Friday, January 31, 2014

"...When I Was Younger, So Much Younger Than Today....."

As we nudge toward a 50th anniversary, a bit of Beatle business...

(right after, of course, the inevitable word(s) from one sponsor or another)


1965....this then 13 year old aspiring rock and roller got through, via phone, to WTIX in New Orleans, in those days one of the two primary top 40 AM stations, to "ask a question" of their special guest of the moment, one Louise Harrison Caldwell.....I don't remember what I asked....and, fifty years later, it seems almost a little silly that it was such a big deal to have spoken with the sister of a Beatle, as opposed to. say, a Beatle himself, was....

oh...wait....I remember now...

I asked her what the name of the forthcoming second Beatles movie was going to be....

And like every good sister who is doing her best to be a good promoter, Louise Harrison Caldwell, actual sister of an actual Beatle answered me....

Right there, on the air, for all of the Greater New Orleans area radio listening audience to hear.

As a result, for just a few weeks, in 1965, I enjoyed a life of minor celebrity amongst my peers, having been the one to not only get through to actually speak to an actual sister of an actual Beatle, but the one who secured the big deal reveal of the title of the follow-up to our, up till then, favorite-ist film of all time...

"A Hard Day's Night"

Louise Harrison Caldwell and I had "had a chat"....

And she had given me, for all the Greater New Orleans area radio listening audience to hear, the, up till then, title of that forthcoming follow-up to our, up till then, favorite-ist film of all time which would, undoubtedly, become our new favorite-ist film of all time.

"Eight Arms To Hold You".

The second feature length, fun filled, music soaked film by those cheeky lads from Liverpool who, by then, had, at any given time, at least four or five hits in the Top 40 charts at any given time.

The Beatles.

And a 13 year old aspiring rock and roller had actually spoken to an actual sister of one of those actual Beatles.

Louise Harrison Caldwell.

Who, being the loving sister, and savvy promoter, that she was, had graciously given that 13 year old the scoop of a lifetime, what with spilling the beans about that title.

Never letting on, total pro that she was, that the producers and those cheeky lads from Liverpool had already decided on a title change for that forthcoming, soon to be favorite-ist film of all time, but had, for reasons of their own, determined that they weren't ready to make that information public.

For when it was released in that summer of 1965, "Eight Arms To Hold You" had become...

And the actual sister of an actual Beatle had never let on.

Making it, unknowingly, possible for a 13 year old aspiring rock and roller to enjoy, for a few weeks, a minor celebrity.

Nicely played, Louise Harrison Caldwell.

Nicely played.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"....Tonight....Tonight.....Who's Cryin' Bout Tonight.....That Guy Who's Not The New Kid In Towwwwwn...."

".....Previously.....on Phelpsounds....."

Having not yet seen the full 60 Minutes with the (only time will tell if he is actually gone to stay) Tonight Show departing Jay Leno, I read some brief excerpts yesterday and then had this little acid splash to offer on my FB page:

every kid with a dream of making it in comedy would give pert near anything for fifteen've had more than thirty years, Jay....shut up....

Today, still having not yet seen the full interview, I came across what I think is a reasonable perspective on the whole dealio, written by Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly.

Jay Leno’s blitz of interviews in advance of his mandatory retirement from The Tonight Show reminds us that a graceful exit is hard to do — especially when people won’t let you.

Anyone expecting or wanting some sour chin music from the iconic comedian during his much-hyped appearance on Sunday’s 60 Minutes was probably disappointed. But it was tart enough, thanks to Steve Kroft’s decision to cast Leno’s story as a cultural flashpoint for a seismic generational shift, with aging baby boomers ceding/losing power to their kids and grandkids. CBS never accused NBC of ageism, but it used some choice factoids and soundbites from Leno to suggest that the network wasn’t doing right by its good and faithful servant, still the No. 1 player in late night. Following an intro in which Kroft cited research showing Leno to be the fifth most popular personality on TV and pitched his twilight-of-the-boomers premise, the piece proper began with Leno — jokingly — telling the story that he says he tells any newbie in the business, that the reason why showbiz pays so well is because “eventually, you are going to get screwed. That’s the way it works… That’s the way these things are.” No effort was made to define “it” or put “these things” in context (or ask NBC for comment) or what fairness looks like or should look like in an ad-supported business in which not all demographic groups are monetized equally. Leno might be the fifth most popular personality on television, but these days, that distinction comes with a trail of tiny little asterisks.

