Wednesday, September 30, 2009

View From the Phlipside - Men of a Certain Age

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

I approach this time of year, at least this year I do, with a certain amount of trepidation. You see it was just last year this time, while this program was still new and young and full of promise that I took a shot at picking the winners and losers for the new TV season. There's really only one of those predictions that I even remember. It was for the new show "The Mentalist" which I scorned as a rip off of the cable network hit "Psych". Would you care to guess what turned out to be one of the biggest hits among last falls new programs? Yeah, "The Mentalist". So this year I'm a little gun shy. First let me note that I haven't seen a lot of promos for new shows that are pulling me out of my seat as it were.

At least not on the regular networks. TNT has something that I'm just going to have to watch. It's called "Men of a Certain Age". And this one pulled me right up out of my seat.

Yes it's a story about guys roughly my age. I can tell you right now I hope this show becomes my new "30-Something". Yes, I know all the jokes about that late '80's hit TV show on ABC. It could be whiny and self indulgent and egocentric. Just like a lot of us were at that time, including me. It showed us our dark side and reminded us that it didn't mean we were bad people. Unless you were Miles Drentell. It only ran four seasons but racked up 18 Emmy wins plus almost 30 more nominations.

Men of a Certain Age should be so good. TNT is bringing together a cast that appeals to me right off the bat - Ray Romano as a divorced father of two with some unfulfilled dreams, Andre Braugher is the son working in the family business and Scott Bakula gives us a little dash of Peter Pan syndrome as an aging actor. That's a really solid cast of some pretty fair actors.

Based on the promos it looks like it's about life with your friends, the people who've known you through good times and bad. Middle age is a tough time because for some it's realizing that your dreams are going to always be that, for others it's realizing that your best years are visible only in the rear view mirror. It really feels like this could be a great new series.

Let's hope my endorsement isn't the kiss of death.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A lesson for the ladies about the guys (and vice versa)

Yes, ladies this is exactly what goes through a lot of guys heads and why many of never seem to get around to saying something. You see for a lot of us you, the female of the species, are a strange and wonderful mystery. We definitely like you and would like to get to know you better but we're also a little intimidated. Jokes aside the teen aged boys ego can be a fragile thing. Being rejected by someone we want to impress can be devastating. So better safe than sorry.

Guys, yes, very often this is what is going on inside the girls heads. They would really like it if we would just say hi, make a little safe conversation. Doesn't have to be profound and you might want to go easy on the stuff you're really "into". It can get a bit scary if we go all fanboy/nerd right off the start, especially if it's not something they know anything about.

So guys, relax and take the tiny little risk. Trust me, with my many years of scars to prove it, you'll survive. Ladies, keep in mind that what you say can really hurt. If you don't want to talk find some way to say it that let's the guy escape with a little dignity.

Cartoon is courtesy of the folks at xkcd - "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language" which I read regularly and really enjoy.

Children and the Church

From the blog "Real Live Preacher" which I have mentioned before. Gordon writes the following at the end of an amazing post and it just blew me away. Yes, I believe this is some fundamental truth. Too often we give lip service to it without realizing what fully living into it means:

Your church might meet in a cathedral that stuns the world with its beauty, but if children do not feel loved there, it is worth nothing. And your church might have 5000 members and its own television show, but if children don’t want to be there, it comes to nothing. Your church might be generous and give all of its money to feed the poor, but if you are not gentle and generous with the children on your own doorstep, it means nothing.

The challenge of meeting this standard is a stiff one. It means actually accepting our children as brothers and sisters in Christ. It means actually thinking about their needs, gifts and limitations. It means CHANGING some of what we do and/or how we do it on Sunday and other days. It means ending the divide between "real/big/main" church and youth ministry. It means extra noise and a bit more chaos during the service. It means explaining stuff some of us already know. I could go on and on but Gordon has distilled it pretty well.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Resource Review - Help - I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker!

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)

OVERALL - Help - I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker by Steven L. Case, 136 pages, 2009 Zondervan - Steven Case is probably best known as the author of the Book of UnCommon Prayer which he acknowledges was inspired by our own BCP. This is a resource for both new and long time youth workers.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? There's a movie where the catch phrase is "You had me at hello". For me Case had me at "pee in your Fruit Loops". Sorry I know that's vulgar and gross but it told me that this was written by somebody who knows how it goes. Imagine my further surprise to discover that like me Case began in broadcasting and landed in youth ministry! From his own experience he tells it like it is about life as a leader in youth ministry. From how to deal with difficult people to stress to feeling like maybe you're getting too old and so much more. I found myself nodding constantly as I read, thinking "Oh yeah", "Got that right" and "Been there, done that". Case is an easy read but with lots of experience behind every word.

