July 4, 2012 [LINK / comment]

Happy Fourth of July!!!

USA flagIn spite of oppressively high heat and widespread damage from fallen trees, the City of Staunton went ahead with its annual America's Birthday Celebration today. I haven't been feeling well lately, but I still managed to get down to Gypsy Hill Park to share in the Fourth of July festivities this afternoon. I always find the friendly vibes from the folks in a small town to be very uplifting. The Last Minute Band was playing some great bluegrass music, in spite of being exposed to lethal solar rays standing on the gazebo. Hot, hot, hot!!!

Fourth of July, 2012 Gypsy Hill Park

Amusement rides, live music, and dozens of tent-kiosks featuring various treats and refreshments were the main attractions in Gypsy Hill Park. Roll mouse over image to see a closeup of the Last Minute Band.

To my surprise, I hadn't taken Fourth of July photos since 2009.

It's really too bad our country doesn't pay as much attention to Constitution Day (September 17) as it does to Independence Day. I'll have a big more to say about that subject in a forthcoming politics blog post.

R.I.P. Andy Griffith

Beloved homespun TV star Andy Griffith passed away yesterday, which was quite a shock to me. The star of "Andy Griffith" (1960-1969) as well as "Matlock" (1986-1994, more or less) got his start in Hollywood, in the movie No Time For Sergeants, which I saw on Turner Classic Movies a couple months ago. The nostalgia for the bygone days of small-town southern living is palpable here in the Shenandoah Valley, and one of the affiliate stations of WHSV-TV3 in Harrisonburg still runs "Andy Griffith" on a daily basis. I confess that I enjoy watching it. I fondly remember watching that show when I was growing up in a small town (albeit in a different part of the country) during the 1960s. In a small way, Sheriff Andy Taylor was a lot like Will Rogers in the 1930s or Mark Twain in the 1890s, helping a country cope with rapid socio-economic change and hold on to its identity, via the good graces of humor.

My friend Matthew Poteat wrote a very nice column about Andy Griffith in today's News Leader. Matthew grew up in North Carolina, and thus identifies strongly with the positive values embodied in that show.

This would be a good opportunity to call attention to one of the many "works in progress" on this Web site: the TV shows page. It summarizes in chronological, tabular fashion nearly all of the most popular or significant prime-time network television shows since the dawn of the TV Age in 1950. (That is when all three big networks, as well as Dumont, began regular broadcasts seven days a week.) The several hundred shows that have aired over the past six-plus decades are categorized according to network (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.) and genre (drama, sitcom, westerns, variety, adventures, game shows, news, etc.). There are sure to be quite a few glaring omissions, and I hope to fill in those gaps in the coming months.