So began a profile that depicted a Leno trying to have it all ways. War-scarred victim. Thick-skinned team player. Relevant cultural icon. Contented soon-to-be retiree. Tireless entertainer. Everyman. Rich man. The only role he resisted was the one 60 Minutes wanted most — a Late Night King Lear, a sad and bitter old man who just doesn’t know when to quit.

Kroft’s piece doted on the “bizarre” “debacle” that was NBC’s first attempt to retire Leno from The Tonight Show at the height of his powers back in 2009 and replace him with Conan O’Brien. Kroft’s chronicle certainly flattered Leno, casting shade on the Team Coco narrative that Leno stole The Tonight Show back from him. Leno certainly appreciated this perspective (so did his wife, Mavis), as it mirrored his own. He was “blindsided”; it was like being dumped by a girlfriend; Conan acted unprofessionally. (I’m curious to see if and how O’Brien might respond to this interview.) During a trip to Leno’s airplane hangars, home to his legendary collection of vintage roadsters and muscle cars (Leno’s only extracurricular activity outside of his career), Kroft confronted Leno on his alarming lack of other interests and emotional growth. Leno balked, and a visiting Tim Allen squirmed. It was awkward for everyone.
If the big “get” here was for Leno to say that his current situation is completely analogous to his previous one and then swing away at NBC and Fallon, Kroft didn’t get it. Fallon, Leno said, is an “extremely qualified guy,” and he singled out Fallon’s ability to connect with audiences in ways that he can’t, like social media and viral video. When Kroft reminded Leno that he was similarly politic and good-sporty during the Conan ordeal, Leno evidenced surprise, then made an impish crack. “I did!? Well, we’ll see what happens.” Did 60 Minutes want to leave us wondering if Leno is rooting for Fallon’s failure? That he covets a third term behind The Tonight Show desk?

The loaded ambiguities of Leno’s 60 Minutes interview were clarified to some degree during a joint Jay-Jimmy interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show Monday morning. It was an excerpt from a longer sit-down that’s scheduled to air next week; NBC either wanted to capitalize on Leno’s 60 Minutes appearance with a next-day follow-up, or do some damage control, or both. Leno insisted that unlike the Conan situation, in which he was told he had to give up The Tonight Show, this time, with the Fallon situation, he was asked, and he agreed, and now, while he’d love to keep working, he is ready to leave. Fallon said he and Leno speak every few weeks, that Jay “roots for me” by praising his work. Both comedians said all the right things, although coming off the 60 Minutes interview, it was easy to question their sincerity.

It sucks getting fired from a job you love, regardless of how wealthy you are, and especially if you find your identity in your work, as Leno clearly does. Leno deserves a dignified exit — and Leno needs to put himself in a position where he can exit with dignity. If the 60 Minutes interview didn’t serve his interest, ultimately, that’s on him. NBC is not making a mistake in replacing him now, with Fallon. Leno is No. 1 now, but the late-night culture and business is changing and evolving; Fallon represents NBC’s best bet, at present, to transform The Tonight Show into the buzzy, transmedia entertainment enterprise that shows its need to be moving forward. Fallon represents the future. That’s a bitter pill to swallow if you’re Jay Leno. But he’s swallowing it. We shouldn’t be surprised if he winces while it’s going down.

Post Mr. Jensen's observations, a few of my own....

