Wednesday, October 28, 2009


At approximately 11:30AM EDT, this morning (10/28/09,) the first, launch vehicle in a new generation of sophisticated and technologically advanced spacecraft, blasted skyward, scorching the crystal blue, Florida sky with white-hot flame.

The ARES X-1, a 328 foot high, multi-stage rocket, designed by NASA as the first step in a plan to carry humans back to the Moon,and eventually to Mars,had a successful test flight. Now, if the Federal government approves funding for the Orion Program, the door is open for astronauts to explore neighboring planets.

No matter what your political position on the assets and liabilities of human spaceflight, the electrifying image of this extraordinary vehicle streaking into the heavens is impressive.

Below, we've posted video of the lift-off,as seen LIVE on CNN , and as a companion piece, we've added a NASA computer animation from You TUBE, depicting an ARES X-1 flight. Enjoy!!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


As we write this Tuesday,October 27th edition of KINESCOPE HD, the world's largest rocket sits on a pad at the Kennedy Space Center, under overcast,Florida skies. The night is violently punctuated with lightning.It is humid and the temperature is in the low 80's.It was a day of disappointment for the ARES X-1 launch team. These weather conditions prevented this morning's scheduled launch.

At this moment,The mammoth ARES X-1 , standing 328 feet high,is about eleven hours from lift-off on it's maiden voyage, a test flight to evaluate propulsion and recovery systems. The ARES X-1 is the first product of NASA's Constellation Program. The initiative is creating vehicles that will replace the aging, Space Shuttle fleet , which will be phased out next year.

These test flights will result in a new generation of spacecraft that will carry astronauts back to the Moon in the Orion 1 module. The ARES V, even bigger than the ARES X-1 and the SATURN V that carried people to the moon, is next in view for NASA designers and mission specialists.If this program receives the approval and funding of the Obama Administration and congress , for the first time in human history, ARES launch vehicles will take astronauts to explore Mars.

For baby boomers, the debate over space exploration was vitriolic,vocal,multi-faceted and unresolved.

People argued the benefits versus cost. They fought over investing in present priorities on earth as opposed to the promises of a future voyaging to the stars. There was disagreement as to whether space exploration was a challenge best confronted by a senescent, inquisitive man or a sophisticated, clinical machine.

American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts broke the bonds of Earth's gravity in the 1960's and 1970's, riding aloft on the most technologically advanced vehicles created to date. Like every voyage of discovery, knowledge was gained, lives were lost, curiosity was satisfied and human explorers returned to earth with more questions than were answered on a brief sojourn to a desolate rock in the firmament.

The desire to return to space burns ,in some, with the white hot,intensity of a booster rocket at launch. The fuel which propels it is human curiosity. The internal guidance system is the same sense of adventure that took ancient mariners across uncharted oceans and took two, brave astronauts ,in the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module, to the Sea of Tranquility.

In advance of tomorrow's, planned ARES X-1 launch, we've posted below, two films that chronicle America's first, halting, daring, dangerous steps into space.They provide a kaleidoscopic view of Project Mercury, the quest to put the first American in space Enjoy!!!!!



Thursday, October 22, 2009


In the Genesis of American television , even broadcast behemoths like NBC and CBS weren't true, national networks. While the coaxial cable and microwave relay stations for tv transmission linked the east and west coasts in 1948, there were vast parts of the country that had no access to live video feeds.

As the nascent television industry moved into the 1950's,and into millions of homes, bars and schools, Americans embraced the new medium and made instantstars of pioneering performers like Milton Berle, Lucille Ball and Arthur Godfrey. Manufacturers like RCA, Philco and Admiral struggled to keep up with the public demand for Black and White, TV sets with a 12 inch, diagonally measured screen.

LIVE,television production was centered in New York City,and that created a dearth of studio space. As NBC, CBS, ABC & DuMont rapidly converted radio facilities, Broadway theaters and hotel ballrooms into video stages, local television stations in Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago produced programs that filled network schedules.

Philadelphia was a leading center for network production in this era. NBC's antic, Ernie Kovacs Show and the sci-fi adventure, Atom Squad, were produced in the crowded, hot, basement studios of WPTZ-TV's (now KYW-TV) center city facilities.

Paul Whiteman's Teen Dance Party and , later , American Bandstand were beamed live to the ABC Network from WFIL-TV's (now WPVI-TV) new, but austere, production center in West Philadelphia. That building is now home to a non-profit, community, educational agency and is on the national historic register, thanks, largely, to Dick Clark's, daily, rock and roll rally.

At the sprawling WCAU-TV (still WCAU-TV) broadcast facility in suburban Bala Cynwyd Pennsylvania, television pioneers produced over 20 hours per week of LIVE programming for the CBS Television Network.This included Ed McMahon playing a clown on a weekly, circus spectacular called BIG TOP.

