The Galaxy Gang Welcomes You!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

 MAY 2022


This month we invite all the members of our wonderful Galaxy audience to participate in a fun reminiscence of classic film, TV and music videos.  One of the most interesting features in the aforementioned media venues is the cameo -- i.e., a brief appearance of a well-known person within the tapestry of the story.  In many instances, cameos are not featured in the credits and so it becomes a treasure hunt in identifying famous or favorite people that are essentially faces in the crowd!

Here is a sample of notable cameos.  Perhaps one of the most famous was the recurring cameos by film director Alfred Hitchcock in 40 out of his 54 classic films from the late 1920s to the mid 1970s.  Often Hitchcock would be spotted in a crowd scene near the beginning of his many films and this was viewed as his "signature" or "watermark" for his artistic directorial work.  This made for heightened audience interest right from the start as filmgoers would keep sharp lookout for the iconic director whose cameos were so brief that if you happened to take your eyes off the screen for a single moment you would miss him!  One of the most interesting cameos was in the 1944 film "Lifeboat" (set in World War II).  In such a confined setting, Hitchcock was seen in a newspaper being read by one of the characters while seated in the lifeboat.  Specifically the newspaper showed a before-and-after photo sequence of Hitchcock in an advertisement for a weight-loss program.

Some classic cameos on film are only "heard" but not seen!  Two such instances are in the motion pictures "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949) and "King of Kings" (1961).  "A Letter to Three Wives" tells the story of a woman sending a letter to three women, informing them she has left town with one of their husbands but not specifying which one!  The unseen woman who wrote the titular letter is a constant presence throughout the film because of her occasional narration of key events in the story, including the surprise but ultimately satisfying ending.  This "voice" cameo was uncredited but was performed by Celeste Holm.  Similarly, the Biblical epic "King of Kings" was narrated by none other than Orson Welles.  His deep, sonorous voice, while familiar to one and all, was also uncredited.  But it played a noteworthy part in heightening the illuminating story on the life and ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Baby boomers who watched the "Batman" TV series (1966-68) will fondly recall the window cameos in which very famous people would have brief conversations with the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder as they would scale up the side of tall apartment buildings.  There were 14 such window cameos that included such luminaries as Sammy Davis Jr, Dick Clark, Don Ho and Edward G. Robinson.

For those who remember "Friday Night Music Videos" in the 1980s, there is the official Bruce Springsteen "Dancing in the Dark" video of the Boss performing at a 1984 concert in St Paul, MN.  In this truly amazing video -- noted for the very high energy level by Springsteen, his bandmates and the audience -- a 20 year old Courtney Cox (a full decade before her iconic Monica role in the 1990s TV series "Friends") is first seen standing in the front row right up against the stage fully involved with the concert and then in the closing sequence is brought up on stage by Springsteen to dance with the Boss in what is now regarded as a scripted spontaneous event!

What are your favorite cameos?  What made them so special or memorable to you and your loved ones?  We invite you to share them by emailing us directly through the GNN website or posting to the GNN FACEBOOK page (and "liking" us when doing so).  If you are looking for a fun way to make binge watching more interesting, using the "cameo" theme is a fun way to revisit favorite films, shows and music videos.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

 APRIL 2022


This month we pay tribute to Dame Jane Goodall, DBE, as she celebrates her 88th birthday (April 3).  Dr Goodall is a familiar if not lifelong presence in the consciousness of baby boomers who came of age while watching her pioneering work in primatology and anthropology unfold in real time through the National Geographic media platforms from the mid-1960s to the present day!  Goodall is regarded as the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees.  This United Kingdom born scientist who earned her University of Cambridge doctorate in Ethology (study of animal behavior) has helped raise awareness and understanding of conservation, sustainability and ethical treatment of animals.  Her pioneering work showed that similarities between humans and chimpanzees were evident in emotion, intelligence as well as social and family relationships.  Jane Goodall's trailblazing career has not only expanded the boundaries of science but has opened up new pathways (or in corporate business terms - broken the glass ceiling) so that the once male-dominated fields of primatology and anthropology are now nearly evenly made up of both men and women.  In sum, she has been a role model of professional excellence, dignity, integrity and dedication.