.....first, in my humble o, the last vestiges of legitimate journalism and/or, more to the point, non-tabloid attitude departed 60 Minutes with the departure of Mike Wallace and his peers (due respect to the still living and contributing Morley Safer who is, I'll wager, at the top of every "hip" member of the 60 Minutes executive staff's list of "Just Be Nice To The Guy Till He Dies But Don't Pay Any Attention To His Story Ideas" list) Kroft's crystal clear attempts to bait Leno into biting on the hook of full blown controversy were for naught....and Leno, to his credit, repeatedly swam away from that hook, seductively dangling as it was, give or take a snarky nibble or two...... a child of the generation that grew up on Carson and was around, in young adulthood, to watch the torch go from John to Jay, I still find it interesting, and not just a little ironic, that Jay, underneath whatever "I'm really a good guy" badge he wears on any given day, is in tip top mental shape in his 60's, his ability to feel, laugh, cry, hurt, be hurt and/or having his feelings hurt in admirable working order, with the exception of one pretty obvious (to everyone who was around in 92 except Jay) faculty that seems to be failing him...his memory....and his memory of how his "ascension" to the late night throne occupied with grace and class and high bar setting style by Carson was pulled off in pretty much the same manner as Fallon's ascension is being handled now.....not so much a passing of the torch as a "here, old guy, give us that, young guy, you da man, baby" yanking of the thing....

...btw, in that category of interesting, it should be noted that Carson never sniped in public about his treatment at the hands of the, then, young turks at NBC, never appeared anything but gracious, classy and high bar setting stylishly as he had the aforementioned torch yanked away after giving NBC thirty years of late night dominance......and, most tellingly, once Carson was gone, he was gone...

...also to note, though, that all of these years later, in a culture whose young adults have about as much awareness of Johnny Carson as my generation had of Steve Allen (who? exactly.) Carson is still held up, by Leno here and everywhere else in comedy, as the platinum standard for late night hosting.... the "reader's comments" section of the online article (always a guaranteed font of Rhodes Scholar level wisdom and insight), one contributor offered, in defense of another contributor who was clearly not a Lenolover, that "if Jay ain't funny, he wouldn't still be number one in the ratings"....(I love a good refutation, especially when it comes candy coated in the delicious flavor of bad 2nd grade grammar) take?....I think a large chunk of Leno's audience was inevitable, given that The Tonight Show is still basic network, not cable, and there are still a lot of people who only watch local TV....(I guess they ain't thinkin' Bill Maher or Bill O'Reilly ain't funny)....

...least, but very possibly not last depending on how much steam this story has, I'm feeling just a scoche more compassion for Jay, in the context of his being encouraged to render his garments in public by the one more low rent merit badge to earn before he moves to Fox News Steve Kroft...but only a scoche....primarily because he...

   a) willingly sat down with Kroft knowing full well that it wasn't going to be a "greatest hits/get a plaque/fond farewell" interview...

  b) is still sneaking in a few drops of whine with every bite of humble pie he wants us all to see him eating...

  c)  has, even if I concede his comedic talent, which I really don't, almost made the last twenty years pretty much a wash once his "contribution to late night television" is balanced against his "retiring/being pushed out/prime time aint workin/gimmie back my show/and...then...retiring/being pushed out/Fallon's a nice guy/being pushed out" low budget drama of the last few years.....

  d) has managed to forget that what goes around, comes around, every dog has his day, the pusher eventually becomes the pushee and/or everything, EVERYTHING, has a shelf life.......

And, like I said the other day, Jay Leno has been blessed to have a shop to sell his stale bread long, long....long after the expiration date.

Good luck, J.....enjoy your next chapter.....

In your honor, I took the liberty of composing a little lyrical tribute to you......

To the tune of that fun little number from the Broadway show/movie "1776", "Sit Down, John"

Shut up, Jay
Shut up, Jay
For God's sake, Jay
Shut up...

Shut up, Jay
Shut up, Jay
For God's sake, Jay
Shut up!

(Someone ought to bring a crying towel!)

You’re no Johnny C
So have mercy, Jay, please
No one watches you in Philadelphia

(Someone ought to bring a crying towel!)

