Our 2011 Road Trip, Part 7: Not Necessarily the NBC News


“America’s Most Trusted Newsman” are four words that appear nowhere in this chapter.

[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]

Once we’d had our fill of the Today set, many of the remaining minutes before our 9:45 appointment were wasted on scrounging up a meal for my son, who hates breakfast food and had refused any solids at the Bouchon Bakery because his appetite never awakens till an hour or two after he does. Some tunneling through the underground Rockefeller Center shops brought us to an everyday Subway franchise, thankfully willing and equipped to serve lunch before 10 a.m. While we strode back to where we needed to be, he did his best to cram an entire five-five-dollar-five-dollar-footlong chicken teriyaki sub into his gullet as quickly as possible without choking.

He had only a few bites left of his special-needs meal when we arrived at the NBC Studios Store to kick off our official NBC Studios tour.

Right this way for the no-photos tour, a never-before-shared video, and then a few photos!

My Complete Video Oeuvre, Part 3 of 3: Live from Super Bowl Village

For those just joining us: today concludes the three-part landmark miniseries that chronicles my few feeble forays into the world of video. Not one of these three videos is a crowning achievement; they’re the aesthetic equivalent of lower-tier DVD extras. It’s no coincidence that the sharing of this humbling collection coincides with one of the Internet’s traditionally quietest weeks of the year. Those brash young YouTube stars make it look so simple, but not all of us have the knack for that art form.

In Part One, we watched Chinese acrobats from the sidelines. In Part Two, we watched the award-non-winning live-action short film “Bear on Scooter”. In Part Three, I move from behind the camera to glorious center stage.

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My Complete Video Oeuvre, Part 2 of 3: Bear on Scooter

In our previous precarious episode, the balancing bedazzlement of Chinese acrobats was the first humble example of my limited, sub-amateur experiences in the video medium.

One year later, at the 2010 Indiana State Fair I was stricken a second time by the impulse to test-drive my camera’s modest video function while watching live-action entertainment, just to see what would happen. I vaguely recalled a couple of mistakes not to repeat. This time we had front-facing seats; I kept the running time under a minute; and I found an odder subject.

With no schooling or forethought I created a modern masterpiece of bravery and stunt work, never to be duplicated or understood by rival artistes. The juxtaposition of a formidable force of nature with an understated man-made artifact examines the stark contrast between our attempts to navigate our world and nature’s cold-hearted insistence on denying the fundamental superiority of manifest destiny. On a deeper psychological level, the uneasy alliance between the avatars of ferocity and technology is an exemplary illustration of that innate contradiction known as the duality of man.

My thirty-nine-second magnum opus is called “Bear on Scooter”:

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My Complete Video Oeuvre, Part 1 of 3: the Chinese Acrobats

Some people are skilled with video cameras. Some are talented in front of cameras. Those who lack proper training for either side will see their amateur attempts at moving pictures yield mixed results. This three-part miniseries will clarify for the record why I’m not a vlogger, even though nobody asked.

I’ve never owned a dedicated video camera in my life, never even held or operated someone else’s. My camera has a video function, but it wasn’t a consideration when I bought it because I’ve never been a fan of home movies. I was under the impression that the average camera owner dedicates its use largely to birthday parties, Christmas Day in the living room, and grade-school recitals starring children who aren’t mine. Perhaps other families turn their gatherings into elaborate stage productions, complete with musical numbers and action scenes worth immortalizing for future generations. Our family, not so much. We’re big on photos, but minimalist on real-time recordings.

One sweltering August day at the 2009 Indiana State Fair, I was struck by one of my frequent random whims that always start with the question, “What happens when I do this?” My wife and I had been enjoying the fairground attractions and decided to sample one of the live entertainment options, a troupe of Chinese acrobats who were appearing gratis and weren’t prefaced with stringent disclaimers forbidding A/V recording devices. Just for fun, I decided to see what would happen if I tried filming them instead of merely photographing them, using the camera feature I’d never accessed before.

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