Monday, August 30, 2010


The 2010 62nd Emmy Awards show is one I'm really enjoying viewing as I write this. In fact, I’m concluding as this show ends that it is one of the best Emmy Award Shows I’ve seen in recent years. Host Jimmy Fallon is generating fun and excitement most effectively. Betty White is making all elders, especially women, proud!

I've always had an interest in these awards since my voting member days at our local chapter soon after the Emmys were first established. Many years ago Rod Serling ("Twilight Zone" creator) came to our Columbus, Ohio chapter officially authorizing us to give local Emmy awards. I think this year’s show's rapid pace reflects present day life, integrating live and previously recorded audio/video action that conveys the flavor of television integrating with the Internet experience exceptionally well. Frankly, I'm looking forward to the complete transition of both mediums to my future TV for excellent picture sound reception with a big flat screen, simple connections and operating device at a cost all can afford.

I've deliberately avoided cable/satellite/phone television subscription since broadcast signals in the Los Angeles area with usually exceptionally clear reception are freely available in my community. I especially enjoy the programming of the three Public Television Stations. I'm reminded as I watch this Emmys broadcast of all the cable programs I'm missing, especially HBO and Showtime. This awards program continues with humorous unobtrusive audio commentary often provided during the time startled winners rush to the stage to make reasonably short acceptance speeches.

Sprinkled throughout the program are award nominees who respond to questions about themselves such as "When did you first get a laugh?," "Is sexy funny?," or to the Ernst and Young Accountants who tabulate and certify the voting ballots, "When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?" One replied, "A professional baseball player."

Then they shared some of the various monitoring network powers-that-be notes with which TV series program writers must contend, such as being asked to rewrite a Shakespeare quote saying the words “needed to be clearer.” Oh, yeah? Another note was to change a story element referring to someone as having six toes because it was "too weird." So the writers changed it to four toes and that was acceptable -- who knew!

Emmy winner in Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Special: Bucky Gunts won for "Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Opening Ceremony," NBC. That’s quite a spread of categories in which shows must compete. One director, Louis J. Horvitz, was nominated in that group for Kennedy Center Honors for which he’s won Emmys several times, also directing awards for earlier years Emmy shows and the Academy Awards. During showings of this year’s nominated programs Mr. Horvitz was asked one of my favorite questions: "What did your Mom want you to be growing up?" He responded " accordion player on the Lawrence Welk Show" as he was seen squeezing the instrument. I have the pleasure of knowing how proud his mother is, and his father is of all his accomplishments as are his wife, younger actor brother, Richard, (click for link to his web site,) and sisters (one of whom with her husband I count as special friends.)

I really enjoyed laughing with Wanda Sykes when she gave us a grocery shopping experience in which her actions demonstrated the pride of an African-American woman whose nation now had Obama as President. She humorously pantomimed striding out of a super market with her purchase of a watermelon she flaunted by openly carrying it on her shoulder.

I was reminded of a personal supermarket experience years ago when I was in the produce section busily thumping on watermelons, listening to the sound, trying to determine which one might be best. Just happened there was an African -American gentleman next to me engaged in watermelon examination. He turned to me and quietly conspiratorially inquired, “How can you tell which one to pick?” I responded in an equally soft voice, "I don't really know. My husband is much better at this than I am because he long ago had lots of fresh produce grocery business experience." The gentleman then confided amused perplexity that earlier a white woman had come to him there at the watermelon display in a manner that clearly indicated she assumed he should know how to select a good-eating watermelon because he was black. We shared an incredulous but good laugh at his being so stereotyped. I didn’t think quickly enough to say, “Geeze, I thought you would know.” He would have roared with laughter.

An HBO movie I will watch in the future won superb actor Al Pacino an Emmy in the Miniseries or Movie category for "You Don't Know Jack." That's Dr. Jack Kevorkian's story. There are additional productions I anticipate enjoying in the future.

I did have a few favorites in the TV series categories with "The Good Wife" being one such series.

My favorite awards of the night went to first place winner of Made-for-TV Movie HBO's "Templin Grandin." Claire Danes won Best Actress, Miniseries or Movie. When I first heard she would play this role I had grave reservations about this casting since I had heard the real-live Templin Grandin speak many years ago. I knew how this young autistic woman looked and behaved. My doubts were put to rest when I watched this HBO special on DVD this past week. Ms Danes performance was spectacularly impressive, magnificently capturing Temple Grandin, getting inside her skin, which I later learned Ms Grandin believed, also.