RESERVATIONS Not too many really. This book is really aimed at those of us getting paid to do ministry so not all of it is an exact fit for you if you're a volunteer. But the vast majority still hits home. I think some folks will have a little trouble in Chapter 7 which is about change and (very lightly) postmodern theology. Approach it with an open mind, then make up your own. I found the chapter very interesting (but then I would, wouldn't I?)

RECOMMENDATION OK, it's another addition to "Must Have in the Library" list. A quick read that's fun to read, will challenge you, encourage you and even help you figure out if it's time to quit. All for under $12. Yeah, you need to read this one and own a copy. This is the kind of book you're going to want to share for the times when our brothers and sisters in this ministry need just these kinds of words.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

At the Movies - "RV"

RV - starring Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Chenoweth.

Ok, so this is not the worst movie I've ever seen. In fact it's not even in the running for the bottom 10 worst movies of my life.

But it's not good.

I have a weakness for Robin Williams. I think he's brilliant and a pretty fair straight actor (as great comics often are). But clearly he has the WORST sense for a script of anyone I've ever watched. I have seen him in more lame, second rate movies than just about anyone else. I'll exclude Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell because they're TRYING to create lame, second rate movies and are darned successful at it. I just keep hoping to discover that little bit of magic that Williams finds every once in a while. Every once in a LOOOOOOONG while.

I will admit that there are some solid laughs in this movie. Maybe 10. Maybe 12. Or maybe only 8. There's not many and they are few and far between. Seems like there's not a lot of time for laughs because they have to jam in about a thousand really lame sight gags, and a tiny little bit of story line.

Characters? Cardboard.
Story/plot? Please.
Tempo/pacing? I've seen dead people move faster.

It's really too bad. This is a solid cast and a decent idea. Sadly they got handed over to a writer with no clue and a director with a hit or miss track record. Take away the Men in Black movies and "Get Shorty" and Barry Sonenfeld gets to rest on the laurels of "The Wild Wild West", plus two Addams Family movies. Neither of which I liked. The first one was a hit at the box office, the second one not so much. Neither is ever going to make the top 200 movies of all time list. The rest of his career as a director is TV, entirely non-hit stuff.

So was it a waste of my life? No, really not a terrible way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. And that's what you should be waiting for before you see this movie. A rainy, Saturday afternoon. When you have absolutely NOTHING better to do with your life.


Friday, September 25, 2009

A View From the Phlipside #3

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Color me still undecided about this whole Twitter thing. Yes I have a Twitter account for this program (@radiophlipside) although I'm very spotty about posting there. It begins to strike me more and more as the all the worst about blogging. Tiny little nuggets of self involved trivia that just don't offer much chance for anything deep or profound. My own Twitter experiment is still undecided at the moment.

But without even having seen it I'd like to say I'm completely against Fox TV's concept of the "tweet-peet". Earlier this month when the series "Glee" and "Fringe" debuted for the season the network had members of the cast answering questions from viewers that scrolled across the screen during the show. What a wonderful endorsement for how little attention is required to follow the story line of your show. You don't even have to be half paying attention it appears. I remember that TRL on MTV used to do something similar to the is on a creeper across the bottom of the screen. If memory serves most of the comments were either idiotic or sophomoric. So hardly a sterling precedent. My fear is that what if people really like chatting back and forth on my TV screen while I'm trying to watch the show?

Well the good news is that I may not have to worry about it. The early reviews are in and the general reaction seems to be negative. First of all the questions and answers didn't stay conveniently out of the way, way down at the bottom. In fact they took up a fair bit of space and interfered with watching the show. What's worse is that after hyping the new feature on all the major social media the first quarter hour didn't have anything in it all, just normal TV. So you start off by really annoying your viewers by promising something, then holding out. Then the cast decided to spend the first couple minutes saying hello to their family and friends rather than tweeting with the fans and answering questions. Do you see where we're headed with this? Add in the big, irritating display plus answers would appear without any relation to the original question so it got confusing pretty quickly.

How badly did the fans of Glee take it (Oh by the way your new world vocabulary word for the day - Gleek. That's the network's word for fans of the show. You like Glee? You're a gleek. Lovely)? Let me put it to you this way - one poster on a fan web site compared the tweet-peat to one of the most despised characters of the modern communications world - Microsoft Word's annoying little mascot Clippy.

Look's like we might all be spared this latest catastrophe.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Pretty Good Year

Someone said that to me the other day. "Jay, you've had a pretty good year". My first reaction was to disagree. It's been a year, some good, some bad. If I really think about it though it has been a pretty good year.

