This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

March 24, 1999 - DCTV Library Commercials

Some moments in life are both surreal and wonderful.

For instance, a few weeks ago, I was sitting in Bob Schultz's Prairie Canyon Ranch "Happy Days" Saloon, with some 16 other characters. We were playing poker with a mound of silver dollars (rounded up by Woody Shenk, President of Norwest Bank in Highlands Ranch). We were tossing down shots of pure apple juice, and on occasion, even the hard stuff: root beer. Outside, a shrill wind whined and whirled.

The piano man, George Acker, kept busy at the old upright. Some of the other tough hombres included Bob Schultz (proprietor of the Saloon), barkeep Jerry Vetter, Clyde Jones, Bill Duncan, and Mark Weston. Along with me, that made up the amateur cast.

Then we had some pros -- professional cowboy entertainers Bill Barwick and Dennis Fischer, and a delightfully quick study named Brandon Marks . He's a sixth grader from Cherokee Trail Elementary. We called him, "The Kid." You'll call him, "The Star."

The purpose for this gathering was to shoot library commercials for DCTV, our public access station (Channel 8). Dave Wruck, former library employee now working for DCTV, took an idea I tossed out in a column some 10 years ago and wrung it into a series of hilarious, utterly unexpected vignettes.

Jess Stainbrook, DCTV Administrator, tells me that some of these pieces should be ready in another 3 weeks or so. He took at least a hundred shots of us, and the editing process -- turning all those shots into a seamless whole -- takes some time. Usually, Jess was just getting different angles on things. Sometimes he was just trying to get us to say our lines right. (As an actor, I'm a fair librarian.)

The saloon was 12 by 16 feet, plus a pot-bellied stove, bar, piano, and poker table. In addition, we had actors, background characters, TV crew, and DPLD Public Relations Manager, Cindy Murphy, who catered the affair. In that crammed space, I have to say that we made some truly magical moments.

I suspect these commercials will make the Douglas Public Library District famous. I'ts not just because we were all pretty funny, but because DCTV has wracked up some impressive credentials in its short history.

For instance, last year it made several entries in the 1998 National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors Government Programming Awards competition. These are the Emmys of government TV.

DCTV was a finalist for its "Welcome to Douglas County" production under the category of "Creativity." Channel 8 took third place for its "personality profile" of Johnny King. It was a finalist for its production on the Douglas County Swat Team. DCTV won 2nd place for its video of the K-9 patrol. And it won first place for excellence in government programming in its category.

At the time, DCTV was essentially a two person shop: Jess and Dave. Their output, and its quality, are extraordinary. These library commercials will be, too.

The other great thing about these commercials is that I had to go out and buy a big black cowboy hat. I don't know why it took so long. I now understand that EVERY Colorado librarian needs one. At first, I attempted to borrow one from library staff and spouses. But nobody's head was anywhere near as big as mine.

And after these commercials come out, I don't expect my head to be any smaller.

Thank you, DCTV!

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