Tag Archives: television

How I Miss Music Video Programs

Ever since music video programs took to the airwaves in the 1980s, I have always been a huge fan of the art form. Whether it was “Friday Night Videos”, “Video Hits”, “Good Rockin’ Tonite”, “MuchMusic” or “MusiquePlus”, I was glued to the set. Hour after hour I would watch, mesmerized by this cool art form combining music, film and storytelling in a tight package with a run time of about four minutes.

Through my late high school years and university years, music videos formed the soundtrack of my life, featuring artists like Duran Duran, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama, Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and the Jackson family. Music videos welcomed me home from school, were the focal point of some parties, helped keep me awake through late-night essays and helped me pace myself in studying for final exams.

When I got into the career years, priorities changed a little as did my ability to watch 12 consecutive hours of music videos. But I remained a fan nonetheless, often keeping the music channels on for background music while I cleaned my apartment or worked in the kitchen.

A few nights ago, I realized how much I missed music videos as a source of background music. I decided to try to recreate that feeling.

Since I got the iTunes app almost a decade ago, I have purchased a few music videos that were particularly special to me, but not enough to make a playlist as diverse as what a music video channel offered back in the day. Plus, iTunes doesn’t carry all of my old favourites.

YouTube on the other hand, carries almost everything I could possibly want, with only a few exceptions. Sadly, some treasured videos are hanging by a thread in cyberspace with only a couple of grainy versions to be found.

Last Friday, after I had gone to bed, I wondered if I could create a YouTube playlist of favourite videos. I got up and gave it a try. It couldn’t have been easier, but my timing was a mistake.

What started as a 5 minute experiment turned into a full scale project into the wee hours of the morning, building a playlist of favourite tunes based on the best quality versions available.

Thanks to my Apple TV, my YouTube playlists can follow me around, I just need to hook up the Apple TV device to an HDTV wherever I happen to be puttering (but not the old-style tube TV in the picture above).

Two days later and armed with 600 favourite songs grouped together in three playlists, I now have my own free music video channels, combining old favourites and brand new ones. I love it!

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen working on my food prep for the week, accompanied by favourite tunes and familiar faces, singing away the time over pulled pork, scalloped potatoes and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.

When working in the kitchen, I tend to avoid watching movies or new TV programs. It is difficult to keep track of an intricate plot as well as the distance between a knife and my fingers, so my full attention goes to the sharp instruments, as it should!

What I like best about music videos is that they are something with which I can multi-task and glance up every now and then, between steps in a recipe or between tasks, without breaking concentration and without seriously breaking the flow of the music. Much like a musical playlist I might use to go running, a music video playlist is another tool to keep me happy, engaged and in a good energy flow.

But as much as I feel huge gratitude for technology and being able to recreate the feeling of having a constant source of music videos, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth… it was very close… but it wasn’t the same.

I miss (what some might consider) the chatter between the blocks of videos. I miss the video jockeys (VJs) and the hosts. I miss the music news, the interviews and the interesting facts about the artists, the songs and their creative process that have made me a contender in any game involving 1980’s music trivia.

While I could certainly Google factoids myself, I liked that the hosts brought information to me that I wouldn’t be inclined to research myself, about artists that might not have known enough to look into. In doing so, it just fed and heightened my curiosity about the industry, the many people behind it, and the creative forces that drove it.

In the creative world, I tend not to see boundaries between artists’ chosen media. Art is art, and all of it can be inspiring when a spirit is open to it. In some ways, knowing more about the music industry still lends itself to developing an understanding of the business side of writing. I am certain that there must be some common elements.

Plus, every four minute story carries with it the possibility of sowing seeds of inspiration for my own writing and creating threads I can weave into my own stories.

Even in the absence of the VJs and the music news, it is a “Thriller” to be “Hungry Like The Wolf” again and “Left to My Own Devices”, watching hours of music videos which feeds my “Constant Craving” for music. I “Just Can’t Get Enough”. With music videos, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, it’s a “Beautiful Life”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Where Have All the TV Theme Songs Gone?

This season, the American television network “The CW” launched a reboot of the favourite 1980’s prime time soap “Dynasty”. In watching the very first episode, I was delighted to see several nods to its original series, including having kept its great orchestral theme song. The only thing was that it was a much shorter version of it.