I say NBC!
Ain’t done right by me!
Can’t I stay till twenty thirty three?!

(Someone ought to bring a crying towel!)

I say Fallon’s fair to middlin'!
(Shut up, Jay!)
But can’t I stay till twenty thirty three?!

(Someone ought to bring a crying towel!)
No! No! No!
Once he said goodbye
Then he told Conan lies
Now no one watches him in Philadelphia

Are you going to bring a crying towel?
(Ain’t we had enough here?)

Let me stay!
(No, we’ve really had enough here!)

Let me stay!
(Oh for God's sake, Jay, shut up!)

(Good God! Consider yourselves fortunate that you have Jay Leno around to keep the all-important over 75 bracket tuned in!)

Jay, you're a bore
We've heard this before
Now, for God's sake, Jay
Shut up!

Can’t I please stay!
Well, I won’t go away!
(You will!)
I won’t budge till twenty thirty three!

(Someone ought to bring a crying towel!)

Fallon’s not ready!
(Shut up, Jay!)
You need me till twenty thirty three!

(Will someone shut that man up?)
(Never! Never!)

(Just ask Conan!!!!)

And...heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's........oh, if wishin' made it so.

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Graaaammy, How I Love Ya, How I Love Ya...My Dear Ol' Grammy....."

unasked, observations re' Grammys....

1) one of three things has happened.....

     a) the whole thing has become a developmentally arrested exercise in self congratulations....

     b) I have simply reached an age when it appears the whole thing has become a developmentally arrested exercise in self congratulations...

     c) any combination of a) and b)

2) if there were still a "Hollywood Squares", Madonna would be in the center...

3) delightful, and poignant, to see Paul and Ringo perform.....even if it's starting to come off just a tad like that part of the wedding reception where the young folk let Grampas Richie and Paul sit in with the band for a number

4) I don't look forward to seeing Taylor Swift come on stage in a pantsuit, cowboy hat and cane in thirty years.

5) there seems to be some grumbling about the "hurry up and get this over with" feel of the "In Memoriam" segment....given the age range of the performers, odds are that was done intentionally so as to guarantee the audience would be able to clearly distinguish between the living and the dead.

6) Best country solo performance
Lee Brice -- "I Drive Your Truck"
Hunter Hayes -- "I Want Crazy"
Miranda Lambert -- "Mama's Broken Heart"
Darius Rucker -- "Wagon Wheel" -- WINNER
Blake Shelton -- "Mine Would Be You"

     despite Nashville's best effort to lay claim to a seat at the mainstream table, NARAS kept them in their place as each and every country award was awarded to, arguably, the least "country" act in the nominee list, up to and including "best country solo performance" being awarded to the former leader of the Blowfish, for a song co-written by Bob Dylan.

7) Adele retains her affectionately deserved darling status, although she hasn't released anything new in, what, about five years, with her win for "Skyfall", the theme from that James Bond film that was released, what, about five years ago?

8) Kacey her....have since her for her winning multiple country awards, see 6)

9) Best pop instrumental album
Herb Alpert -- "Steppin' Out" -- WINNER
Boney James -- "The Beat"
Earl Klugh -- "Handpicked"
Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot -- "Summer Horns"
Jeff Lorber Fusion -- "Hacienda

     now that's some funny shit, right there.

10) Best R&B song
"Best of Me" -- Anthony Hamilton
"Love and War" -- Tamar Braxton
"Only One" -- PJ Morton featuring Stevie Wonder
"Pusher Love Girl" -- Justin Timberlake -- WINNER
"Without Me" -- Fantasia featuring Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott

     hey, Kanye! the white guy won! bwahahahahahahahahaha....

11) in a wonderful advance in the war on drugs, who needs peyote when you have Paul Williams standing in front of Daft Punk

12) Paul McCartney never won a Grammy for "Eleanor Rigby", "Hey Jude" or even "Yesterday"...but wins one for "Cut Me Some Slack".....okay...

