Thursday, May 29, 2008

It would be too obvious to say 'I'm so glad we had this time together,' but I'll say it

There were few things I enjoyed as a child more than the beat-up swingset in our back yard. I swang and I swang and I swang. I swang in cold weather, with a jacket on. I swang in warm weather in shorts and flip-flops. Some of my best childhood memories are of swinging in the late summer afternoons, with the shadows growing long, and being surrounded by the sound of the cicadas buzzing in the trees.

There wasn't much that could tear me away from that swingset. But at 6:35 p.m. every weeknight when there wasn't a Braves game on, I had to be in front of the TV.

Carol Burnett was on.

Now, I'm a child of the '80s. Pac-Man. Michael Jackson and Thriller. MTV. All that. But for whatever reason, TBS, for several of my most formative years, decided to air decade-old re-runs of Carol Burnett and Friends at 6:35 p.m. every weeknight when they weren't showing a Braves baseball game. I rarely missed it.

As the Stomach Turns. Tim Conway as the character known in my house as The Little Old Man. Carol Burnett as Miss Wiggins, who couldn't operate the intercom, and Conway as her stressed-out boss. They were as familiar to me as any characters on any of the popular television shows of the mid-1980s, if not more so. They were a fixture in my house. Even my parents, who were busy people and stayed stressed out most of the time, would sometimes watch.

And we weren't the only ones. At school the following day, the kids in my class would be reciting lines or funny scenes from the previous night's re-run. I don't think we really understood that ol' Carol and her crew had been cancelled by CBS some years before. The loud '70s clothing, the wide ties and leisure suits -- well, we weren't really old enough to catch on how out-of-date they were. Carol and company might as well have been still on the air, along with The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider or whatever else 10-year-olds were watching in the mid-'80s.

But I think we understood, or at least I know I did, that Carol Burnett's show was awesome.

I remember when Tim Conway, as the little old white-haired man who always shuffled around, appeared as a dentist trying to treat patient Harvey Korman, only to stick himself with the Novocaine needle and put all his limbs to sleep. I remember laughing at Carol and Harvey Korman doing their version of Max, the baldheaded butler, and Nora Desmond, aging movie star with her overly stretched-out face, years before I ever saw the original film Sunset Boulevard that they were parodying. And this punchline stood on its own in my house: "Stroke! Stroke! I'm having a stroke!" I won't even bother to try to explain it. You had to see it to understand.

But the highlight of any Carol Burnett episode in my house was The Point At Which Tim Conway Would Make Harvey Korman Crack Up. It was never a question of whether Harvey would lose it. It was a question of when he would lose it. If Tim Conway were on that night, it was coming. You just had to wait for it.

Today, out in California, Harvey Korman died. He was 81. He was awesome, and I just wanted to write this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Charts, anyone?

In response to the recent blog post by my friend DJ Ron, graphically interpreting some popular songs, here are some more, leaning heavily toward the country side, thanks to GraphJam.com:

funny graphs
more graph humor and song chart memes

Note: This next one should rightly say "Things you can do to Carl Perkins."

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

funny graphs
more graph humor and song chart memes

funny graphs
more graph humor and song chart memes

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The morning after the Forum Banquet

Thank you to all who followed my spur-of-the-moment live blogging from the Forum Banquet. I apologize that none of the audio I tried to post last night worked. I do have audio of one speaker at the mic, though it's not really high quality (recorded it via my Palm Pilot), but I'll try to get it uploaded today as soon as I figure out how. And I should have turned off the comment-moderation feature. Sorry about that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Yup, it's over. With any luck, here's a sound file of the great old Robbie Burns song being sung by us, the attendees.

UPDATE, SATURDAY MORNING: Well, I blew it on this one. Not only did I not get the audio uploaded remotely from the banquet, but the audio didn't even save on my Palm. So I don't have this to post. I hate that like heck, because singing Auld Lang Syne is such a tradition at the Forum Banquet. I'll try again next year.

Winding down

The open-mic period continues but the lines at the mic are getting shorter. A speaker just got up and said he thought many of the attendees were guilty of sedition and reiterated his desire to meet another letter-writer on the battlefield and put a bullet between his eyes. Now there's something you don't often hear at a celebration of free speech.

Some audio from Mr. Foster Shockley

fostershockley attached

UPDATE, SATURDAY MORNING: Oops. Both of my attempts to post audio to the blog from my Palm Pilot at the banquet failed, including this clip I was trying to post of Mr. Shockley speaking during his open-mic minute. The good news is, I can see the clip did get saved on my Palm. So I'll tinker with it and try to upload it later today.

'Can we not see eye to eye?'

Picture is of reporter Jaime Sarrio fulfilling the time-honored tradition of covering the Forum Banquet.
UPDATE: I should point out that the speaker whom Jaime is interviewing in this picture is frequent letter-writer and previous Forum Banquet honoree Phil Michal Thomas.

The open mic period is begun

We've had 4 speakers so far, and 3 of them got bell-runged by Liz Sharer for going over. This may be a record.

Mayor Dean speaks

Mayor Karl Dean is delivering the keynote speech.



Dessert was called "Chocolate Confusion." It was very good.

Dinner is underway

I'm honored to have sitting at my table Mr. Andy Brown, who sat with me last year -- this is his 11th banquet -- and Mr. Foster Shockley, who is at his 24th or 25th banquet.

Live from the Forum Banquet

Live from the Maxwell House ...

Thursday, May 8, 2008