At the start of the year my weight was better but not good enough. And my blood tests reflected that. In just 6 months or so I'd drop another 15+ pounds and put my blood tests back into the normal range.

It's been a great year for my bicycling. Very early on with only a couple rides under my belt I pedalled up a long steep hill (6 miles long with 800 foot rise) that I'd hoped I'd be able to conquer "eventually". Instead it was done at the very start. I've cycled either to or from work (about 21 miles) several times this summer and one day biked both to AND from the office. So that means I've been the whole way around the lake twice this summer, another personal best. I've even improved my time going to work over the course of the summer. Lance Armstrong has nothing to fear from me but suddenly a 20 mile ride is no longer some huge challenge. And less than that almost doesn't seem worth doing some days! Too easy. Bizarre.

I checked something off my "Bucket List" (the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket") by getting the chance to act with the kid, my daughter. It was great. And she out performed me! Now I want to do it again and give her a challenge. It felt good to act again and it was just SO cool to be on stage with this amazing young woman.

I got the chance to spend some quality time with my daughter in Pittsburgh, a city we both love. We spent some great time with some of my dad's side of the family and just explored. In fact there were several times this summer that we had some fun as a family. Some of it was just dinner time on the back deck, laughing and teasing. There was the wine festival where the kid got a bit tipsy. Yeah, that part was good.

Any year that has a CREDO week in it has to be a good year. I made some amazing friends and they helped me discover some important things about myself. The path that is still ahead of me has a lot of challenges still but it feels great to be walking that way.

There was the great mini-vacation that my lady wife and I took to explore the wineries of the Niagara Escarpment. The time together was wonderful, we found a number of wines we liked and a couple we like a lot. I'll remember that trip for a long time.

And then I remind myself.....

There's still a quarter of the year to go! So this year can still get better. And better. And who knows, maybe even better still.


A View From the Phlipside #2

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

I like to pick on bad commercials so in the spirit of being fair I'll point out one that I think does a really nice job. There's a new AT&T commercial out there that really grabbed me the first time I saw it. For transparency's sake I will note that I am an AT&T subscriber. I will also note that they don't make me happy enough to want to do any sucking up to them here. The spot is just good.

It's the lost puppy spot. If you haven't seen it a little girl is mournfully stapling posters to phone poles (someone needs to tell this child I'm pretty sure that's illegal). A young man sees here and sends out a text to his friends with a photo of the flyer. They send it to all their friends, and soon the dog is found and reunited with its happy owner. Smiles all 'round and a big ole AWWWWWWWW ending.

What makes me really like this commercial has nothing to do with cute little girls or puppy dogs. AT&T shows exactly what the concept of social media is all about. They don't waste time touting phones with all the latest gadgets, they don't try and explain how some new phone plan that is completely incomprehensible to any reasonably intelligent person is actually a good idea. They show how a simple thing like a text message and photo on your cell phone can bring people together. Ever wonder what the term "going viral" means in modern techno talk? Watch the spot and see on a modest scale exactly what going viral is all about. The reality is that most of us just want our cell phones to work, we want them to help us communicate and help us connect with other people who matter to us. Lots of other cellular service ads have tried the same thing. Sprint had a series of commercials that included things like "What If Firefighters Ran The World?". They were fun but didn't connect at the simple, every day, real life kind of level that this AT&T does. This if the kind of situation all of us can imagine seeing ourselves in. It shows the medium being used in a way that brings the user out into the world and involves them with their fellow human beings. Directly opposed to a common view of what electronic communications does. Too often the companies try and get too clever, or too complex with what turns out to be a very simple concept.

Sometimes it really is just about using your phone to re-unite a little girl and her puppy. Go ahead, you know you want to...AWWWWWWWWWW.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A View From the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

So let's take a minute to consider the fine art of the public apology. In this day and age doing right means using the media properly. What amazes me is the number of high profile people who presumably have people to advise them on the subject who still get it wrong.

Our first case is South Caroline Congressman Joe Wilson. Wilson of course interrupted the President's speech before the joint houses of Congress. That's really bad form in so many ways. I have to give Wilson credit for heading in the right direction right off the bat. Calling to apologize to the White House was the right thing to do. Unfortunately he then began to back slide by tap dancing and hedging on his apology in the next several days. That's bad because it just makes you look insincere and wishy washy. You should apologize immediately and to everyone (another slip for the Congress man in my opinion), then shut up for a day or so before coming back out to hit your talking points. We all know he's going back to them and that's fine. It's all about flow and timing.