13) Best traditional pop vocal album
"Viva Duets" -- Tony Bennett and various artists
"To Be Loved" -- Michael Bublé -- WINNER
"The Standards" -- Gloria Estefan
"Cee Lo's Magic Moment" -- Cee Lo Green
"Now" -- Dionne Warwick

     ladies and gentlemen, the new standard by which great vocalists are measured....Michael Buble'....hmmm....thinking of that scene in the uncut version of "Alien" where Sigourney comes across the newly webbed, breeding host Tom Skerritt who whispers desperately to her, "kiiillllll meeeeee"

14)  gluten free? who cares. Miley free? now you're talkin!

15)  feel bad for Miley, though....since Robin didn't win, she won't get the deposit back on the five thousand foam fingers rented for the acceptance number.

16) Best dance recording
"Need U (100%)" -- Duke Dumont featuring A*M*E & MNEK
"Sweet Nothing" -- Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch
"Atmosphere" -- Kaskade
"The is What it Feels Like" -- Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie
"Clarity" -- Zedd featuring Foxes -- WINNER

     one thing makes me feel pretty sure I've outgrown all of this....I have no fucking idea who any of these people are...

I realize, and freely admit, that I've not been much for these kinds of shows for...well, ever....and, in my defense, I did open with what I believe to be a valid disclaimer (see...1)...)...

...and all of the preceding rambling was, much like all of the nominations and actual awards involved in the Grammy process itself, purely a matter of subjective, personal opinion..., don't let me pee in your bowl of morning after Grammy cheer Cheerios.

If you're still hungry after that, though, here's a little food for thought....

....some years ago, a Columbia University professor conducted research, via computer, taking into account the number of notes in the musical scale and determining that, by the year 2005, every possible combination of musical notes available to the human ear would have been used, at least, once....

    ...he was only off by 9 years.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"...Coming Up Next....The Very Latest In Broadcasting Presentation from 1974...."

Despite what it seems, the following story is actually about art.

The kind you can't see without looking very, very closely.

Explanation forthcoming.

  (CNN Money)

The ongoing blackout of the Weather Channel in DirecTV homes -- affecting fully a sixth of all American households -- exposes a challenge for television channels that carry weather, news and other types of information that are increasingly accessible on the Internet.

The channels have to ensure that they're providing something the Internet can't -- and that may be getting harder and harder to do.
"News, weather and financial information are so widely available online, it's very cannibalistic to these genres," said Derek Baine, a senior analyst for SNL Kagan.

The television blackout, after all, doesn't extend to what is arguably the Weather Channel's most important asset, DirecTV customers still have access to the Web site, "which may be cannibalizing the core channel anyways," Baine said.

Weather Channel representatives push back by saying that they've invested heavily in new talent (like the former "Good Morning America" weather anchor Sam Champion) and technology for television programs. For several days leading up to the Monday night contract deadline, the channel asserted that a blackout would be detrimental to the safety of DirecTV (DTV, Fortune 500) customers because it would leave them without the channel's severe weather coverage.

DirecTV was apparently unpersuaded, because it dropped the channel at midnight and put a small competitor, WeatherNation, in its place.

"The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage -- the weather belongs to everyone," DirecTV chief content officer Dan York said in a statement.

These feuds are usually about the cost of channels. In this case, the Weather Channel is asking for a slight increase; DirecTV is trying to force the channel to accept a decrease. York indicated that DirecTV would try to restore the channel at "the right value;" in the meantime, now that it's been removed, the Weather Channel is trying to convince DirecTV subscribers to switch to another television service. David Clark, the channel's president, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that "there are NO discussions happening" with DirecTV and that the channel "is off permanently."

One of the dynamics in this dispute is the availability of weather information. The Weather Channel's parent company, called the Weather Company, has been a leader on the web, with a hugely popular site and forecast app. "Is it going to rain today?" is a question often better answered by a smart phone app, which is always on, than a newscast, which may be in a commercial break when a viewer is deciding whether to carry an umbrella out the door.

