Wednesday, November 29, 2023


- Good Enough Really Is Good Enough! -
By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos

For Baby Boomers who completed their schooling and embarked on their respective career paths in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the world was vastly different.  There were no mobile phones or Internet access for mass markets.  Personal computers (PCs) were in the very early stages of being introduced into the workplace.  No DVDs or streaming, but video cassette tapes, recorders and players were starting to emerge as "must have" consumer products.  This segment of Baby Boomers were fully immersed into carving out significant corporate careers, and then following up with creating their own business enterprises or reinventing themselves several times over by starting entirely new professional and personal pursuits while building households, raising families and caring for aging loved ones.  Now forty years later, we are a generation that has helped usher our parents into that "long day's journey into night," have seen children grow up and move on with their own lives while we now approach the end of our careers and our young selves are gone forever.  In fulfilling this lifetime journey, much was forsaken to climb the ladder of success.  But now a different reality awaits: what do we do now?  It is this theme that is addressed in this special Blog and an accompanying GNN podcast.

This month, Galaxy Nostalgia Network features a podcast in which we interview retired attorney and award-winning businesswoman Laura Black, who has authored a clear, concise and compelling autobiography titled Climbing Down the Ladder: A Journey to a Different Kind of Happy.  Through the prism of Laura's life and career, we are able to come to terms with such questions as just who are we without a business card?  In this hour long podcast, we are able to gain some keen insights from Climbing Down the Ladder that will certainly elicit interest in wanting to learn more.

As one who read this book and was given the honor to lead this interview, I can fully attest that Laura's story becomes your story as the reader learns that the things we leave behind or cast aside to more rapidly ascend the ladder of success are the very things one will need when stepping back or climbing down the ladder as one wraps up a career and transitioning to a new cycle in life.  The absence of psycho-babble and biz-speak while offering sobering insights and life lessons makes this a must read for anyone who has spent much of their life focused on accomplishment that now faces the daunting task of charting a new path with entirely different rules of engagement.  The takeaway or realization from Climbing Down the Ladder that good enough really is good enough makes this a worthwhile read.  Please join us for this very special podcast featuring our interview with this truly extraordinary person, retired attorney and award-winning businesswoman Laura Black.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

November 22, 1963

On Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas while riding in a motorcade. The country was plunged into grief and turmoil as people grappled with the reality of the tragedy and the painful loss of the nation's president.  Everyone who was of reasoning age on that date remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard news of the tragedy.  On this, the 60th anniversary of the untimely passing of President Kennedy, we pause to remember him, and that painful day. Margaret Sizemore Clark, Gil Tisnado, and Mike Bragg share memories of that day, and how it impacted them.  
Margaret Sizemore Clark
    For those of us old enough to remember this date, it was one that would forever change our world.
    I was 9 years old on this date.  I went to school just like I did any other day…except it was not to be like any other day.  We were out at recess playing kickball when the bell rang and my teacher, Miss Kerr, came to the playground to get us.  I don’t remember her being upset and I don’t remember how she broke the news to us, but I remember the effect of that news.
    The previous June President Kennedy had come to our town, China Lake, CA and the Naval Ordinance Test Station.  “The Base” as we called it, was home to a laboratory and testing facility for the Navy and was chiefly tasked with developing new weapons.  Their most recent accomplishment, the Sidewinder missile, was a major development, and as Commander-in-Chief, President Kennedy decided to come to the base for a demonstration of the missile’s capabilities.  As you can imagine, the news that the President of the United States was coming to the base was unimaginably exciting!
    The day of the President’s visit his jet, Air Force One, landed on the tarmac at the Naval Air Facility.  Bleachers had been erected to hold the dignitaries and the crowds that planned to attend.  I can remember being part of the throng that had gathered near the laboratory, where my father’s office was located.  It was a sea of people, but the President got out of his limousine and walked along the edges of the crowd shaking hands and nodding and smiling.  After he toured the lab, he exited out the main entrance, directly in front of where my father was standing before a replica of the Sidewinder missile.  It was an incredible day.
    On November 22 of that year, we all heard the news that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  We went home from school to watch the repeat of the tape that recorded the fateful drive through Dealey Plaza; we witnessed the sheer panic and confusion of the onlookers as the shots rang out. We saw Mrs. Kennedy’s reaction to her husband’s injury, and her blood-stained suit.  The network played the scene over and over and every time it ended with Walter Cronkite’s announcement, “President Kennedy died at 1 PM Central Standard Time”.  Throughout the afternoon we were glued to our TV set, being updated with what was happening in Dallas.  What stands out in my mind was the arrival of the ambulance that carried the President’s body pulling up to Air Force One.  The casket was put on a scissor-like apparatus and lifted to the cargo hold.  That made it real.  There was no mistake.  Death is something kids don’t usually encounter, but there it was in all its horrible reality, and it was scary.  We had just seen the President alive, smiling, shaking some of our hands not six months ago!  How could this have happened?  Mom and Dad watched with us, but no one said anything.  Nothing could make the confusion, shock, and sadness go away.
    The next few days were surreal: we watched as Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.  We watched the funeral and then the funeral procession, hearing drums beat a solitary cadence. The Kennedy family and other dignitaries walked those long blocks to Arlington Cemetery.  The horses’ hooves clip-clopped but the saddle carried no rider, just a pair of boots placed backwards  in the stirrups.  No one said a word. The world changed forever for me that day; Unfortunately, it was just the first of so many things I would have to adjust to and try to make sense of. For my generation, that single event robbed us of our innocence, and opened our eyes to the real world.  It was not the safe world we had lived in just days ago. 
My father watching President Kennedy pass by. 
A couple of men in suits