At the other end we have Tennis star Serena Williams. Serena went ballistic over an officials call at the US Open Tennis Tourney. Really over the top stuff, clearly public apology time. Serena did it backwards from the Congressman. Her early attempts were awful and amounted to a little child's apology "I'm sorry the official was such a doody brains". She finally arrived at the right point, made a good confession and added a nice light touch by saying she'd like to give the official a big hug. Just a note here - that kind of line is great if you're a woman, it's a total non starter for a man.

The art of the public apology is really simple which is why I'm astounded it gets done so poorly, so often. Find the media, stand up straight, look the audience straight in the eye, accept responsibility and apologize. Don't explain, don't try and drag other things in, just apologize to everyone right off the bat. Then show you're repentant by dropping off the radar for about two days. Then pop back up explaining that you've learned from this experience and move on. Easy.

If you're waiting for a Kanye West reference here I don't have much to work with on that subject. A public apology can only overcome so much. For example it can not help you at all if you insist on being an idiot.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Monday, September 21, 2009

Resource Review - Sacred Space

(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)

OVERALL - Sacred Space - More faith and worship oriented resources. Sacred Space is a work of the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus. It originated in the offices of the Jesuit Communication Centre in Ireland in 1999. Being a ministry of the Irish Jesuits, it is inspired by the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Ignatian spirituality)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? How about 10 minutes out of your day for some peace and quiet? How about 10 minutes out of your day to spend with God? Sacred Space will walk you through a short Scripture reading and offer questions and ideas to think and pray about. A great quiet break for in a day. They even offer a stripped down version for use on mobile devices.

RESERVATIONS Great quality stuff (it is the Jesuits after all) but again very little interactivity, pretty straight forward stuff. I can't help thinking that a little music might be an improvement.

RECOMMENDATION A great place for someone looking for quiet time, or for someone who is more comfortable looking to go a little deeper.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rockin' some Rocky music!

So shoot me - I like kids, this song and yes at least some of the Rocky movies (I, II and the last one at least). PS22 is an elementary school somewhere around the Big Apple apparently. Maybe Staten Island? If I'm wrong some native New Yorker will no doubt correct me while implying that I must be some kind of idiot for not knowing that. I love my brothers and sisters of "The City" but you really need to grasp the concept that most of the rest of the country doesn't really care that much about "The City". With all due love and respect. (Great now I've ticked off an entire major metropolitan area and I have to travel there in a month. LOL)

View From the Phlipside

One of the shows fans (Dude, I have fans! So excited) asked if we could spread the scripts out over several days for longer enjoyment. So I figured we could try. One Wednesday, one Thursday and one on Friday.

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

So the word is that the big day is coming at the end of October. Needless to say the marketing geniuses have been working overtime to come up with some new way of kicking the latest version off, something that's going to give a whole new feel to match this new way of doing things.

So Microsoft stole an idea from Tupperware.

That's all I could think when I heard that Microsoft was inviting people to host their very own party for the launch of Windows 7, the new and much ballyhooed operating system. You go online and apply to be an official host for a party and they give you, among other things, a free copy of the new operating system.

So I thought - What the heck? The experience was... interesting. Right off the back I felt a little hypocritical. You see they ask you these questions up front, one of which is about was I ready to share a product I love with my friends. That I love? I use Windows, I'm comfortable with Windows but love...? In the name of journalistic inquiry I swallowed my scruples and said, "Sure". I tried to sign in using my Facebook identity but that failed (it seems to fail more often than succeed in my experience) so I filled in all the info manually. Then the next hurdle - am I compatible? Suddenly this felt like I was on Match dot com. Also I was a little concerned to discover that the upgrade advisor software was somehow only a beta version. You can't get a final version of this but I'm supposed to trust you've got the vastly more complex operating system software right. Sure. After waiting a VERY long time (just a few minutes my ear) I was told that my hard drive was rather too small, my graphics card left plenty to be desired, my ethernet card had to go, they didn't much like my productivity suite and that the best I could hope for was to do a custom install then fix it later on. I soldiered on anyway. I was zipping through the user agreement when I caught the word DEATH so I went back. Seems if I host a party and invite you and you die we can't sue Microsoft. Hmmmm, what have they added to this software?

So I'm not holding out a lot of hope of being selected to be a host. But if I am I'll be looking for about a dozen guests so keep the week of October 22-29 open. And if YOU happen to get tapped to be a host, keep me in mind.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, September 17, 2009

View From the Phlipside

One of the shows fans (Dude, I have fans! So excited) asked if we could spread the scripts out over several days for longer enjoyment. So I figured we could try. One Wednesday, one Thursda and one on Friday.