Similarly, Netflix has recently rebooted “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Again, a really unique theme song, but chopped down to just a few bars of its original.

Have you noticed how the opening themes for many American TV shows have gotten shorter and shorter over the years? Now, some shows don’t even have them at all.

If I mentioned the names of program like “All in the Family“, “Golden Girls”, “Three’s Company”, “The Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island”, even if you weren’t a huge fan, I’m sure many of you would be able to recite a few words if not the whole theme song.

These theme songs became deeply entrenched in our pop culture, and some have become synonymous with the decades when the shows originally aired. In doing so, they also became entrenched in our hearts and minds.

As young kids, we couldn’t play “Batman” without singing few rounds of the famous “Na na na na na na na…” theme.

What would have become of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” with a theme song about a messy breakup instead of the inspiring words about making it after all? Continue reading

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My Top 10 Favourite Halloween Costumes

Over the years, I haven’t been one to shy away from dressing up for Halloween (… or any other day of the year, when the occasion called for it). I have always found it to be a lot of fun to step out of character for a day and take on another persona for the pure fun it.

Over the course of a half-century, I have had plenty of opportunities to try on different costumes. What surprises me is that the ones that seem to be the most memorable were not necessarily the store-bought ones, but the ones that involved an injection of creativity to complete the look.

Here are a few of my favourites:

10. Bugs Bunny

The most memorable store-bought costume had to be my favourite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. Because I wasn’t in growth spurts around that time, I am pretty sure I wore it for (at least) two consecutive Halloweens.

It was pretty simple really, a grey polyester jumpsuit with a white chest and belly that I could hop in and out of in seconds, and a plastic mask with a little elastic in the back that needed a little reinforcing for the second year.

Add a carrot, fresh from our garden, with the stems still on and I was as happy as a clam. It really was a simple pleasure.

9. Groucho Marx

Inspired from an episode of “All in the Family” where Mike and Gloria were dressed up as Groucho and Harpo Marx, Mom helped me make a home-made Groucho Marx outfit. For the costume, she raided my parents’ closet for a white shirt, jacket and pants that would appear baggy on me, and then drew on a moustache and bushy eyebrows. Combined with plastic glasses and a plastic cigar from my toy box, and a repertoire of horrible jokes, it was an easy yet effective home-made costume that was a lot of fun. Continue reading

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Fine Tuning the TV Habit

When I wrote the blog post “Deleting without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt” a little over a year ago, little did I know that I was on the cusp of a serious change when it came to my TV habits.

In that blog post, I shared the guilt I felt in deleting programs my PVR had recorded but that I did not even watch. Scandalous… I know!

But in doing so, I was (sort of) following traditional rules of de-cluttering: if it’s been sitting there for a certain length of time and I haven’t watched it, will I ever get back to it? When I was really honest with myself, the answer was pretty clear.

When the new shows rolled out in the fall months of 2016, I gave several programs a chance, but I was getting a little more ruthless in my programming choices. I set a boundary: if after 2-3 episodes I wasn’t really loving the show, why was I still watching? Sadly, only a few survived and remain on my list today. Funny enough, “Designated Survivor” is one of them. (Is art imitating my TV life?)

I hate to admit that using that same rationale, even some shows I enjoyed in recent years have dropped off my must-see list. What happened to the kid who used to push up the national average for TV watching?

You could say that without really thinking about it, I wasn’t watching TV out of habit anymore, I was watching TV with more of a purpose.

Once the bar was raised, the available space on my PVR started increasing… and increasing. And in doing so, not only had I freed up space on my PVR, but time was freeing up in my life as well for things that mattered more. It was a seismic shift. Continue reading

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Where Have All The Exercise Shows Gone?

20MW AlbumNot that long ago exercise shows were a staple of daytime TV. At any time of the day (sometimes evenings too), there always seemed to be an exercise show of some kind on one of the channels… and this was long before having 200 to 300 channels to choose from.

I admit that I was a disciple of those shows. It seemed that my VCR or my DVD recorder was always set to record some exercise show that matched my fitness goals at the time. To me, it was important to maintain a healthy shape, because I did not want a repeat performance of my “husky years”.

