Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thoughts before going to bed.

About as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be in show business of some kind.But why?

As Bill Maher once remarked, Americans long for attention. Maybe that's it, but I won't blame being American for it.

When I was about five or six, my father was majoring in Journalism in college. In a fairly short time, he landed an internship with KTVB 7 in Boise, so there were months when I was lucky to see him once a month in Pocatello. Then, I don't know if he just got lucky or if the Idaho Falls-Pocatello market was just starved for new blood, but he landed his first paying gig with KIFI in Idaho Falls. It was just 50 miles from Pocatello, and the way Dad drived, he could make shuttle run between Poky and IF in, I don't know, an hour and a half, maybe an hour if his radar detector was working, and he'd kept up on the maintenance on first, that Barracuda, then second, that Vega.

If memory serves, we had to jump out of that car a few times on long trips for fear it would literally blow up.

But his main assignment was actually in Pocatello, covering whatever news happened there, film it, and get the film to Idaho Falls in time to be developed and edited for the next available newscast. Most of the time, the news was a city council meeting, which probably got a big "Hoo Hah!" from views in I.F., but I imagine they were courting audiences in Poky, competing with KPVI for the news ratings.

A lot of the time, the story was a big fire somewhere, usually out on the Arco Desert. Dad kept the Bearcat scanner on whenever he was at home so he'd get the jump on whatever was happening. There were a number of emergency calls just south of Pocatello near or beyond the Porteneuf Gap, and since we lived on South 4th, which was the main artery on the old highway out of town, yeah, we were the first to know about all those.

Sometimes Dad had to pick me and/or my sister up from school or daycare, then quickly dash to where a story was breaking. I can't count all the brush fires we saw on the Fort Hall reservation. A few times we were in... at least a marginal amount of danger. There was the time I was just sitting in the car, waiting for him to get back from getting enough footage of the fire, watching the fire creep closer and closer in the grass toward the car. Nothing became of that, but there was a range fire where Dad took my little sister along.

The way he tells the story, he took the car out to the fire, and before long, the fire was getting close to the car (deja vu). So, he got his footage, loaded Chris into the car, and... it wouldn't start. Fire closer. Car dead. Damned GM cars, I think he said. Fortunately, a big BLM truck rolled up, and the crew onboard told him to get in. He reached into the car, and pulled Chris out, which surprised the fire crew on the truck. They just weren't expecting him to be packing his kid along.

So they were rescued, and I guess he asked the fire dispatcher to relay a message to his boss in I.F. that they were caught up in the fire, the car was a likely loss, and they'd probably be late getting the film in. Somehow the message got back to the boss that he was caught IN the fire... word got back to Mom, and SHE panicked. I didn't know what was going on.

Needless to say, people were a bit miffed at him when he straightened out the story. Mom was mad because he'd taken Chris with him, although I think Chris was pleasantly clueless, as well at the time.

Because Dad was always on the News, he was a local celebrity. That in turn made us sort of celebrities as well, and many of our friends and classmates in school. Whenever Dad had to do some kind of story about school funding, teacher strikes, daycare, what have you, he'd always turn up to our classrooms with camera in hand to get a few shots. I don't know how badly the teachers minded this, but it was a good thing he didn't have a whole crew with the camera, the satellite uplink, and sound dude...

Generally, all he needed were pictures. Something relevant to the story, and there didn't need to be sound in it, so he always had a cache of 16 mm film on hand at home in the vegetable crisper of our refrigerator. The voice-over for the story he did on cassette tapes that he'd package with the film for shipment.

Yes, this was long before the present practice of stationing a reporter in front of the crime scene hours after the place is cleaned up for a live remote, and it was even before video tape got to be more prevalent.

I decided when I was six or so that I wanted to be either a stand-up comic like David Brenner, or a television weatherman like another local celebrity, Lloyd Lindsay Young. He was your classic very outgoing personality that... alright, you either loved him or you thought he was profoundly annoying. Since I was six, he was a giant both physically and as a genuine legendary figure. He was funny, which I believe weathermen often had to be. At least have SOME kind of personality because, face it, this guy was getting paid to talk about the weather.

So when I didn't want to be a news man like my Dad, I wanted to do stand up or be a weatherman. Sounds like "entertainer" to me. Just to be funny and make people laugh like Lloyd did every time he explained the cold front coming in, or David with his short tales of when he was a kid my age.

I mention David Brenner because he was the first stand-up comic I really became aware of. We got cable television when I was in first grade, which got us HBO, and a bunch of regular stations out of Salt Lake. There were other comics featured on HBO that first month we got it, but they had some kind of rating system, or at least a parental advisory that told the folks to send me and my sister to our room when someone like Rodney Dangerfield or Steve Martin came on.

Also in that first month of HBO when it was young, I discovered Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes, at the tender young age of six, maybe seven, tops, I exposed myself to the Pythons in a rather concentrated dose. I saw Holy Grail probably about seven times in one month. My friends who were good LDS suddenly had their cable cut off. How bad could it be? I was rolling on the floor, laughing so hard I got hiccups.

I also got to see all of the Pippi Longstocking movies, and I developed a hopeless crush on Inger Nilsson. I didn't know just how hopeless the crush was until I found out the Pippi movies were all Swedish. Needless to say, I didn't even know there was a place called Sweden at the time, let alone that it was a place FAR far away... Come to think of it, I never noticed that bad lip-synch until fairly recently.

Here's a good stopping place.

Peace be with you.

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