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Gil Tisnado
Everyone from my generation remembers exactly where he or she was when John Kennedy was shot. I was attending St. Augustine School in San Diego. It was during my ninth grade English class with Father Wasco that it was announced over the loud speaker that the President was shot. We were told to report to the gym for a special Mass. During Mass, the priest indicated that Kennedy had died, and even though it was mid-morning, we were dismissed immediately. We were instructed to go home to pray for him and for our nation.

The bus ride on bustling University Avenue was about six miles. It was a warm fall day and all the bus windows were open. I remember seeing adults on the sidewalks outside storefronts openly crying. I knew it had to be really serious if the adults were crying.

    It just didn’t make any sense to me. After all, JFK was just in San Diego the previous June. As thousands cheered, he rode in an open motorcade from the airport along El Cajon Blvd. to San Diego State to give the commencement address. Since my junior high school was nearby, a school buddy and I walked to San Diego State, snuck in without a ticket, and sat on the ice plant embankment in Aztec Bowl to hear our young president speak. But that was June, and now it was November.

Like many families, we were glued to the TV trying to make sense out of this tragedy. However, at some point, my mom had enough, “That’s it! No more TV. Pack some things. We’re going to Palm Springs.”

    So my mom, my stepdad and I loaded up our car and headed off to Palm Springs. I swam alone endlessly in the motel pool, enjoying my Palm Springs weekend. Although the escape from real-world violence was temporary, since while driving home we heard the news that Jack Ruby had killed JFK’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Once home, we would return to being glued to our small black and white TV, and continue to mourn with the rest of the nation.

Mike Bragg
    I was 10 years old, attending the fourth grade class at Buchanan Street Elementary School, enjoying a Friday lunch hour and playground time. The usual Los Angeles smog had blown away from the Santa Ana “Devil Winds” the night before.
    Sitting at a lunch bench, I thought about the next week’s Thanksgiving feast and yearly family get together as my teacher, Mrs. Hegney ran out of the building and on to the lunch yard. She clasped at a tissue when not dabbling it at her red, tearful eyes.
“The president has been shocked…The president has been shocked!!!I was confused at first, having never seen Mrs. Hegney, or for that matter, any other adult crying..I thought, “What does she mean, the president has been shocked…how could he get SHOCKED?
    I remember other classmates, leaving lunch tables, or running from the playground to gather around Mrs. Hegney to hear what was going on. During that time, our school principal stood at the door to the main hallway, her hands covering her eyes as she shrieked, “SOMEONE SHOT PRESIDENT KENNEDY IN THE HEAD!!!
    Our teacher quickly lead our group of confused or crying 10 year olds back to our classroom, where a school TV on a steel cart flickered in black and white across classroom walls and window blinds…live news coverage switching back and forth between Dallas Texas and New York.

     For most 10-year-old fourth graders as myself, it was difficult comprehend what TV and radio broadcast was reporting.  Arriving home from school a couple of hours later, my brothers and I walked in the door where my mom was closely focused on the screen of our television set, watching Walter Cronkite describe the chaos of Dallas that afternoon.

    Once I felt the safety of being home from school a few hours later, the reality that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated became very real to me. Sixty years later, just as vivid, were the days following the Friday afternoon TV news bulletins and reports from across America and the world. The movie theaters in our neighborhood were unlighted and closed. Los Angeles Top 40 radio stations suspended regular music, and broadcast classical music throughout the weekend.

