Saturday, November 17, 2007

Celebrity Snippets: Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews has won an Oscar for best actress for her performance as "Mary Poppins." The following year she was also nominated for best actress for her role as Maria in "The Sound of Music."

My father grew up in Austria, so the movie "The Sound of Music" was very special to him. He was about the same age as the Von Trapp children during the war, and it struck a chord. We went as a family to see it in the movie theater, and then we watched it together every time it was on television. It was not optional viewing.

In the summer of 1974, he even sent my sister and I to spend the summer with his old school chum in a small town outside of Salzburg…the very same hills that were alive with the Sound of Music. After my father died in the late 80s, the movie took on added significance to me. It reminded me of Dad.

Somewhere along the line during my years with the John Landecker show, I made the mistake of telling John about this. He thought it was hilarious that a 30-something year old straight man loved "The Sound of Music." He filed that little bit of information away, just waiting for an opportunity to use it.

That opportunity came soon enough.

When Julie Andrews came to Chicago in the mid-90s to star in the Broadway-bound "Victor-Victoria," I spent weeks setting up a special one-on-one interview for John. When I finally did secure a taped interview at the theater, he got a little twinkle in his eye.

I knew I was in trouble, but I figured it would be worth it. Our audience was Julie's audience, and vice versa. It was a no-brainer for the show.

The interview was actually quite entertaining. Her husband Blake Edwards, the director of the film Victor/Victoria, was sitting by her side throughout the interview and he was on a comedic roll—totally dominating the discussion. I was enjoying it tremendously as a fly on the wall.

I can still picture it vividly.

I was sitting just a few feet away from Julie Andrews, and I have to say, she looked fantastic. I was so impressed by her in so many ways. She seemed unbelievably nice, plus she was really showing me something by laughing at the ribald humor of her husband. In fact, I was enjoying it so much, I had completely forgotten about the butterflies in my stomach.

They came back quickly, however, when the interview was wrapping up. John pulled a CD copy of the Sound of Music soundtrack out of his jacket, and my face immediately turned bright red. I knew what was coming next.

"That's my producer, Rick," he said, pointing to me, "And he's been in love with you since 'The Sound of Music' came out. Would you mind autographing this CD for him?"

She looked at me and smiled, genuinely flattered. I was so embarrassed I wanted to crawl under my chair.

"Do you run into a lot of 30-something year old straight guys who loved the Sound of Music?" he teased.

"Don't let him get to you, Rick," she said, handing me the CD. "He just doesn't get it."

I still have that CD. On the way back to the studio, I didn't even realize I was clutching it tightly to my chest. John laughed out loud.

"You really were in love with Julie Andrews, weren't you?" he asked.

"Actually, no," I foolishly corrected him. "I was in love with Liesl."

Boy, would I come to regret that little confession. In the next "Celebrity Snippets," I'll tell you why.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Half Empty: Technological Breakthroughs in Breaking Up

They say that when you hit your 40s, your life is half over. We prefer to think of it as HALF EMPTY. Our age has finally caught up with our outlook on life. Remember, it is possible to turn that frown upside down...but you might pull a muscle.

By Rick Kaempfer & Dave Stern

A story in the news a few weeks ago caught our attention. A woman decided to get back at her ex-boyfriend by putting a picture of his wife and her phone number on "adult" websites. Sure, she was arrested for harassment, but you have to give her credit for her creativity.

It got us to thinking about the ways breaking up has changed over the past few years thanks to technology. The whole dynamic is different now. You can judge for yourself if the new dynamic is better, worse, or about the same.

Then: Put all of her pictures in a pile, and set them on fire; watching her face melt, blacken, turn into ash, and evaporate into dust.
Now: Click, highlight, and delete her photos from your hard-drive.

Then: Driving past his house and throwing microwaved tomatoes at it.
Now: Sending a digital photo to his cell-phone—of you giving him the finger.

Then: Having to make one last visit to her apartment to get all your records back.
Now: Sending an e-mail asking her to e-mail your music back to you.

Then: Risking it all by listening to the radio after the break up, knowing that at any moment the DJ could inadvertently play “your” song.
Now: I-Pod, baby. Either delete “your” song entirely, or don’t use the shuffle feature for a few months—just in case.

Then: Driving by to see if her lights are on.
Now: Using a scanner to listen in on the baby monitor.

Then: Sending him a pizza at 3 in the morning.
Now: Sending him a computer virus at any time.

Then: Re-reading her love letters from a happier time, glossing over the bad times and only remembering the good times.
Now: Looking at your cell-phone bill and tracking the memory of each call…she loved me, she started to get irritated with me, she told me I was a jerk, she broke up with me, she told me that if I ever called her again she would get a restraining order.

Then: Reliving the grief a million times each time an unsuspecting friend asks how he is doing.
Now: Emergency IM session with a few hundred friends—all at once.

Then: You can’t even recognize her face on those deteriorating old “Private Polaroid’s.”
Now: “Ex-Girlfriend” websites can give her the kind of world-wide audience she never expected.

Then: Throwing all of his belongings onto the front lawn.
Now: Selling all of his belongings on E-bay.

Then: Using the remote code to check her answering machine messages while she’s at work, only to hear her new boyfriend’s voice on the machine.
Now: Checking her cell-phone voicemail and deleting messages from her new boyfriend before she can hear them.

See what we mean? The whole world of break ups has drastically changed. Also, it occurs to us some of the old classics have been destroyed by technology forever. For instance, in the old days you could call a million times waiting for that one chance to get her on the line. Now, with caller I.D, automatic callback, and privacy manager, you would be exposed as the psycho boy you really are.

Also, you can’t use her phone number when you contribute to a charity anymore. What’s the use of getting her number on every single telemarketer’s phone list when she’s on the national no-call list?

Oh well, time marches on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Suburban Man: It was sixteen years ago this week...

We were married on November 16, 1991 at St. Michael's church in Wheaton. The reception was at the Schwaben Center in Buffalo Grove. The honeymoon was in St. Kiits.

Tommy arrived in 1995. Johnny in 1998. Sean in 2002.

And despite the sixteen years of living with me, the birth of three boys, the diapers, the crying, and the constant stress of raising a family, the bride looks exactly the same...As stunning today as she was in her bridal gown on November 16, 1991.

Happy anniversary, Bridget.

If you're a fan of "Suburban Man", check out the blog of "NWI Parent," a publication of the Northwest Indiana Times. I'm now a regular columnist/blogger for them, writing a weekly column called "Father Knows Nothing"