Most baby boomers first became acquainted with Jane Goodall through the National Geographic publications (School Bulletin for young readers and its adult mainstream National Geographic Magazine) and most notably, via network TV, the 1965 primetime National Geographic Society special "Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees."  In these venues, a worldwide audience witnessed how Goodall gave personal names to each of the chimpanzees instead of numbers, as she observed them to have unique and individual personalities - a rather unconventional idea at that time!  She recorded peaceful, affectionate behavior along with an aggressive side to chimpanzee nature.

In the decades that have followed, Dr Goodall has not only helped to raise awareness and understanding of the animal kingdom, but her humanitarian and environmental work has helped inspire public support for pursuance of scientific research as a career path.  Her title of "Dame" is associated with the DBE award (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) which reflects her scientific contributions along with public service via charitable organizations and research institutions.

A couple of fun facts or trivia concerning the inspired life of Jane Goodall:  First, her career benefited enormously from the mentorship she received from the famed paleoanthropologist Dr Louis Leakey. Goodall worked directly for Dr Leakey, who later sent her to various parts of Africa to do field research and in between pursue academic study with the leading authorities of the day.  Dr Leakey also helped raise funds to help Goodall with her scientific research.  A second fun fact shows that Jane Goodall has a good sense of humor.  The famed cartoonist Gary Larson featured two chimpanzees grooming each other in his "Far Side" comic strip and when one discovered a blonde hair on the other, inquired "Conducting a little more 'research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?"  As Dr Goodall was in Africa when that cartoon was published, the Jane Goodall Institute thought it was in bad taste, describing it as an "atrocity" and threatening legal action.  When Goodall returned from her travels and saw the cartoon, she thought it was amusing and stopped the Institute's legal action!  In Larson's Far Side Gallery 5, Goodall wrote the preface and praised his work while detailing her perspective on the controversy!

One more fun fact, and this occurred very recently (March 3, 2022) as The Lego Group -- in honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day -- issued set number 40530 "A Jane Goodall Tribute" that depicts a Jane Goodall minifigure with three chimpanzees in an African forest!  In appreciation for her groundbreaking work that has promoted a better understanding of our world, please join us in wishing Jane Goodall a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY ... and many more!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

MARCH 2022

March Madness - Remembering Jim Valvano
"Don't Give Up...Don't Ever Give Up"

Every year during the month of March, the entire nation seems immersed in an ongoing conversation regarding "bracketology" -- an exercise in which sports fans from the most serious to the most casual are busy filling out their matrix in guessing which collegiate basketball team will win the annual NCAA College Basketball National Championship.  In previous GNN Blogs we have celebrated touchstone teams (e.g.,Texas Western Miners who won the 1966 national title as the first team to start five African-American players in a title game) and amazing coaches (e.g., UCLA's head coach John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood who piloted the Bruins to 10 national titles in 12 years).  But this year we remember a very special man (appropriately born in the month of March) whose legacy transcends the basketball court: Jim Valvano.

James Thomas Anthony Valvano (March 10, 1946 - April 28, 1993), nicknamed Jimmy V, had a successful head coaching career with various schools, most notably with North Carolina State University.  As the head coach of the NC State Wolfpack, Valvano led his team in 1983 to perhaps the most surprising national championship in NCAA tournament history.  The Wolfpack qualified for the NCAA Tourney, but with a 3rd place finish in its conference were not favored to advance very far.  However, big things were in store for Valvano's squad as they "survived and advanced" -- (a phrase coined by Valvano himself) -- by registering a double overtime victory against Pepperdine in the first round, and then riding that momentum all the way into the Finals where the Wolfpack would be matched against the heavily-favored Houston Cougars (who were top-ranked nationally and a #1 seed).  The Wolfpack (ranked 16th nationally and a #6 seed) became the champion of underdogs by scoring a last second basket as time expired to win 54-52.

In the moments immediately following this surprising victory, Valvano was immortalized in sports video history as he was shown running around the court looking for somebody to hug while celebrating the Wolfpack's improbable national title.  This video clip is always shown during "March Madness" as one of the tournament's most celebrated moments as it captures the unbridled joy of triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.  Much has been written about Valvano's inspirational leadership and the deep personal relationship he established with his players during that amazing championship run, and we commend the GNN audience to read these wonderful books to learn more.  For those who enjoy video programs, there is the ESPN "Survive and Advance" documentary on Valvano and the NC State 1983 NCAA championship as part of the network's 30 for 30 - Volume II anthology series.