The Weather Channel knows this, of course, so it has tried scheduling some reality TV shows during quiet weather periods, and it has emphasized field reporters who are out in the elements during busy periods.

Other cable channels that face fresh competition from the Internet -- including CNN -- have also tried to add unique programming in recent years so that they're not known only for commoditized news or information. Fox News Channel and MSNBC have emphasized point-of-view programming. CNN has featured documentary series like "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown."

Barry Parr, a media analyst for Outsell, said he was wary of generalizations about the commodity nature of news coverage.

"Breaking news is a commodity, but if your TV news coverage is a commodity, you're doing it wrong," Parr said. "Weather information, however, couldn't be more of a commodity."

He suggested that DirecTV's decision to drop the Weather Channel "could be a signal to future negotiating partners. We're entering a world where pay TV fees are a zero-sum game. Pay TV operators are not going to be able to increase much, if at all. So, the Weather Channel may be a cheap way to signal a desire to draw the line."

The Weather Channel, for its part, sharply criticized DirecTV's decision to put the upstart WeatherNation channel in its place, calling it "a cheap startup that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, no weather experts ... and no experience in severe weather emergencies."

David Kenny, the head of the Weather Channel, added in a statement that "I am hopeful DirecTV will come to their senses soon and will not force its customers to change carriers to stay safe and informed."

One need not have a degree in either meteorology or marketing to know what the bottom line of all this brouhaha.

The bottom line.

The Weather Channel wants to raise the rent.

DirectTV wants to pay less rent.

The Weather Channel says that ain't happenin'

DirectTV has served an eviction notice.

Easy peesy, no more upcoming forecast teasy.

That's not, though, what today's episode (blogisode?) is about.

It's about art.

That art hidden inside the art kind of art.

For what seems like a long time now, I've been a member of the Truth To Power In The Form Of The Emperor Club.

Named, satirically (and, obviously, personally) after the classic children's tale, The Emperor's New Clothes.

In which a vain Emperor of a mythical kingdom is duped by a very clever young tailor into spending muy drachmas on a royal robe made of an amazing, and stunning, new silk...a silk so exquisite and fine that each thread is actually invisible to the naked eye...even when spun into said royal robe, the silk remains so exquisite and fine that the robe, itself, is invisible to the naked eye.

Which, correspondingly, means that said Emperor struts around his mythical kingdom as his subjects gather all together to witness His Vainness in the altogether.

Think Miley Cyrus and replace the foam finger with a scepter of some sort.

Said subjects, meanwhile, wisely fearing for their breathing rights, cheer the Emp as he bears witness to the tailor's fashion genius (or bares witness, actually) and keep muy silent about the obvious abundance of what surely must qualify as Seinfeld-esque bad naked in front of them.

Save, of course, for one delightfully, and predictably, innocent child who points out to all around that all of the Emperor is showing all around.

Even more predictably, though, those standing all around, awkwardly, but, purposefully, turn a deaf ear to what even a blind eye could confirm.

As they continue giving the Emperor a measure of outward adulation that defies both logic and common sense.

Think Kim and Kanye and add a cobblestone street or two.

Meanwhile, back at the club.

The primary drama that both the Weather Channel and DirectTV are presenting here is financial.

But the broadcast industry affecting subplot has to do less with pocket change than it does changing times.

"News, weather and financial information are so widely available online, it's very cannibalistic to these genres," said Derek Baine, a senior analyst for SNL Kagan.

The advent and advance of "personal tech" technology in the form of smart phones, tablets, pads, et al has changed, and is continuing to change, the face of informational exchange.

Put less verbosely...

We don't need to watch TV anymore.

Anything, and everything, that we can find on the television can be found in, or on, our smartphones, our tablets, our pads, et al.


Every thing.

That includes, by the way, music.

Which brings us around to...


Which brings us around to the Emperor.

Known, like, say, Santa or Satan, by a number of different names.

Clear Channel.



But even the smaller, more "locally owned" stations and/or clusters are, all too often, continuing, or attempting, to do business as usual, to strut their stuff cloaked in the exquisite and fine threads of tradition and conventional wisdom and old fashioned values.

