Holidays, Mall of Famers and more…

Happy Holidays to all of you. I could throw in the seemingly pre-requisite line that goes something like, “Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Qwanzaa and a great Festivus!” but that’s overdone. I think I heard this line about ten times in two nights in the Old Port last week. Even worse, I think I said it six of those times…

By the time some of you read this, I’ll be on the final day of my five-day vacation – a welcome getaway considering we’ve had at least one Friday, Saturday or Sunday game the past eight weekends. I’ve had so much time off that I honestly don’t know what to do with myself, but I do know I’m at what’s known as ‘That Point.’ You know, the point where being home is nice, but that it’s time to get out of your parents house and go back to the crazy, makes-no-sense lifestyle you suddenly miss? Being a child of divorce, I don’t really have a ‘home neighborhood’ where I can catch up with old friends and light things on fire while listening to stories of them working in-town for the new L.L. Bean outlet store and dating the ‘wicked hot’ girl we knew in 10th grade. Honestly, I think that would be pretty cool on this Monday night, but I’ll settle for my Portland Mafia and the afore-mentioned O.P. trip anytime.

Some of the things I miss about Maine or What I Wrote Down While Flipping Through Channels and Refusing More Holiday Fudge at 3 pm:

1 – Maine TV stations have more of a hand on the pulse of the state: Yep, I’m a media nerd. One of the things that stunned me when I first moved down to New Hampshire was the lack of major media outlets as the Granite State has just one big paper and one tv station. (The reason given is that a lot of NH’ers get their news from the Boston stations. I don’ t know if that means we have less interest in different points of view, but I’m not buying it.) Here, there are three stations in Portland alone, never mind the ones in Bangor and other areas. I usually bring this point up when in conversation with native NH’ers who claim that Mainers are hicks.

In catching up on some WCSH-6 the past few days, it struck me that these people have a more genuine feeling and involvement about their viewership than the stations we have. Some of this is caused by the Boston issue, but I just feel a closer connection to the Portland newscasts even thought I’ve been gone for almost five years. Like I said, media nerd.

2 – I don’t think it gets much better than Maine public access t.v. Between the Portland and Lewiston-Auburn versions, is there any less qualified group of people to run a station than us? I’m on channel 7 in Auburn right now that has been focused on a dark conference room somewhere in the city for a good few hours. On another channel is ‘Musicians of Maine’ whose participants don’t exactly deserve that title. So far, I’ve seen two different kids singing country songs, dressed up in gear that will make them hate their parents upon re-watching the show in 10 years. I need my own show here…it could be huge.

3 – Recently, I heard about some crazy tax on water that the state is trying to impose on Poland Spring that would basically drive smaller bottled water-based businesses out and hurt the water giant’s standing in Maine. Combined with the resistance to casinos and any other forms of taxable revenue generators, it’s pretty easy to understand why the state is in crisis financially. I appreciate the fact that everyone is trying to save the state’s reputation as a scenic wonderland, but let’s face it: there’s plenty of land for that purpose. Would a few casinos hurt that? No and they would actually keep mucho-bucks in Maine for those people staying in-state to gamble their Social Security checks away. Someday, I hope the Pine Tree State gets it, but I fear it might be too late.

4 – Trying to adjust to different cable channel lineup when visiting others can be like explaining the Dewey Decimal System.

In all, maybe I miss living here more than I thought.

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-Over 200,000 were killed in last year’s tsunami. Combined with the mass destruction of Katrina and Wilma, the last 365 days were one of the worst for human tragedy in history. Just something to think about next time any of us complain about something trivial…

Personally, 2005 is a year I’d soon like to forget. Two friends of mine moved away to the Left Coast, which affected me more than I ever thought. Another friend went away in a different sense, while new friends made their entry into my rogue’s gallery. Yet another pal was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and now faces a battle against physical and mental challenges that none of us can fathom but are ready to help him take on. Work changed quite a bit and has evolved from one of great heights and accomplishments (the All-Star game being the biggest) to one of constant challenge that I’m trying to get my arms around. On a positive note, I moved into a new one-bedroom apartment and have now fully adjusted to living the truly single life. I took several trips to new places (N.C. and Atlanta) and continued the eternal search for whatever my Holy Grail really is. I met some great people and had some great experiences. We had a Milleystock, a Simmons meeting and plenty of Sox games along the way.

But I cannot wait for 2006, tentatively entitled “Nason’s Revenge.” Already on the docket is my first participation in a wedding party as one of my best friends slips on that fateful band in July. Throw in a couple more random weddings, another Milleystock (?), pregnancy announcements (I’m guessing here), kickboxing classes and the usual/unusual occurances that happen with me, 2006 is the year I hope to really snap back into the reality that I want to live in. Nason’s Revenge, y’all…it’s on.