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Have you ever seen a Redbox? Not Redbook but Redbox the little DVD rental kiosks. There are several of them at least in our area. Now as an owner of a private movie collection that numbers up around a 100 titles and a Netflix subscriber I don't pay them much attention. Till I discovered that some of the big movie studios have got their panties in a twist over them. A quick background - Redbox is exactly that a big red box with a selection of movie DVDs inside that you can rent for a dollar a day. You pay with your credit card and you can drop your movie off at any Redbox. Very simple.

And the movie studios are just hopping mad. They don't like their movies being rented for so little, a number of them have relationsips with video stores and they see this as competition (Redbox has 19% of the market right now, video stores have 45%). They say Redbox is to the movie industry what the internet was to the music industry. Needless to say they may be right and promptly miss the point. The music industry is in the final stages of losing their initial battle with the internet. A whole new way of doing business is rising out of the ashes. Somehow the movie moguls figure they can win.

I've got news for them. They can't.

Lower prices for the same product is going to win. Every time. The movie studios are currently fighting back by making sure that Redbox doesn't get new releases till the stores have had them for 28 days. My solution is simpler. If you can't beat them, join them. Suppose you walk into a store and are confronted by two kiosks. One says Redbox, other says Blockbuster Box (or whatever). Same products, competitive prices. Who you gonna trust, especially with a credit card number. If video stores are on the way out then at least you get your foot into the future of the industry. If not then at least you've got all the bases covered. In reality you have to wonder if the Redbox concept will really cover everyone's needs. Other than the impulse DVD renter and the extreme low budget renter you still get more choice at a store, you get more copies of your choices at a store and you usually get a fairly informed staff to help out.

You have to wonder however how long the media king pins are going to keep believing they can stop the tide.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

R.I.P. Mary Travers

I grew up in a household that played a lot of folk music. In fact while ours was not a family that played a lot of music (till "The Boys" became teens and started playing "our" music) I don't remember much of any other kind of music being played. So being a child of the 60's I heard a lot of Peter, Paul and Mary.

And that was just fine with me.

Mary Travers is the reason why I have a little bit of a "thing" for girls with bangs and long blonde hair (that and the very cool friend of my parents who reminded me of Mary Travers. Always had a bit of little boy's crush on her too).

I love the optimism of the music. I love the energy. I love the intelligence and the questions that the music lifts up. I'm struggling along trying to learn to play guitar for one reason and one reason alone, so I can play folk music.

And Mary Travers stands at the center of all of that. I loved the sound of Peter, Paul and Mary. The music helped to form my concepts of social justice, peace and freedom. Call me an aging hippie if you like (you'd be wrong, I was too young to be a hippie and my parents raised me to be far too "straight") but I believe the political discourse of today could stand some of those sentiments. Let me also say that I accept that some of the lack of civility in today's discourse also stems from that time. However American political discourse has ALWAYS been loud and rude. At the moment I'm far more concerned about the lack of optimism that the lack of civility.

It seems like I've wandered from my paean to Mary Travers but I think not. My bet is that she'd be pleased that even in death she inspired someone to care, to speak out and dream. She did all of those things for me.

Mary Travers, born in Kentucky to journalists and trade unionists, who left school in the 11th grade to follow her dream of singing, who sang back up for Pete Seeger (another musical hero), and made up one third of the most popular folk group of the 1960's, died from complications related to the chemotherapy she was receiving for leukemia. She was 72.

And I still have a bit of that school boy crush. Here's one of my favorites:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

View From the Phlipside

One of the shows fans (Dude, I have fans! So excited) asked if we could spread the scripts out over several days for longer enjoyment. So I figured we could try. One today, one tomorrow and one on Friday.

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

The great new experiment that is the new Jay Leno show begins this week. I've registered here before my reservations about this show. NBC is turning over five hours a week of prime TV real estate to the former Tonight Show host in the hopes that he can generate 46 weeks worth of comedy each year. Of course they've also eliminated the slots for five TV series that would create roles for actors that they could interview on the show. On the whole it's a gamble plugging in the same show, over and over, night after night, week after week. I mean who does that?

Funny you should mention that. Someone recently pointed out that LOTS of folks have been doing that for a while now. With some remarkable success. Call it the cable TV effect. I mean check, as an example, USA network. For three hours every week day in the early evening they play re-runs of NCIS. How do I know? Well, um, because I watch several hours of it. In fact I'd never seen an episode of NCIS until we discovered it on USA. Lots of stations do that. It's become a major part of the business for cable TV.

The question is will it work during a prime time hour? It appears that financially it almost has to work. A week of Leno's new program is said to cost as much as a single night of a prime time drama. So your production costs drop by about 80%. You have the recognition factor of Jay Leno's name and his immense likability. The guy was incredibly successful doing late night TV. Of course not all of us are into late night TV. So is there really this great pent up demand for classic late night TV programming in prime time? There could be. You see this isn't the first time something like this has been tried.