David Strathairn won Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie portraying with skillful acting skills a very significant teacher in real-life Temple Grandin's evolution through education to meaningful productive development of her unique skills with the ability to “think in pictures.”

Julia Ormand, portraying Ms Grandin's mother, was awarded a Supporting Actress Emmy, Miniseries or Movie. She grasped the challenges and difficulties this real-life mother faced. Ms Ormand uttered a great observation in her acceptance comments:
"...there is a place for a chick flick with bulls balls."

You'll have to see the movie to gain even greater appreciation for this comment.

Catherine O'Hara in the role of Ms Grandin's Aunt Ann was very convincing. She accentuated the positive impact these farm family members love with caring acceptance had on her development allowing young Temple’s discovery of her empathy with animals.

Mick Jackson was awarded an Emmy for Directing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special. He very clearly articulated to Temple Grandin seated in the audience that this movie was her and intended to be her. Her enthusiastic response rising to wave to the audience confirmed what I've read, that she believes the movie is her true story, not always the case in such movie productions.

I confess to prejudice in favor of this movie based on having heard the real Templin Grandin speak at one of the eight institutions that compose our local Claremont Colleges consortium twenty or so years ago before she was well-known. Ms. Grandin wanted to acquaint people with autism, with the potential for some individuals, by describing her experience as an autistic person, by discussing her life from childhood to the then present. Her talents had just begun to be recognized as a designer of compassionately constructed cattle stock yards. Her skills were beginning to garner her paying consulting contracts.

I was particularly intrigued by the sensory and behavioral aspects of her autism experience. She spoke of how the mere touch from other human beings was experienced as being extremely intensified which she perceived like sensory overload, actually being painful. A hug was truly unbearable. As I recall, she was continuing to have therapy of a desensitization nature to increase her tolerance, but still preferred not being touched. So, in the Emmy Award show tonight when she came on stage, then threw her arms around the woman from the HBO show in the midst of an acceptance speech to give her a long tight hug, I could see how far she had come to be able to do that without flinching.

I also recall included in Ms Grandin's speech those years ago her discussion of how her mother had internalized the doctors repeated message that her daughter's autism was the mother's fault. Mother was to blame for not bonding with her child, had been cold, withholding of love and affection. This was the prevailing psychiatric belief about autism's causes her mother and other women were repeatedly told by medical professionals when women sought help for their child. I might add, through the years mothers have been unjustly scapegoated for many deficits their children have exhibited. Later scientific research, including brain studies, has shown the presence of neurological differences, chemical and hormone imbalances from that of non-autistic people.

Always question whenever medical people give answers that do not logically match what you know to be your experience and true to you. Do not accept being told what you are feeling and experiencing as all “being in your head.” Do give reasonable consideration to that possibility from respected professionals in some instances. Insist on further explanation for such viewpoints, consider exploration of other possible causal explanations for whatever feelings you're experiencing.

Ms Grandin's mother knew what she was being told wasn't true as she had raised another daughter in the same interactive manner who was not autistic. But repeated psyche assaults of being told otherwise can cause someone to doubt themselves. During the years preceding Ms Grandin's speech. science had established the truth about autism. Though her mother learned this, accepted and knew she was not to blame for her daughter's deficits, Ms Grandin said the years of being told otherwise still gave her mother pause at times. Knowing all this, I could appreciate Ms Grandin's Awards show gesture insisting that her mother stand to be recognized during such an emotional moment during what was clearly such a meaningful event for them both.

George Clooney received a well-deserved Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his efforts to aid those in many of the world's disaster areas. The academy cited his work against Darfur genocide; raising funds for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; fund raising for Hurricane Katrina; and a telethon to benefit Haitian earthquake victims. His closing comments in accepting the award were so true and a most thought-provoking challenge to all:

“The truth is when a disaster happens, everybody wants to help. Everybody in this room wants to help. Everybody at home wants to help. The hard part is seven months later, five years later when we’re on to a new story. And honestly, we fail at that most of the time. That’s facts. I’ve failed at that. So here’s hoping that some very bright person right here in the room or at home watching can help find a way to keep the spotlight burning on these heartbreaking situations that continue to be heartbreaking long after the cameras go away. That’d be an impressive accomplishment.”