Until next Saturday though, it’s back to saltines and seltzer, baby.

–Look for a really interesting blog in about 7-10 days. The first female contributor to the Aces will be in the house as she and I will debate growing up ‘twentysomething’ and the male/female relations that lie within. We’ve done some prelim work and it should be good.

Finally, I am set to announce the first Nason Mall of Famer or an NMF’er. There is no criteria and no real rhyme-or-reason to these choices. However, each NMF’er is something that helped me become who I am in some strange form or fashion. At the end of the day, my goal is to make some of you go, ‘Holy shit…I remember that!’ You might be an NMF’er – who knows? First up…

1980’s Public TV for Kids

I am telling you right now there was no better time for public broadcasting than in the 1980s when it came to making cool kids tv. Cable was years away from truly being in every household and we were left with the major networks to provide us programming truly worthy of being our virtual babysitters. (In another blog, I’ll address cartoons…non-abused scout’s honor.) So, PBS had every opportunity to make a big impact with kids infatuated with Trapper Keepers, Transformers and doing stupid shit with their hair. Just look at this killer lineup of shows that made their way through the decade:

-Sesame Street: enough said. From the lone black inhabitant in Gordon to Luis and Maria’s Fix-It Shop to Muppets that were basically homeless (Oscar) to the ‘Mr. Hooper dies episode,’ ‘Sesame’ deserves its own section.

The Electric Company TV Show - The Electric Company Television Show-The Electric Company: Even though it began in the 1970s, the five-minute Spider-Man live-action segments had me hooked. Between Easy Reader (played by Morgan Freeman) and Fargo North, Decoder, the show was actually written by an actor that some people might recognize – Cheryl’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm. And FINALLY, the show will be released on DVD in February of 2006. You think Morgan would consider a movie remake? What if it was a detective movie with Ashley Judd? Between Freeman and Laurence Fishburne as Kowboy Kurtis in ‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse,’ there’s a good Oprah show somewhere in this. Somewhere.

-New Zoo Revue: Another 70’s creation that got renewed life in the 80s, this show’s tagline is ‘a way of life through music.’ In other words, think of giant dancing characters that interacted with humans. There is talk of an animated movie, but nothing can truly get the taste of how trippy this crew was. (Side note: I’m surprised that the FDA never did a full-scale report on how drugs and kids tv could be interlaced. I would love to use my Super Mario pipe to warp back and see a show in the right…mindframe.
-Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: If this show began today, parents would be up in arms. A neighborhood of ‘make believe,’ a mailman named Mr. McFeeley that was addicted to quick service, a land ruled by a dysfunctional king and queen with an obviously gay son, all run by an older man who owned this safe house located somewhere in a random neighborhood, stopping by from time-to-time just long enough to change his sweater and shoes. Uh-huh.

3-2-1 Contact TV Show - 3-2-1 Contact Television Show– 3-2-1 Contact: A show about science that I actually liked. These days, kids would be made fun of for watching shows about school subjects, but back in the 80s? This was the shit. The Bloodhound Gang were the major stars, but overall, this show kicked ass and can probably be linked to most of the scientists/engineers that now create bombs to kill people. Thanks PBS!

Square One: This one was at the tail end of the 80s when everything in general started to dilute into the lovely neon mess called the 90s. But if you loved math, this 30 minutes was for you. Between Mathnet and the lovable Mathman, S1 was the last notable attempt of PBS to really put something interesting yet fun out there. While I still need a calculator to do the smaller of minor equations, I credit S1 with helping me attain a ‘Continental Mathlete’ award while I was in elementary school. Anyone from Maine compete in one of these?

The Letter People: Somewhere along the way, this program helped inspire me to write and learn words. The Letter People were great as quite simply, it was about characters based on letters. The scribe’s answer to shows like ‘3-2-1 Contact,’ Letter People was like G.E.D. for kids. Do today’s shows even bother teaching or is it all merchandise-driven now? Man, I sound old. “Come along with the Letter People…A-B-C and 1-2-3!”

-Reading Rainbow: The final notable entry of the 80s PBS revolution was my main man Lavar Burton’s claim to fame before all that Star Trek/Broadway jazz. I could say so much more, but my best memories were going to our family camp in the summer and asking to go to the library after watching Burton suggest some books at the end of a good ‘Rainbow’ program. It was a good way to break up the day’s other activities of swimming, more swimming and navigating the secret paths that ran through the woods. While flipping channels today, I caught a few minutes of an old program and almost shed a tear at Lavar’s high-fade haircut.

So your first NMF’er…1980s PBS Kids Shows!

su-fi,
nason

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