In 1962 NBC, in fear that they would lose the big star host of the Tonight Show after he stepped down, offered Jack Paar his own prime time program and carte blanche to do anything he wanted. Unlike Leno Paar was only on one night a week. Leno like Paar is doing a variation on his original show. The Jack Paar show had the honor of offering the Beatles their first prime time American TV exposure (yes, BEFORE the Sullivan show).

The Jack Paar show lasted three years. That's the bar Jay Leno can be aiming for.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oh the things that I do

Wow, haven't posted much here other than "bizness" so a catch up post:

Did the Loop the Lake ride on my bike. Takes you the whole way around Lake Chautauqua which is about 42 miles. I did it in a new personal best of 3 hours 24 minutes and 50 seconds (riding time, total elapsed time was 3:50). The ride was fine except for about five miles of steady light rain that just drenched me. If I'd ridden slower I'd have missed it completely. Felt very good to get it done in such good shape. No major physical problems on the ride or the day after. My new water back pack has been a real boon to avoiding cramping.

Haven't been watching many movies but I am going back through the episodes of "WKRP in Cincinnati". I remember most of them but I'd really overlooked what great performances were turned in by some of the cast. Naturally I've fallen completely in love with Bailey Quarters (again). And yes add me to the list of folks who worked in the industry who will tell you that yes, it really was like that. Great stuff.

Been thinking about what a really solid year it's been for me personally. The weight loss, the improved blood test results, the major step up in bike riding and overall fitness(including a 40+ mile ride, a 50 mile ride and taking on the longest hill in the area 800+ foot rise in 6 miles), working on my guitar playing. I performed with my daughter for the first time in our lives doing a short drama for church (that was very well received (and looking at the video she out performed me too!) Still ahead is the challenge of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. The kid believes her father might just have some small talent for writing (she's the family expert so I shan't argue). But her papi is a lazy butt so she has cornered me into agreeing to taking on the challenge of writing 50,000 words of a novel length story in 30 days. She's actually done the challenge several times and met the goal just this past year. So this is a kind of put up or shut up time for yours truly. I need to start doing some prep work here soon (but no writing yet! That has to be done in November. But I can do character sketches, outline the story, etc in advance) A few years ago I never would have tried, it was just "something I'll never be able to pull off". This year has proven that what I CAN do and what I THINK I CAN DO can be two very different things.

My lady wife and I are doing something radical as well. We're having friends over for dinner. In fact the plan is have a whole bunch of folks over for dinner over the next year. We've always wanted to and never done it. So we've decided it's time to stop being such social hermits. It should be fun. We have some great friends.

Otherwise it's just been life, one day at a time. Time to start wrapping up summer, finishing the chores around the yard, make sure the snow blower is ready to go (SIGH!).

And hope that next year is this good.


Resource Review - Youth Culture 101

OVERALL - Youth Culture 101 by Walt Mueller, 480 pages, 2007 Zondervan - This has been sitting on my shelf for a while and I keep meaning to review it. An overview of the world our young people are growing up in from the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding founder and president Walt Mueller.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The book takes an in-depth look at the major influences on the lives of our youth. It takes a long look at the media and marketing but also offers a way to help our kids become more discerning about the media in their lives. There are also chapters on Peer Pressure, Sex, Materialism, Substance Abuse, Depression and Suicide plus a chapter just for parents. In addition there's a web page that offers supplemental resources and information (Here) This is the resource for when you're ready to dig a little deeper in the whys and hows plus get some good ideas about how to react to it.

RESERVATIONS In less than two years some of the sections on media and how youth use it are getting out of date already. That's hardly surprising. I think the overall concepts still hold water. Needless to say everyone will not agree on everything Walt says in the Sex section. Again the basic underlying concepts are solid that we need to help out kids find a much healthier approach to sex than the one their being peddled in the media. Other than that the sheer bulk of the book will intimidate some.

RECOMMENDATION Again when you're ready for a deeper look into youth culture this is a great place to start. Mueller's writing style is an easy read while still covering the material more than competently. This is a solid resource on what is admittedly a moving target. Not a bad idea to have sitting on your shelf.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Redux

(I posted this originally in 2007. In the intervening years we've lost Lee as well. So this year it becomes a tribute to the 9/11 victims and my friend)

I saw that my buddy Lee had done a Sept. 11 post

So I thought I'd put a link to the my post about 9/11 from back when I commented on it.

I never have. That surprised me as I looked back over the last 4 years of posts. Of all the things I've talked about I've never written about that day.