WCAU-TV also mounted an ambitious LIVE, western adventure show called ACTION IN THE AFTERNOON, that aired 5 days a week. Often runaway cattle or horses would bolt from the backlot into busy City Avenue. Just as frequently, a bus or truck could be seen rolling through a scene that was supposed to be set in the Old West. The occasional airplane made appearances in wide, closing shots.

One of the most fascinating and intellectually stimulating, network entries from WCAU-TV was a quiz show produced in association with the University of Pennsylvania, called WHAT IN THE WORLD?. Each Sunday from the early 1950's to 1960, a panel of distinguished anthropologists and archaeologists would be shown rare and ancient artifacts from the University of Pennsylvania's renowned University Museum by host and museum director,Dr. Froelich Rainey.The panel had to identify the object, and explain it's scientific and/or historical significance.

The quiz, itself, was challenging, straightforward and, obviously, smart. For it's entire run, WHAT IN THE WORLD? was consigned to television's , so-called, Sunday intellectual ghetto.

You may wonder why a commercial network,like CBS-TV, which was determined to dominate this mass appeal medium, offered a show that was so cerebral and arcane?

In TV's tender years,when a new television set could cost as much as a used car, most set owners were affluent. Many viewers, who were early adopters of this costly and vibrant video technology, were also well educated and erudite.

The opening titles were a bit ominous, but the production values were formidable for the time.Below , from the PENNMUSEUM YOU TUBE SITE,are posted three, full episodes of WHAT IN THE WORLD? ENJOY!!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


In 1959, across the USA, many people were driving new, chrome laden Cadillac's and Chrysler's styled with big,flowing tail fins. Some dreamed of owning a 21 inch, RCA Victor, console, COLOR-TV in a cherry wood cabinet. At NASA's facility in Cape Canaveral , Florida, a handful of heroes-in-waiting were volunteering for the opportunity to ride a rocket to the moon.

In 1959,Dobie Gillis was America's favorite, fictional teenager. A sweet and sensitive guy, Dobie worked in his parent's neighborhood grocery store, and truly craved a girl he could call his own. He confronted puberty's, manifold challenges with his best bud,a work-averse acolyte of the beat generation named Maynard.

Each week, Dobie sojourned to the park , stood in front of Rodan's The Thinker, and pondered ,aloud to his audience,the great mysteries of life. Often, he evidenced worldly wonder and asked ,"whither are we drifting?" Sometimes, he would , in response to romance denied, simply whimper,"How can I get a date with that gorgeous Thalia Meninger?"

There was one girl who wanted Dobie now and forever. But, alas, the love starved lad always ran from comely,classmate Zelda Gilroy, the brainy bobbysoxer who was dopey for Dobie.

Dobie was a solid citizen.Optimism was Dobie's opiate. He was high on High School.This sensitive, responsible lad, later, went to college and even joined the Army.Dobie lived in an America that had yet to send astronauts to the Moon or fighting troops to Viet Nam. Dobie dreamed of the decade ahead, with the promise of a new and improved,fast acting, fat free, Atomic powered future.

Dobie's reign as America's, rave fave, teen endured until Richie Cunningham rocked and rolled onto the scene , followed by The Fonz, in 1974.

Created by prolific, script-smith Max Shulman, THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, was first a 1953 MGM film, starring Bobby Van. The title was later abbreviated to simply, DOBIE GILLIS, for syndication and the show was one of CBS-TV's finest attempts at humanizing the All-American, high school student.

In that era, network television tended to portray teens as juvenile delinquents and motorcycle maniacs. While Dobie made every emotional misstep and misguided move that a 16 year old could conjure as he entered a new, generational platoon in the battle of the sexes, he was pure of heart and honorable in intent.This sitcom did galvanize two disparate social strata: Parents and teens watched DOBIE together.

Lightly played with adolescent naivete, Stridex-grade insecurity,and a deft touch of Jack Benny bluster by Dwayne Hickman,Dobie Gillis was everyman's, teenaged,kid next door. Hickman, who went on to a fulfilling career behind the camera in television production, was supported on the small screen bythe late, Bob Denver, in a pre -Gilligan role, as Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs and by Sheila James Kuehl, now a politician and activist,who portrayed Zelda.

Sixties sex-kitten, Tuesday Weld, portrayed Thalia Meninger, the obtuse object of Dobie's unrequited affection. A young Warren Beatty was Thalia's steady, millionaire Milton Armitage. Stephen Franken served as Dobie's weekly nemesis in residence, Chatsworth Osborne Jr.

The 30 minute, B&W sitcom enjoyed a four year run on the Tiffany Network from 1959 to 1963.Produced by veteran, show-runner Martin Manulus with Rod Amateau, a master of the 1950's,sitcom genre, the show had a veneer of hipness that has faded to quaint, kitsch when viewed through the prism of TV LAND reruns, some five decades later.

