life never goes away? We grow up looking forward to entertainment breaks in our schedules.  Some people dive into school plays, bands, chorus, and so forth. We read the entertainment pages, watch TV, go to the movies, compare notes with our friends and come to our own conclusions.  Like these.
1. How in the WORLD actors can memorize so many lines? I can barely memorize a website or where my sneakers went.
2. The law of averages has hammered TV. With hundreds of cable channels there are so many more shows today, from really horrible to absolutely great.  This may be progress, but it sure can be work to sort them out.  I guess there’s an app for that someplace.
2a.  If you haven’t watched the TV legal drama on USA network, “Suits,” you might give it a try.  Recently renewed for a second season, it’s my favorite show these days, partly because it makes Lowcountry life seem even more relaxed.  Maybe don’t watch it — or “The Good Wife,” another terrific show — while you’re drinking coffee.
3. We just saw the movie “Paper Moon” for the first time since it came out some 40 years ago.  It was filmed beautifully in black and white and it’s hard to imagine it being any better in color.  Maybe there are film makers out there now who could make more good movies in black and white.  Possibly some of these could make it to the wonderful Film Festival here.
4. Lots of film stars from the black and white silent picture era look creepy and weird to me, and color may have made it even worse.  Makes me wonder what in the world their hair and makeup people were thinking.  Or consuming on their lunch breaks.
5. Isn’t it interesting how most people with beautiful singing voices sound “normal,” just like the rest of us, when they’re talking?
6. As much as I love fishing, TV shows about it don’t usually grab me.  Could this be a bad case of sour grapes when someone else hooked a really big one?
7. The world has seen thousands of movie actresses over the years and some of them were truly amazing.  Then you have Meryl Streep, who has long since jumped off the charts.
8. There may be no escaping it.  The greatest rock and roll band in the history of the universe is The Rolling Stones. The data on their record sales, top hits, concert revenues and their incredible longevity seem to bear that out.
9. Anyone who can stand up in front of thousands of people at a sporting event and sing the national anthem well deserves some sort of prize.  And a free ticket to the game.  And a hot dog.  The works.
10. Whatever happened to those kooky novelty acts, often featured on variety shows? Balloon twisting.  Spinning pie plates.  Playing the kazoo.  Yo-yo tricks. Singing under water.  Fortunately, we still have some pretty good ventriloquists around.
10a. Yodeling. Probably an acquired taste.
11. How did competitive eating get popular in the U.S. when so many children go to bed hungry? I like hot dogs, too, but how can eating 50 of them in ten minutes be a good thing?
12.  Apparently, freak shows went the way of horse drawn plows and the village blacksmith. This is just as well, though I have nothing against plows, blacksmiths, or P.T. Barnum, for that matter.
13. Still trying to get my head completely around ballet. I get the athleticism, the grace, and the lovely classical music.  Even the outfits. It’s the total experience that I don’t quite get.  And by the way, don’t the dancers’ feet hurt a lot of the time and maybe even get wrecked from all that pointy toed jumping around?  I’ve been advised that running or steel toed shoes may not be the best solution.
14. Isn’t it amazing how many phenomenal rock and blues guitarists we’ve seen over the past 40 years?  Hendrix.  Clapton.  King.  Page.  Guy.  Allman.  Vaughn.  Beck.  Dozens more.  Ever wonder what people in the 1920’s would have thought about them if one or two had been time traveled back to a talent contest and competed? Probably plenty of heads would have gone kablooey, but some in a good, visionary way.
15.  I had great fun playing saxophone in our high school stage band and still get goosebumps when I hear a really terrific big band today.  If it’s been a while for you, try listening to Maynard Ferguson’s version of Duke Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone” (Live In London CD).  It’s fun to try to imagine how composers and arrangers get all those notes, chords and different instruments to come together so perfectly.  And tell me computers will never be able to do this as well as people.  Please.
16.  Fortunately, we’re still treated to young performers with huge singing voices who keep coming along.  Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga and Il Volo come to mind, for instance.
17. Whatever happened to the tidal wave of great comedy teams? Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis, Abbot and Costello, Burns and Allen, The Smothers Brothers, Rowen and Martin, Tom and Jerry, Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner, and lots more from vaudeville, the movies, radio and TV.  Did audiences lose interest somehow or did it just get too difficult to get the comedy act together and rehearsed in the first place?  I assume two people can still be funnier than one.  At four (five if we count Gummo) we got the Marx Brothers.
18. I like movies and baseball.  But if you’re trying to look like a ballplayer in a movie, how about having played baseball in the past? I cringed when I saw two well known actors portraying Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, of all people.  (Now Kevin Costner as a ballplayer, that’s a much better story.)
19. There sure are lots of fascinating competitive cooking shows on TV.  I wonder how many viewers try new recipes at home based on what they see and how they turn out.  Is anyone keeping track of this and could we see the results sometime?
20.  What does it say about a person if they sometimes like watching infomercials about kitchen knives and chopping gadgets?  Nothing bad, I hope.
OK, enough show biz for now.  Back to the news, I guess.  Ouch.

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