Indulging, in a manner of speaking, in a vanity.

That what was once in fashion is now, and will always be, in fashion.

What was once needed is now, and will always be, needed.

What was in demand, even popular once is now, and will always be, in demand, even popular.

While the lights on the station's studio boards grow a little dimmer each day.

From the electricity no longer flowing as freely.

For lack of the advertising dollars that paid the bill.

While the emperor(s) parade proudly through the kingdom, nodding beatifically, and announcing, to one and all, that they are "live" and they are "local".

And turning their own deaf ears to what even the blindest of eyes could confirm.

The subjects nod respectfully as the parade passes by.

And then lower their eyes as they return to gather the latest news, weather, sports, music and entertainment available.

From the little pad in their outstretched hands.

There's a message hidden inside the painting of two companies locking horns over TV rights.

And while hope remains that the blind shall see...

And the deaf may hear....

So far, not so much.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"...And What's All This 'And The Award Goes To' Crap?....I'm A Winner, Baby, A Winner!..."

Today's fun riddle.
What fades faster than the colors in that silk screened T shirt they assured you was colorfast?
Stand by.
Meanwhile, a nice piece, re' the Golden Globes written by Gene Seymour.
Editor's note: Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post.
(CNN) -- So what did we learn at Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards? First off, we learned that sketch comedians are so much better at giving acceptance speeches than rock stars, screenwriters and actors who've won Oscars and Emmys for dramatic roles. "Who knew?" as Andy Samberg put it when he delivered one of the evening's most compact acceptances, for best lead actor in a TV comedy or musical in Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (a surprise winner for best comedy series, by the way.)

We also learned that actresses say the darnedest things on TV when they're drinking a lot. (What was that Cate Blanchett said about Judy Garland and barbiturates when she got the Globe for best actress in a drama in "Blue Jasmine"?)
One trusts that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the awards, has also learned that when you nominate somebody four times for a Golden Globe over four decades without giving her one, you'd better be prepared for retributive pain when you finally come through. Though I have to admit that as the ceremonies trudged along, part of me was hoping Jacqueline Bissett, who finally won a Globe for best supporting actress in a TV movie, miniseries or series as a lonely dowager in "Dancing on the Edge," would get called back for more ragged stream-of-consciousness and disregard for decorum.
The authenticity of her speech, which included a bleeped expletive, somehow burst through the ceremony's glitz -- and, at 69, she still made for a gorgeous-looking train wreck.
But did we learn for sure who's going to win the Academy Awards on March 2? Not really.
It's true that Blanchett came away as big a favorite in her category as she was before the pipes burst earlier that night, flooding the red carpet. But nothing short of a tsunami will stop her appointment with the best actress Oscar for her rendering of a shattered socialite.

