Saturday, October 16, 2010


Somewhere in time's own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some paradise where horses go,
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.
~Stanley Harrison

Watching Secretariat win the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years is one of my most treasured childhood memories. In the ‘70s, my church stood one block over from Churchill Downs, my family lived in South Louisville just a few blocks from the Twin Spires and horse racing was in the air we breathed.

Critics have cynically dismissed this as Seabiscuit, the Sequel. There are parallels in their stories to be sure. Like Seabiscuit, Secretariat came at a time when people needed a hero. Economic struggles were again upon us, the presidency was tainted with scandal and the fabric of our society was fraying. Yet, for two minutes on the first Saturday in May, Secretariat gave us all something to unite and cheer about.

Secretariat is directed by Randall Wallace, writer of Braveheart, and at one time a would-be pastor until his pastor told him to pursue his true calling (he'd been writing since age 7). Wallace’s film is as much about the horse’s owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy, as the great stallion itself. The photography is gorgeous, the film’s story is compelling, and the roles are well cast with actors who fit the characters quite nicely.

This is a wonderful, feel-good movie. For those of you who remember 1973 races, you’ll nonetheless find yourself holding your breath as “and down the stretch they come!”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Obama's Tin Ear (or Why Jammin' Takes Experience)

Charlie Daniels has always had a way with words. The turn of phrase in his lyrics (Uneasy Rider or The Devil Went Down to Georgia just to name two) reveal a cleverness of thought that quickly dispels any notion that Mr. Daniels is just a redneck fiddlin’ fool.
On his band’s website, there is a section entitled “Soap Box” where Daniels holds forth on a variety of topics. I’ve enjoyed reading these from time to time over the years, but hadn’t checked out the site recently. In fact, I’d pretty much forgotten about Charlie’s essays until my friend Bill Smith posted one of Daniels’ blurbs from May where he uses his 50+ years as a musician to develop an analogy of why Obama is failing. I think Daniels has hit a high note. You can read it here.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I'll Miss You, Stephen J. Cannell

The writer behind many of my favorite TV shows growing up, Stephen J. Cannell, died Thursday evening, September 30. I never met the man, but I am saddened by his passing.

His shows were always entertaining. Some were gritty and brilliant, such as Wiseguy. Some were iconic, such as The Rockford Files. And some were just mindless fun, such as one of my favorite, The A-Team.

Cannell found writing success beyond television scripts penning several mystery novels. He recently did several cameos as one of the title character's poker buddies on the series "Castle" which features a crime novelist working with a NY detective on murder cases. There are even novels tied to the show written by "Rick Castle" that many believe are actually the product of Mr. Cannell's prolific typewriter.

I will always remember him by the ending to his shows which showed him in his office typing away and then pulling the paper out of the typewriter and tossing the sheet in the air. You can see it here.

In reading the tributes in some of the Hollywood industry web sites, the comment section has been quite telling. Invariably when some Hollywood type dies, someone will talk about the deceased's character flaws and failings and why the passing is no big deal. With Mr. Cannell's passing, I have yet to read anything but praise and appreciation for a man who supported and encouraged other writers. He even has an online writing seminar (of sorts) on his web page.

Thanks for the hours of fun, Mr. Cannell.