I remember it clearly. There was a staff meeting that day so I'd driven up to Buffalo (an hour and a half drive)for the 9 AM meeting. In fact I had turned off the radio just a few minutes after the first plane hit at 8:46 AM. We had just gotten settled into the meeting with the sliding doors closed when there came a banging. Two members of the office staff came in, one in tears. The only TV in the building was with us and they needed to check the news. Something had happened at the twin towers in NYC and they had a friend who worked there. So we turned on the TV...

You know what we saw. And you know how we felt. It is a shared moment for our nation. I remember thinking in those first few moments "It's not an accident, it's a terrorist attack". For several years after college I'd been fascinated by terrorism and how we respond to it. What I saw and what little we knew at that time just screamed terrorism.

And then the second plane(9:03AM)

and the report that a plane has crashed into the Pentagon (9:37AM)

and the FAA grounds all planes (9:45AM)

and then the south tower collapsed(9:59AM)

and then another plane crashes in western Pennsylvania (10:03AM)

and then the north tower collapsed (10:28AM)

Sometime shortly after that we were sent home. We prayed for everything and everyone and Divine protection and went home in a state of shock.

The diocesan offices are not too far from the airport so you see a fair number of planes if you look. I remember driving home thinking that there had never been a day in my life like this one. When virtually NOTHING man made was in the air above me. It is one of the strangest and most enduring feelings from that day.

When I saw the photo Lee was using I knew I was going to steal it. We need to remember how horrible that day was. We must never forget. But not as just as a goad to our fear and self interest. We must remember as a call to all that is good in our nature. It must serve as a call to make the world a better place rather than only a safer place. A better place WILL BE a safer place. A safer place is not always a better place.

Today is a day to remember.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sid the Kid doing it right

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby delivers season tickets and the Cup to a lady to who told him the Pens would win. Great video. Love her accent, it says home to me.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Resource Review - Daily Office from St. Clare's Mission

OVERALL - Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare - Thought it was time to add some more faith and worship oriented resources. Mission of St. Clare offers a chance to pray the Daily Office plus has resources for Compline, Noonday plus the Prayers for Individuals and Families.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Just as described. If you're looking for a place for you or your youth to worship online this is a great resource. Music is included in the service when appropriate and can be played from your computer. It includes the appropriate readings for the day so you don't have to go looking for them. Everything you need all in one place.

RESERVATIONS This is very traditional Episcopal worship and so is the music. This will work for some adults (and surprisingly to some of us, for some youth as well) but not for everyone. It IS one of the most comprehensive personal, Episcopal worship sites but it's not very interactive or contemporary.

RECOMMENDATION For someone looking for straight ahead BCP worship this place is great.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The View From the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

In the last couple weeks I've talked about the end of the world and really bad ideas for movies. How little I knew. Those stories that came before are the merest pimple on the complexion of reality. The apocalypse? Oh please in comparison to what I'm about to relate all those stories are more on the level of catching your grandmother in her birthday suit. Sure your eyes burn for a while but eventually the dreams will stop and all will be well.

Not like this. I warn you, what I'm about to reveal to you is going to hurt. It's ugly and horrible in the manner of all the great horror films and stories. You have been warned. Now I want you to think about combining the following words into a single gestalt. 3D. Musical. Disneyfication. And now the final horrible piece to this puzzle. Hamlet. Yes, as in Shakespeare's melancholy Dane. If you stop thinking about it and breathe deeply the madness can be held at bay for just a little while longer.

This is the incredibly, I don't know what to call this, idea of a British group called Shakespeare for Kidz. Naturally they do their name with the number 4 and a final z ( or zed as they would say). Their justification goes like this, quoting now from their website, their work is the "ideal introduction to Shakespeare". Really? 3D, Movie Musical. Best introduction to Shakespeare? The mind reels.

And the awfulness is not confined to a single moment of poor decision making. The company plans to make a total of 6 movies in the series to include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. The idea is to target the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, High School Musical crowd with these offerings. You do this by taking some of the greatest writing in the English language and adding, quoting again, "...a final sword fight that seems to be literally all around you". I don't know if I want to weep or be ill.

Actually I think the chance of these movies really catching the fancy of the teen aged audience is fairly slim. The concept is just too weird and the name Shakespeare isn't going to make it must see entertainment either. But I can imagine the poor actor playing Puck in Midsummer doing his closing speech - If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, You at least won't have to endure having this turkey on your resume for the rest of your life.


Do you have an "essential mobile device"? I will admit to being an iPhone owner and while I like it a great deal if worse came to worse I could live without it. I will admit that with every passing day I have it becomes a little more "essential" to me. So what would you define as an essential mobile device? Your smart phone? Your laptop? Netbook? Some folks still hung on on a PDA maybe? How about...your car? No I'm not playing a semi-clever word game here. Could your car become an essential mobile communication device in your life?