DOBIE did give viewers insight to the teenage condition at the threshold of the 1960's, and a look at the space-age advances that were supposed to make life easier and more enjoyable, every day.

In the clip below, Dobie is confronted with a new and portable technology, when his buddy Maynard shows-up in class with a newly purchased, transistor radio. It was the I-POD equivalent for the Pepsi Generation, and while Dobie tuned-in, he was too wholesome and upstanding to ever turn-on or drop-out. Enjoy!!!!!

As a bonus, here is a clip showcasing the animated, opening titles to DOBIE and the brassy, bubbly theme song. Enjoy!!!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Before sophisticated actress and model, Barbara Feldon, played sultry, Secret Agent 99 on NBC-TV's classic, sixties spy spoof, GET SMART , she was the sensuous, TV spokeswoman for a line of men's hair care products.

Feldon, who co-starred with stand-up comedian Don Adams in the satiric and silly Mel Brooks/Buck Henry sitcom, gained notoriety in B&W commercials for TOP BRASS hair dressing,where she demurely purred a cosmetic challenge to men described as lions and tigers (oh,my:) with untamed hair.

This launched Feldon into a run of guest appearances on high-profile, network programs like EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE, SLATTERY'S PEOPLE and a prominent role as one of the weekly damsels in distress on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E..

The move from U.N.C.L.E.'s Manhattan, espionage enclave to CONTROL's Washington DC, secret, spy center was a natural and gracious transition for the agile actress who portrayed Agent 99 from 1965 to 1970.

The :60, TOP BRASS spot , which was a machination of real-life, 1960's MAD MEN, was decried by some as sexist, while others saw it as one of the first instances in which a woman on television was portrayed as feminine and forceful in engaging male viewers.

You make the call, after watching the commercial , below. Enjoy!!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Ernie Kovacs was an American, comedic original and a video virtuoso. The multi-talented Edie Adams was both his Mrs.and his muse.

In the summer of 1956 ,as was network practice in the halcyon days of the medium, the kinetic Kovacs headlined an NBC-TV variety show that replaced CAESAR'S HOUR, while Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner and company were on a warm weather hiatus.

THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW leveraged Kovacs unique understanding of television's ability to deliver visceral humor. The 30 minute, B&W show was filled with vibrant sight gags that propelled the program along, with ample portions of low humor at high velocity.

Below is a clip showcasing the comic "blackouts" the opened each episode. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Peter Gunn, private eye, was as cool as a dry martini on a torrid, summer night.

He was not your grandfather's, film noir gumshoe.

As played by the debonair Craig Stevens, Peter Gunn was almost Kennedy-esque in his Ivy League carriage and cultured comportment. He was the kind of sophisticated operator that you would expect to find in Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine ,rather than a Dasheill Hamett novel.

Gunn was ironic, intelligent and anathema to any thug that crossed him or hurt his friends.If danger was his profession ,loyalty was his predilection.

NBC-TV debuted Blake Edwards production of Peter Gunn on September 22, 1958 and it was an instant hit with critics and viewers. The sparse, tightly written, 30 minute adventures of the suave, urban knight were underscored with a groundbreaking, jazz soundtrack from virtuoso composer Henry Mancini.The pulsating theme song went right to the top of the pop music charts.

Besides Stevens, who played Gunn with a light touch of Cary Grant's breezy bemusement,the ensemble cast included voluptuous Lola Albright as his primary love interest, a sultry singer named Edie Hart. Herschel Bernardi was the long-suffering Lt. Jacoby, Gunn's confidant. Over the course of the series, both Hope Emerson and Minerva Urecal played, Mother, the earthy owner of Pete's favorite hang-out, a jazz bar called Mother's.

Superlative producer Blake Edwards went on to bring the PINK PANTHER film series to big screens around the world in the Mid-1960's.In 1967, Edwards brought Stevens back to reprise the role of the wry private eye for a big screen version of the series.Years later, Peter Strauss was cast as a sanitized version of PETER GUNN in an abortive, ABC-TV, pilot film that did not make the network schedule.

Edwards deft touch in framing character,dialog and story line set PETER GUNN apart from traditonal, TV crime dramas.Creative casting allowed the series to showcase New York stage actor Jack Weston, TV stalwart Gavin MacLeod and comic improviser Shelley Berman on the home screen.

While shot on the Universal back-lot, the show radiated the ambiance of the city by night. The B&W series ran for two seasons on the peacock network and then moved to ABC-TV for a final flight, after producing 114 intricate adventures of this modern-day Paladin.

Below, from the Wes Channel, YOU TUBE site, are three clips that comprise the debut episode of Peter Gunn , entitled THE KILL. Enjoy!!!!

As a bonus, from the Ostmusicmix, YOU TUBE site, here is the PETER GUNN theme, as composed by Henry Mancini. Enjoy!!!!!