Thursday, August 31, 2006

Emmy Ante

I know the Emmy Awards are old news and probably have been for at least ten years now, but I noted a few items of of interest as I paused my channel surfing several times on Sunday night. Since it was the lowest rated Emmy show in years, you may not have been watching, so here's what you missed.

First, the presentation for Best Reality Show by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert was hilarious, lampooning reality shows, Hollywood and the huge, thin-skinned egos that lurk behind talk show desks. I stopped when I heard their names as the next presenters, and was rewarded by this clip. I laughed the first time and again the next night when I found it on Bravo, and every time I watch it on youtube, I laugh again. The bit at the end about Barry Manilow and Hugh Jackman had to have been added at the last minute because it reflected an award that had been presented earlier, but it's the funniest two minutes I've seen on television in a while.

The other segments that caught my attention were the tributes to Dick Clark and Aaron Spelling. Yes, Dick Clark looks terrible, but, hey, the guy had a stroke, give him a break. And somebody tell Simon Cowell to either wear a tie or one of those tight little T-shirts he dons for American Idol because the Austin Powers chest hair look is really not working (and I would know). Aside from that, I thought the whole thing came off as very sweet; the American Bandstand production number led by Barry Manilow fit right in and capped off a salute to an indisputably impressive body of work.

The Spelling tribute did not work nearly as well. Maybe it's because I find his work contemptible. No, I'm not going to pull a Jerry Seinfeld and deny ever watching Melrose Place, but I hate myself for doing it and I don't think a single person's life was enriched by any of his shows. Plenty of bank accounts, but that's about it. And the reunion of the original Charlie's Angels looked more awkward than David Lee Roth rejoining Van Halen on MTV a few years back. For supposedly professional actresses, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson were awfully fidgety waiting for their turn to read from the teleprompter. Is it so hard to stand still and smile while the audience might for one moment be focusing on someone else? How 'bout a little Ritalin for the Angels next time, huh?

Speaking of short attention spans, that's all for now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Aaand .... we're back!

That's your summer, folks! Once again, some of you may look at your calendar and say otherwise, but the boys went back to school Monday, and, for me, that means summer ... is ... over.

It was a busy one, as evidenced by the fresh coat of paint on their bedroom walls and the four (count 'em, four) blog posts since
school ended. Looking back briefly at the projected activities for the season, I can happily declare that this summer was a success. And I'm not just standing in front of a banner on an aircraft carrier making this proclamation; I've got plenty of proof and wide consensus on the issue. In brief, here are the highlights:

Swim Team

The Summer Hill Stingrays had a smashing good season, and, in their debut, the Fitz boys made strides that I would not have dreamt possible at the first practice. From not being able to complete a 25-yard lap in any recognizable stroke to competing in all four strokes just a few weeks later, from wanting no part of the team to finishing second overall in the division in the 25-meter backstroke, this endeavor was a complete and total victory. There is no greater joy for a parent than watching your children learn and progress, and more than once, I caught my breath in my throat as I watched them glide through the water.

Basketball Camp
I should have learned by now not to underestimate Juan Dixon. The kid from Baltimore defied the detractors who said he was to small and slow to play in the ACC and went on to lead Maryland to the NCAA Championship and will begin his fourth season in the NBA in a few weeks. So I should have known better than to cynically suggest that his role as co-director of the Champions Basketball Camp at Loyola College would be limited to an hour lecture, a few jumpshots and photo ops. No, unlike many stars who attach themselves to camps in name only, Juan Dixon showed up every day and worked with the campers from start to finish. And on Friday, he sat at a table and signed every autograph and posed for every picture as requested. Kudos to Dixon and to his co-director, Loyola Head Coach Jimmy Patsos. We'll be going back for at least one session next summer.

Both the immediate and extended family versions of these trips were entertaining and enjoyable, if not exactly restful. For the 300+ mile trip to the Outer Banks, the Doc and I finally broke down and bought the portable DVD player for the boys to watch while we drove. The silence that greeted us as they donned their headsets and settled in was unfamiliar and eerie, almost exhilarating. It would appear that the days of counting out-of-state license plates, playing the "Alphabet Game" and searching for the magic pen for the "Yes and No" books are over.

We found no time for zoos, monuments or amusement parks, and the only museum we took in was the Maryland Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards (two thumbs up, hon'), but some part of summer has to be set aside just for hanging out. Now that it's over, I am left in silence every morning as what a friend once described as "that golden chariot" whisks the boys away to school. It's an invigorating quiet, sort of like the atmosphere in the car heading to the beach, except that I'm not going anywhere, there's nowhere I have to be (most days). So I guess I'll be here.

Tomorrow: The Emmys, Mr. Tony and Monday Night Football, "Rescue Me," and whatever else pops into my feeble brain.