Dr. Temple Grandin - Web Site
Blog: Autism From The Outside - Book Review: Thinking In Pictures

Friday, August 27, 2010


How do you know if your mind is preoccupied?

When you notice you've poured your orange juice in your cereal bowl instead of the glass.

That was my first clue on a recent day filled with the expected and unexpected. I've been quietly empathetic with the fact so much of the country has been experiencing unusually hot weather this summer while we've had a cooler summer than ordinary in Southern California. Yeah, there was a little bit of me that was feeling sorta smug about our nice weather -- a feeling that should have signaled me I was in for retribution for allowing even an eensy weensy thought like that to enter my mind.

Sure enough, the previous night I had noticed the house beginning to feel warm, though the air conditioner was running. The thermometer confirmed a high temperature greatly exceeding the thermostat setting. My check of a wall register revealed warm air flow instead of cold indicating A/C malfunction. I was awake the rest of the night ready to phone in my SOS to the A/C repair magicians soon after daylight seeped though my bedroom windows. The call was made with my plea for help duly recorded by the A/C group’s automated machine, giving me hope my service would be added to their technicians schedule for that day. Just to be certain my message had been noted by staff I phoned again when the office was open. I was disappointed to be told no one had noted my call and all service calls had long been scheduled, not only for that day, but at least through the end of the week.

I was desperate because we were in the midst of an excessive heat alert with temperatures well into three digits coupled with high humidity. I recalled when my husband was living that due to his medical problems he rightfully was automatically given special service during power cutbacks for certain medical and appliance malfunctions. I benefited as a household member, but I’ve believed I was no longer in need of such special considerations and have not requested any. On this occasion I decided to “play the age card.” I stated my age, adding that unfortunately, my body no longer tolerated extreme temperatures and heat as when I was younger. I reported I hadn’t been able to sleep at all the night before and inquired again whether they could possibly provide service sooner. I was asked to “hold” while another person was consulted. The resultant message was my A/C unit would receive service the next day.

The rest of the day the house interior gradually heated up. I managed to get a few “glowing” soaked hours of sleep during a few intervals throughout the day. In case you didn’t know, “horses sweat, men perspire and women glow,” as I recall a saying from my mother's horse and buggy days. I was surprised to be feeling much too listless to leave the house to go to an air conditioned movie theater as the day before I had thought I might. The night’s cooling air failed to infiltrate sufficiently throughout my home, so despite a fan focused on me I experienced more erratic sleeping hours. The A/C thermometer indicated numbers just below three digits, so I stopped checking it.

Here's jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald singing "We're Having A Heat Wave" with accompanying photos of her and Marilyn Monroe who many think generates heat of her own.

After another heat-filled night, during which I had little sleep, when morning arrived I was amazed to discover my strength seemed to be sapped. I came to understand first hand what my mother had meant years ago during her older years when she would say, “The heat tires me.” I rotated my morning activities of personal care and dressing with lying down on the bed. Later preparing breakfast alternated with resting in the recliner while I ricocheted back and forth to stand before the refreshing electric table fan blown breezes.

Clearly I needed to activate Plan B. My mind plotted how I would spend my day and evening in air conditioned comfort at various locales. Just then my thoughts were interrupted by a welcomed phone call reporting my home was next on the A/C service list. An hour or so later one of the A/C dealer company owners from whom we had purchased our unit many years ago arrived to diagnose the problem. Seems a “capacitor had blown” which he reported was happening to other unit types, too, during this heat onslaught. He replaced the capacitor which was relatively inexpensive, costing less than the labor, as is so often the case with mechanized, electronic and digitized products today. The total cost was reasonable and worth every penny to me as the welcomed cooling air circulated throughout my home.

Now I can keep my mind on whatever I might be doing. I’m confident my breakfast beverage will no longer occupy my cereal bowl since I can’t really imagine microwaving my oatmeal in orange juice. Still – maybe I should try it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010



This tune is for you, Millie: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" being sung by Frances Langford with the Modernaires in the movie "The Glen Miller Story" starring Jimmy Stewart.

Keep blogging!

Visitors here can click on this link: "My Mom's Blog" and wish Millie a Happy Birthday.