I could've sworn I'd heard about this years ago, and I think I did, but I also may be confusing it with the Vatican's about-face on Evolution. Namely, that Evolution does not appear to conflict with Scripture, so, hey, it's OK now.
Back when I was a kid in Catholic school, such talk would've landed you in the dean's office facing charges of heresy or something.
Now, evidently, four-hundred years after they locked up Galileo for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Holy See and his robed gang have decided to open their own X-Files and seriously inquire as to the possiblity of extraterrestrial life.
The Vatican's chief astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, says, "The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration."
Umm....yeah! Welcome aboard! Where were you when I needed you in the '60's!
Long-time PCR readers are well aware, that though Ye Olde Editor-in-Webmonkey has been an atheist and skeptic for at least thirthy years, I have long been an enthusiastic supporter of UFO research and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Conflicting beliefs? Not really. My official stance is that while I'm not terribly impressed with the "evidence" for ETs that's come before now, I'm very hopeful that we will eventually find something out there, something verifiable by science.
The about-face by the church regarding aliens is significant in that, before now, the prevailing religious "theory" is that the Creation of Intelligent Life was determined to be unique to Earth, and that humans were oh, so special, and that the existence of aliens from space would conflict with Scripture. Extraterrestrials were never mentioned in Scripture. Just angels and demons. And if you're a Catholic and went against that, well, you remember what I said about Galileo.
But the Catholic Church has been moving slowly in a more liberal direction since the '60s. Unfortunately, it has also seen its share of controversy the past few decades. Despite my moving away from the Church, I still follow the news/gossip. I guess some parts of it never left me. So, if the Vatican says Evolution is OK and that The Truth Is Out There on space aliens, well, that's huge news to me!
However, on the skeptical side, I've said it before, I'll say it again: The Earth is no longer flat and is one of a family of planets that orbit a central sun. Religion can put up a ferocious and deadly battle, but in the end....slowly, over the centuries and with glacial pace...science wins in the end.
Today is Veteran's Day as I write this, November 11, 2009.
We at Crazed Fanboy, no matter what our political leanings (and they can swing pretty wildly), always commemorate our soldiers fighting overseas, extend gratitude to those who have served in the past, and, above all, honor those who have fallen in the line of duty. *Salute!*
Yesterday, November 10th, the classic PBS children's show Sesame Street celebrated its 40th anniversary on television. It is the longest-running children's show in history, an amazing accomplishment.
The show is produced in the United States by the non-profit organization Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), founded by Joan Ganz Cooney and Ralph Rogers.
Of course, my strongest memories of the show were the classic Muppets characters created by the immortal genius Jim Henson. While Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Company commanded the most attention, it was Big Bird who basically hosted the show. Other memorable characters such as Oscar the Grouch and Elmo also left quite an impression.
And while the show was a landmark of educational television for kids, I myself being 14 years old at the time of its debut was a little old for its target audience. Nevertheless, I absolutely lived for the skits involving roommates Bert and Ernie, who I found to be consistently fall-down funny! I think it was the touch of subversive adult humor I perceived. (In retrospect, this was probably me reading too much into it. However, Henson was notorious for his double-entendres featuring the Muppets on talk shows. The latter sketches on SNL bore this out. But I digress...)
As I recall, Sesame Street was the first children's show to deal honestly with a death of an elderly character, "Mr. Hooper", when the actor who played him, Will Lee, died in 1982. Rather then recast him, they dealt sensitively with the issue to the largely pre-school audience.
The infectious theme song written by Joe Raposo became as much a part of beloved Americana as any nursery rhyme.
Hats off to Sesame Street and may it last another 40 years!
Two things right off: first, I'm a little premature in that the Second City anniversary is December 10th, but I'm afraid I'll forget it. Second, the "50th" anniversary is actually for The Second City the precursor to what most baby-boomers remember today as Second City Television, or SCTV as it became in 1976. Both shows emanated from north of the border, namely Toronto.
The original SCTV cast (1976 on) consisted of John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Ramis and Dave Thomas. All also served as writers on the show, although Martin and O'Hara did not receive writing credits on the very earliest episodes. Ramis served as SCTV's original head writer, but only appeared on-screen as a regular during the first season (spread out over two years).
Similar in format to America's Saturday Night Live, the show centered around spoofing television. But additionally (and not like SNL), in-house media melodrama was also satirized with characters like John Candy's vain, bloated variety star Johnny La Rue, Dave Thomas's acerbic critic Bill Needle, Joe Flaherty's wheelchair-bound program manager Guy Caballero, Eugene Levy's swarthy comedian Bobby Bittman, Rick Moranis's bearded video deejay Gerry Todd, Catherine O'Hara's washed up TV has-been Lola Heatherton, and Andrea Martin's flamboyant, leopard-skin clad station manager Mrs. Edith Prickley.
My personal favorite was Joe Flaherty's horror host "Count Floyd" who always managed to get confused during his improvised monolgue, all while doing a Bela Lugosi-type accent.
Martin Short, who was part of The Second City improv troupe and later a cast member on SCTV was a featured guest on Live with Regis & Kelly this morning (11-11-09), and it reminded me of this anniversary.
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Old friend and author, Christopher Heyn, left, with traveling companion, William.
Ye Olde Editor, left, with Chris Heyn at Nina O's Grill & Bar.
Group shot attempt. L-to-R, Joel D. Wynkoop (camera hog as always, haha), Terence Nuzum, empty Nolan Canova chair (I'm the photog), Chris Heyn, Will, Chris Woods, Lisa Scherer.
Chris Heyn (rhymes with "rain") is someone I've known for over 25 years. I first met him when I was working at a bookstore at Britton Plaza, and he was a teenager who'd come by after school. We talked frequently, got to know each other and grew rather close. I attended his Eagle Scout ceremony at St. Patrick's Hall. I was always impressed by how bright and energetic he was. He left Tampa soon after to attend Oral Roberts University and eventually go out into the world. We were separated for many, many years, and I thought I'd never hear from him again.
I'm always moved and not just a little honored when any of the many young people I've met and befriended over the years comes home and remembers to visit Uncle Nolan. Long-time readers may remember Chris's visit to me in 2003, shortly after he'd reinitiated contact. We caught up on missing time and I learned he'd taken the road to Hollywood.
Chris, now 44 years old, was a script consultant on La Femme Nikita, an American/Canadian television spy drama based on the original French film directed by Luc Besson, and was present during the whole run of the series. Eventually, he wrote a behind-the-scenes book about his experience, Inside Section One, which also features a complete episode guide and cast interviews. It is one of the most exhaustive and comprehensive books of its kind I've ever seen, and I gave it my highest recommendation in a review.
Chris and his friend Will came to the Tampa area last week on vacation from LA and we arranged to hook up at my gang's current watering hole, Nina O's, Sunday, November 8th. I was thrilled to be able to introduce Chris to the PCR stable and vice versa. The talk was animated, we took a brief jaunt down memory lane (always love that) and we were able to pick Chris's brain about his show-biz experiences.
I've included a few pics to mark the occasion. Hopefully, it won't be so long before we can all meet again, but I'm grateful for whatever experience we can muster.