Maybe not for the older generation but Nissan thinks that's the next big thing for the younger generation. When they surveyed members of the Millennial generation here in the U.S. ( in case you've lost track Generation Y, the Millenials, the Echo Boomers and Generation Next all describe people born in the late '70's through the early '90's) and discovered that a new car was no longer the great status symbol with which ti impress your friends. Nope it was an iPhone. So what's an auto maker to do ? Simpler, build a car that's actually a smart phone with doors.

Enter the Nissan Cube. In many ways it looks like an overgrown iPhone. The concept is to really put the mobile in mobile. to be honest to these baby boomer eyes this is just another one of those dumb square cars (we call them toaster cars in my family) and with all due respect most of the people on the road today don't drive very well when they're paying attention. So a car that is really trying to hook up the driver with more social media of all kinds while behind the wheel strikes me as a really dumb idea. The worst part is that very quickly the younger consumers will figure out that it's basically just a cute (I suppose) care. Most of the mobile related stuff is in its design and promotions. When you climb behind the wheel, it's just a car. At 14 thousand dollars a pretty affordable little toaster car I will admit.

I can't help thinking that Nissan is right on the cusp of something really interesting. That they stopped at the cutesy marketing approach rather than really trying something new and exciting. Maybe they'll take that next step and we'll all discover something new.

Or maybe we'll realize we really do need to pay a little more attention to our driving.


I keep trying to find the silver lining in the economic hammering so many of us and so much of the media world has endured over the last year. Every once in a while I seem to catch a glimpse. Recently it's popped up that, partially driven by economics, there's a strange concept that is getting more attention in the movie industry. It's kind of shocking really. You see, they're starting to think a little more about starting with a good idea for a movie.

That might seem obvious to you and me but very often movies are more about star power or successful franchises than whether or not they're good ideas. The last year has been really tough on some stars too. Names that used to pull in some pretty good sized crowds have been coming up flat. Names like Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe, Julia Roberts. So now folks are actually spending a little trying to think about good movie ideas. It doesn't always work.

Let's take a look at a couple ideas out there. First we have Leonardo DeCaprio and Ridley Scott looking to bring Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" to the screen. I was astounded to discover it's never been made into a movie. A couple of TV adaptations but never the big screen. As we move into a world with more survelliance, facial recognition software and more this book is as timely as ever. Great idea and some great people to help it along. This might work.

At the other end we have the Farrelly Brothers idea of bringing back...the Three Stooges. Virtually every woman in the listening audience just groaned audibly and rolled their eyes. Most of the guys are thinking about it. You can stop. This is an awful idea. Which is probably one reason why they're having a tough time keeping actors committed to the project. Spend a couple minutes thinking about it and you'll realize why this is a turkey.

Of course then there are the cases when nothing will help. Recently I went with my daughter to catch Johnny Depp's latest movie "Public Enemies". Big name star with some solid, name supporting cast members, and all about an American icon John Dillinger. It would seem to have everything. Everything except an interesting story line. The story plodded along, the cast of characters was incredily confusing and there was nobody to root for, everyone, cops and robbers, were nasty corrible people.

I guess sometimes even a good idea can go bad.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Facebook is ticking me off

Is it just me or has FB been doing a lot of "site maintenance" of late? Seems about every third day I have trouble getting on the site for at least a while because of it. Today I've been locked out for several hours.

The level of annoyance this causes in me probably shows that I spend too much time on FB!

So far a pretty good day. Biked into the office and I'll bike home again. About 42 miles round trip. Final training runs for the Labor Day Loop the Lake ride for Episcopal Community Services. Basically the same ride I'm doing today but all in one shot. My personal record is currently 4 hours for the entire ride. Given that I currently clock the first half of the ride in only 90 minutes I'm thinking I'm about to take a big chunk out of that time. Even with a rest stop and the fact that I'll slow down in the final quarter of the run I'm figuring that I should do this easily in 3 hours 30 minutes to 3:45. We'll see.

In the meantime can FB get their maintenance done? Yeesh.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

And the news is.....GREAT!

Saw the doctor today and got the blood results. I could drag this out but in simplest terms -


Blood sugar test back into the normal range, "good" cholesterol jumped dramatically back well up into the normal range. All the other blood tests were solidly normal. Blood pressure was exceptional. On the whole I think I rather surprised my doctor by how well I'd done in just 8 months time. I've gone from a medium risk candidate for heart disease in the next 10 years to a low risk candidate.

I'm so happy I can't see straight.

So all that worry and the like. Complete waste of time. Knew it all along.

Now it's just a matter of continuing to do what has worked so far.