While these celebrated coaching and athletic accomplishments are noteworthy of commemoration, there is much, much more to the life of Jim Valvano.  Nearly 30 years after his passing, Valvano's legacy continues to inspire millions of people because of the courage and inspiration he demonstrated in the public eye while terminally ill with cancer.  During this heroic battle, Valvano affirmed the timeless values of love, hope and persistence with the public rallying cry of "Don't give up, don't ever give up."  Several weeks before his passing, Valvano delivered the following remarks while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award, and it is these words that reflect the legacy of an inspired life:

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

In this same speech, Valvano closed by saying that "Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all."

As we get ready for March Madness by filling out our brackets, let's also take a moment to celebrate the March birthday of Jim Valvano while remembering an inspired life that made him both a hero on and off the basketball court as well as a legend of the game.

Monday, January 31, 2022

                       TRIBUTE TO OUR PRECIOUS MAGGIE

August 12, 2010 – January 25, 2022


By Rev Protodeacon George Anthony Haloulakos

We have commended our precious pet Maggie into the loving embrace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We had to alleviate Maggie's suffering from Degenerative Myelopathy – a debilitating illness exactly like ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in our precious pets with the same impact as ALS has on humans. I did a prayer service while assisting the two veterinarians and kissed Maggie more than several times to help her on a heavenward journey. All of this took place at home as we utilized a truly amazing service called PAWS INTO GRACE.

She will be cremated and her cremains will be hand delivered to us in a special urn made of Acacia wood with the inscription:

Our Precious Maggie

Aug 12, 2010 - Jan 25, 2022

We are also getting a special paw print to go with it. Believe it or not, Maggie departed this life at the same hour as Mom & Dad, and three years to the month of my father's passing! In some ways I feel as if I am reliving it all over again. I am so grateful that God placed this special pet in our lives as Maggie impacted so many in the course of her ministry here on Earth. With this in mind, I would like to share lessons I learned from Maggie.

Lead a Christ Centered Life: Maggie lived her life in the way Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ teaches us to be. Each day this Pembroke Welsh Corgi showed love, peace, patience, joy, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. In this way, Maggie exemplified that the love from a pet is a reflection of God's love – it is unconditional!

Bearing One's Burdens While Helping Others: Maggie was a registered service animal for more than 10 years and impacted the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people in the venues she served. She did this despite having to endure major hip surgery as a 6-month old puppy and then foot surgery when she was 3-years old. Maggie's own experience with health challenges enabled her to establish deep connections with everyone she encountered, even in the most casual circumstances. As a working dog, Maggie was able to give comfort to others as a:

Teaching Assistant at UC San Diego Extension – From 2010 – 2020, Maggie accompanied me to the main campus and satellite learning centers four days a week. For four to six hours each of those days she provided comfort to students both in and out of the classroom. During breaks from class we would walk about campus drawing crowds of students as Maggie would allow everyone to give hugs, pets and kisses plus posing for lots of pictures that ended up in multiple social media networks.

Therapy Dog at Le Bleu Chateau Assisted Living & Memory Care Center – From 2011 - 2018, Maggie helped minister to the elderly, memory care and those afflicted with major illnesses such as cancer patients. Maggie provided a steadfast, vigilant presence to alleviate the loneliness and isolation of those stricken with such conditions. In this same capacity Maggie helped my parents into that Long Day's Journey Into Night and thereby enabled yours truly (along with my wife Sharon) to fulfill the sacred duties associated with such a monumental task.

Grief Comfort at Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills: Maggie was a regular at Forest Lawn from 2018 – early 2020. Maggie was involved with every aspect associated with the passing of Mom and Dad including keeping vigil at the graveside services for both. She not only provided grief comfort to those in attendance for those memorial services, but on recurring visits to Forest Lawn Maggie would allow everyone (staff, visitors, clients, et al) to give hugs and pets while receiving kisses, thereby assuaging the grief of all those she encountered.

Grace and Composure in the Face of Adversity: In her final weeks here on Earth, Maggie found comfort and joy in receiving laser treatment and water therapy to help her live her Best Possible Life. At our home Maggie was able to enjoy beautiful sunsets each day and stargazing at night while surrounded by love and her favorite toys. As a man of faith I believe Maggie was already planning if not contemplating the next phase of her journey. We had placed her on home hospice care the week prior to her peaceful departure from this life.

Maggie completed her mission here on Earth with dignity and integrity. Our precious Maggie is now reunited with Mom and Dad while in the loving embrace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, forever our furry angel.