     On the Sunday morning after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, my mom made pancakes as my dad and I watched live coverage of the transfer from jail of Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. With the shock of Friday’s tragedy still blurred but nonetheless fresh, Dad and I watched in real time as the alleged assassin of JFK was, himself, killed by a gunman in Dallas. 
    As with most American families, our Thanksgiving 1963 was a sad and solemn day.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

How Monday Night Football Transformed Pop Culture

By Rev Protodeacon George A. Haloulakos

Baby Boomers have borne witness to the transformational impact of Monday Night Football (MNF) on Pop Culture.  Believe it or not, MNF was introduced more than 50 years ago (1970) while forever altering mass market TV viewing habits and transforming Pop Culture.  At a time when people spent their evenings watching variety shows, sitcoms, westerns and game shows on a small handful of network TV channels, MNF immediately altered viewer preferences with a then outsized entertainment model that not only crossed from the sports venue into Pop Culture, but created a significantly larger audience that went well beyond the traditional male sports fan who watched NFL football on Sundays.

Here is a sample list of the long lasting impact created by MNF:
> Monday Night Football was aired by ABC, a perennially 3rd ranked national network (behind CBS and NBC) at a time when there were just three national TV networks.  With the newly merged league (the NFL and AFL were now combined under an expanded "NFL" business model) this was a great platform to showcase the expanded offerings among a larger geographic region.  By the end of the 1970s, ABC became the top-rated network as its fortunes paralleled the NFL becoming the nation's number one spectator sport.

> MNF essentially created the voluble, celebrity broadcaster role that is now de rigueur in all sports broadcasting venues.  Howard Cosell was selected for this job.  As the third man in the broadcast booth, Cosell provided a complementary if not entertaining fit to the rather staid, traditional two-person announcing duo format.  Hall of Fame football star Frank Gifford provided the standard play-by-play narration with former NFL quarterback Don Meredith in the analyst role.  In short order, Cosell's bigger than life persona became equally important to the overall entertainment package.  While Gifford adhered to a restrained, serious broadcasting style his analyst partner Meredith provided humorous anecdotes and even sang "the party is over" when the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt.  On a more serious note, Cosell actually created a template that is followed to this day with his 3-minute summary of all the NFL highlights from the Sunday games.  These halftime highlights became a huge drawing card to both the serious and casual fans alike.  While MNF had various high-profile broadcast trios, the Cosell-Gifford-Meredith group is the one that is best remembered.

> With the passage of time, it became commonplace for the broadcast booth to have major TV & motion picture stars along with famous musicians visit and provide guest commentary.  MNF used twice the number of cameras usually employed for broadcasting an NFL game, and use of flashier graphics plus a widely recognizable musical theme to immediately signal the television viewing audience that they were being treated to a big-time special event.  Instant replay was more frequently used to diagram the action, which, in turn, created ongoing discussion and debate among the broadcast crew about what actually happened.  With more camera angles versus the Sunday games shown on CBS and NBC, the ABC viewing audience was able to experience gridiron action up close and personal, with a "you are there" feeling.

> MNF introduced the sideline interview.  Cosell interviewed quarterback Fran Tarkenton before the start of the game, and this was the first time an active player was interviewed live on the field before or during a game.  This has also become a standard practice.

> MNF became the weekly topic of conversation on Tuesday mornings in schoolyards and offices across the nation.  It became a must-view weekly event in which Monday nights were an occasion for working parents to try to arrive home earlier and prepare dinner beforehand while students would scramble to finish their homework ahead of kickoff.  When the MNF film crew would arrive in a new destination each week, it was the impetus to have special banners, billboards and posters all over the city thereby fueling even greater excitement and anticipation.

Are there any special memories that any of you in our GNN audience have regarding Monday Night Football?  I have two favorite MNF memories.  First, is when Howard Cosell interviewed Joy Piccolo (widow of Chicago Bear running back Brian Piccolo) at halftime in anticipation of ABC's Made For TV Film "Brian's Song" which paid tribute to Piccolo with emphasis on his groundbreaking friendship with teammate Gale Sayers as well as his heroic battle against cancer.  The second occurred at the end of a broadcast in which the hometown team was on the losing end of a one-sided contest.  While Gifford was seriously engaged with calling the on-field action, Cosell and Meredith were bantering back and forth as the camera crew zeroed in on a disgruntled fan who promptly saluted the nationwide TV audience by extending his middle finger.  Without missing a beat, Meredith humorously observed that the fan was telling the ABC broadcast trio they were number one!

In the intervening years, much of what has been described here may seem as commonplace BUT this affirms the transformational power of Monday Night Football.  It not only broadened the viewing audience while creating a more enjoyable viewing experience, but it helped make sporting events into the reason for hosting private parties at home or in restaurants bringing families, friends and work-related colleagues together.  This has created shared memories across various demographics and generations, something we can all appreciate.