Among my favourites were “The Body Electric” (PBS), “Caribbean Workout” (The Sports Network), “Rendez-Vous Reebok” (Réseau des sports) and of course the classic that ran in syndication for many years, “The 20 Minute Workout”. I also enjoyed “Kiana’a Flex Appeal” and “Bodyshaping”, ESPN programs that aired on Canada’s TSN, which coached me in how to use gym equipment safely.

More recently, my local community TV channel has been airing a series I love called “Yoga for Runners”, an outstanding program that inspired my stretching routines before, during and after my training for my first half-marathon. I still do those stretches today.

Throughout my years of TV exercise shows, I have learned about muscle groups, exercise physiology, and proper nutrition while in training. I also learned to listen to my body and how to perform exercises correctly. The educational component of TV exercise shows cannot be denied.

TV exercise shows were always great tool, in my opinion, for juggling a busy professional life too. It was just me, the instructor(s), a few basic pieces of exercise equipment (free weights, mat, bands, step), in my living room, on my schedule.

Once I started learning the routines and actually feeling the positive effects through confidence, better quality sleep, better muscle tone and a higher metabolic rate, I would become very loyal, very quickly to the program that got me there. Also, the more fun the show and the instructors were, the longer I stuck with the program. Continue reading

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My Take-Aways from Awards Season

Oscar and me1Ever since I knew I wanted to become a writer, whenever I watched The Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, The Emmy Awards (Prime Time and Daytime) or the Tony Awards, I always found myself walking away feeling inspired that one day that could be me.

When I hear writers’ acceptance speeches of humble beginnings, late starts in life or how a unique little story or unique way of telling a story became the object of much attention, I really do feel validated that there is purpose and potential for a budding writer like myself.

I do not delude myself into thinking that my turn WILL come at the awards podium, I think the odds of that are equivalent to winning the lottery. But I would like to think that my imagination, my creativity, my ideas and my story telling style combined with consistency and persistence, are the foundation for writing stories that will resonate. Where it goes from there, nobody knows. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and hopefully land somewhere in the middle.

This year in particular, the word “diversity” has been a recurring theme, appearing in speeches, editorials and reviews which struck a particularly deep chord with me.

As writers, I think we all have an innate fear, “What if no one is interested. What if no one reads it.” If the appetite for diversity is as strong as it seems to be, I take that as my cue and as my challenge to dig deeply for the stories that can matter and that can resonate.

The appetite for diversity is a sign to me that people want to see themselves in a story, someone to relate to, someone who has felt Continue reading

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How Bewitched Was Your Day?

Bewitched DVD As far back as I can remember, Bewitched has always been one of my favourite classic TV shows. Elizabeth Montgomery starred as the beautiful Samantha Stephens, a good witch trying to live like a normal suburban housewife, despite the intrusions of a colourful cast of relatives on her mortal marriage.

Over the years, I found my imagination and creativity spurred by the fun visual effects and magical sound effects depicting their fictionalized version of witchcraft. As the show replayed in reruns, decade after decade, the characters became a permanent fixture in my subconscious and still pop up in my life when I least expect it.

A few days ago, I was having one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. Technology wasn’t working as planned, inanimate objects weren’t cooperating, I bumped into a wall. The day was such a write off that I thought to myself, “Man, am I ever having an Aunt Clara kind of day”, which seemed rather appropriate given the circumstances.

When I gave it a little more thought, I figured out that you could equate a day to almost every Bewitched character, given their very unique qualities.

How was your day today? Was it…

A Samantha kind of day
A keen problem solver and peace keeper who can rely on common sense, resourcefulness and intuition to get out of a bind… but an occasional eye of newt or bat’s wing is not out of the question.

A Darren day
An unfailing spirit who would do anything for the love of his life, even if it means getting put through the ringer, having limits tested daily, and being turned into every species of animal known to roam the planet.

An Endora kind of day
The queen of the hive, the lioness, a powerful defender whose power should never be put to test. Could be perceived as meddlesome even though everything she does is TO HER, with the best of intentions and to protect the ones she loves. Continue reading

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