Overtures

Funny how words in the English language take on a different purpose from generation to generation. Take, for instance, the word “overture”. It is used quite often as an expression to start the ball rolling in negotiations. Everyone seems to be chasing rainbows and looking to cut a deal. “Let’s make an overture” usually means “let’s indicate interest to the other party so that we can make an offer that they will not refuse.”

There was a time when “overture” served an entirely different purpose. It was mostly used to describe the beginning portion of a musical performance. It was intended to provide a nurturing effect in getting everyone to their seats, relaxed and prepared to watch a movie or concert. In the 1950’s and 60’s, when movie musicals were still very popular, a film would contain several songs that would be familiar to the audience before they even went to the theater. If you went to see a blockbuster film such as “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, “South Pacific”, “West Side Story”, “The Music Man” or even a drama with a moving score such as “Exodus”, you’d expect to be entertained with short segments from many of the popular musical numbers.
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Religious Atheists

The world is one big pyramid scheme. There has to have been one go-to guy who started this mess and delegated others to continue its supervision. That’s where we all get into fighting each other- trying to convince others that our go-to guy is THE guy. Or gal, excuse me. Religion is the set of rules by which we let others know that our god is better than some others.

Then again, it can be that we all actually believe in the same go-to guy, it’s just that we all look at him (or her) from different angles. Remember that game we played as a kid, “telephone”? The one where a bunch of us sat in a circle and one after another whispered into the next person’s ear a secret. By the time it got down to the last person, somehow the secret message was totally changed from its original. So, it is possible that the original message has become garbled through time and we are all chasing the same Biblical tale.
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Chinese President Hu is On First

Chinese leader President Hu Jintao made a historic trip to the United States this week to meet with President Obama and members of Congress. On Wednesday, Obama and Hu held a joint press conference that developed unintentionally into an Abbott and Costello routine. For whatever reason translators were not made available who could provide almost simultaneous translations of both presidents statements as well as answers to reporters questions. One would think that if the United Nations could do it, so could the White House. Instead, President Obama was surprised when after giving an opening statement for what seemed like ten minutes, a Chinese translator gave an equally long harangue to the straight-faced Hu. A couple of minutes into the translator’s talk, Obama cut in and apologized to the newsmen present that he had no idea that this was going to be the protocol.

When Hu spoke, Obama looked askance and tapped his ear, making a motion that he was clueless as to what was being said but to his credit showed patience to wait as did the rest of the audience to finally find out its meaning. And when a reported asked Hu why he seemed to be evading answering a specific question, Hu replied that he didn’t even know it was being asked of him.

I can imagine a reporter in the back of the room turning to another and asking, “Who’s speaking?” and the other fellow replying, “exactly”. Which reminds me of the time I first came face to face with a live Asian when I was a teenager in the mid 1960’s. Until then, the only ones I had noticed were Charley Chan and his number one son in the old movies shown on television as well as Fuji, the cook and erstwhile captive on McHale’s Navy.
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Five and Ten Cent Stores

Here’s an expression that is not in use since the late 1960’s- “The Five and Ten Cent Store”. That’s where you buy items theoretically for as low as a nickel or dime. It has been replaced in today’s world by such emporiums as KMart, Walmart and Target on a much grander scale as well as the dollar store on a smaller scale.

The five and ten cent stores were a kid’s dream. There were two in the Austin neighborhood on the west side of Chicago for much of the 1960’s. On Madison Street on its north side half way down from the corner at Central was Robert Krinn. I’d walk in there clutching a dollar and come out with something exciting even if it was for short term enjoyment.
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Radio Nights

By Larry Teren

 

My dad gave me a pocket transistor radio with an earphone in the very early 1960’s. I had eclectic tastes even then. Depending on the mood or what was available, I would listen to Dick Biondi spin rock and roll records on WLS or Franklin MacCormack and his “All Night Meister Brau Showcase” on WGN. If the Chicago Cubs were on the road, especially a West Coast night game in Los Angeles or San Francisco, I’d be sure to listen in on the broadcast.

There was something cool about listening with the earphone plugged in even though there was no one else in the bedroom to disturb. I’m sure I fell asleep countless times this way only to wake up with the earphone somehow laying under the pillow.     Continue reading “Radio Nights”

The Three Stooges

Living down the block from school as a kid in the late 1950’s and early 60’s enabled me to come home early enough to catch some quality afternoon tv for children. This was before the era of do-gooders trying to offer diversity-based educational stuff like The Electric Company or Sesame Street. We did have early education staples such as Ding Dong School with Miss Frances and Romper Room (“I see Jimmy and Mary and Bobby”) but a lot of it was electronic babysitting.
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