The rest are not so clear. "12 Years a Slave" won the best drama Globe, matching most advance expectations. But it didn't win as many Globes as the best comedy or musical winner, "American Hustle." Both Amy Adams' win for best actress in a comedy or musical (which was mildly unexpected) and Jennifer Lawrence's win for best supporting actress (which wasn't) seemed to boost "Hustle's" profile in the Oscar race. But both "Hustle's" director, David O. Russell, and "Slave's" director, Steve McQueen, lost the best director race to Alfonso Cuaron for his orchestration of the harrowing "Gravity."
Let's face facts: Though some insist on seeing the Globes as an Oscar tip sheet, you can't easily align awards that split their categories between comedy and drama with those that don't. Period.
There have been some years where a Globe drama winner gets the best picture Oscar (2001's "A Beautiful Mind") and the comedy-musical winner doesn't ("Moulin Rouge!"). Then there are those years when the opposite is true. (1998, when "Shakespeare in Love" won best picture while "Saving Private Ryan" didn't). And then, too, there are those years when neither of the Globe winners is in the best picture winner at the Oscars (1992, when "The Silence of the Lambs" bested both "Bugsy" and "Beauty and the Beast," and 1993, when both "Scent of a Woman" and "The Player" lost to "Unforgiven," and 1991, when ... and we could go on and on ...).
So as usual, we're left at the end of another Golden Globes show wondering, what exactly was the point? That is, besides the comedy factor, both intended (hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who didn't have nearly as much to do this year as last) and unintended.
Maybe it's best to look at the Globes less as tea leaves or portents for future awards and more as shiny paper for the global village to unwrap every January as the true beginning of Hollywood's ritual of self-congratulation.
The various film critics awards are (for the most part, anyway) more measured and thoughtful signals as to what will be taken seriously between holiday openings and Oscar night. But the Globes are when the moms, mall rats and reality-show audiences begin noticing what the more serious and solemn movies are doing with themselves as their makers and actors campaign for support from the Academy voters.
You can downgrade their importance or dismiss their results as much as you like. But the Golden Globes are, like it or not, an Occasion-with-a-capital-O, much like weddings, Thanksgiving and other rituals that often provoke sentiment and warmth -- and slavishness and inappropriate behavior. So wait for the trade awards to get their results out and hope that whomever's in charge of these awards doesn't take anything Bissett says too seriously.
Comedy, schmomedy.
You want funny?
How about human nature?
Human nature that comes in the form of the paradox that is (are?) the annual awards shows.
Ask anyone you encounter today to be cross their heart honest as they tell you if they really give a flyin' farkus about who wins or "all the people who made this possible" when they do win.
Cross the heart honesty will, with rare exception, come in the form of "pshh-no".
Pretty much everyone (excepting those who still can't understand why the Kardashians haven't yet won a Peabody) recognize
(to the tune of "Surrey With The Fringe On Top)
 the Globes and the SAG's and the Oscars and the Emmys
 the CMA's, the ACM's, the People's Choice and Grammies
as, for the most part, little more than opulent, dare we say decadent, spectacles of self congratulations having very little to actually do with any real accomplishment beyond the winning of the award in an opulent and decadent spectacle of self congratulations.
And pretty much everyone (excepting those who still can't understand why Kanye West hasn't yet been nominated for a Pulitzer) wouldn't miss any, or all, of them were they to vanish and be replaced on their respective broadcast nights by an "encore presentation" of the "Save Benson" trilogy on Law and Order SVU.
Even those who religiously watch said award shows, tweet and FB frequently and furiously as they are going down (or being offered up, depending on your glass half full predilections) and cop to the one size fits all argument that, whatever else they are or aren't, the awards shows are, if nothing else, a few hours of mindless entertainment doing no one no harm.
Double negatives notwithstanding.
Simply put, most people couldn't care less.
The paradox, though?
Ah, the paradox.
Human nature, at it's witty best, illustrating very clearly that all of us, yes, Griselda, all of us who think the awards shows and, by association, the awards themselves, are trite, trivial vanity exercises to which we give no more weight or life importance than we give, well, the awards shows and, by association, the awards themselves delay less than a nano-second in delivering the good news to family, friends and peers when we are chosen for any honor bestowed upon us by any one for any thing at any time.
Everything, and anything, from Employee of the Month to Miss Topeka Suburbs Potting Soil Princess.
And all accolades in between.
Yeah, there's a little double standard thing that comes to mind. 
Yet, it's really okay.
At least in the opinion of this humble, multiple ADDY award, Georgia Association of Broadcasters Award winning, Grammy nominated songwriter and number one rated broadcaster.  
Because it's not about praise.
It's about perspective.
Which brings us back to the original fun riddle.
What fades faster than the colors in that silk screened T shirt they assured you was colorfast?
Our memory of who won what award at which most recent of that particular award's award show.
While, at the same time, possessed of a memory of our own accomplishment that would put flypaper to shame.
Pop quiz.
And, please, honor system, do it without the Google.
Name any three of last year's Oscar winners.
Oh, sorry, time's up.
Now, name any award or accolade that you received when you were in grade school.
We have a winner.
And we're happy to be some of the people who made it all possible.