Bill Moeller Commentary: Cleaning the Desktop — Yup, Again — Is Not For the Timid


I’ve never understood how some people can be sane and methodical when it comes to keeping a desktop orderly and free of clutter, especially when, at the same time, they feel they have to come up with something out of the ordinary week after week.

I, for one, do not have the capacity to be one of them.

For example, I’ve missed several phone calls because my little answering machine was covered with several layers of possible ideas for columns that could be used for “spares” when needed.

For another example, who in the world would be interested in knowing about an old popular musical group called the “Hoosier Hot Shots,” a group that consisted of Ken on guitar, Gabe on clarinet, Frank playing bass and Hezzie manipulating his slide whistle and washboard? 

I have a couple of CDs they recorded and, quite frankly, they don’t sound as good as I remember they did. Oh, some things did bring a guilty smile to my face, such as when I remember one song they sang about love gone bad: “She broke my heart in three places, Seattle, Chicago and New York.”

Who writes lyrics like that anymore?

Then, who would be interested in reading the note to myself that — as kids — we used to save money by making a target for our BB guns ourselves, painting a target on one side of a cardboard box and putting a sheet of plywood at the opposite side to catch the BBs and make them reusable? 

Or that on TV’s closed captioning, the words “rush hour” became “Russia?” And who cares that I wrote a note to myself wishing that the old movie “Casablanca” could have had a different ending? 

Then there’s something else that probably means far less to other people than myself, and that’s the current (as I write this) ending to the TV game show “Jeopardy,” where we hear the audience applauding through all of the closing statements.

The way I still hear it (almost every night, by the way) is that it’s still all recorded. Remember, the camera used to occasionally show the audience and we still don’t see that, nor do we see the contestants sometimes sneaking a look at an audience to see if someone they know is present.

I made a note to myself to mention the TV channel 21 (on my guide) which shows nothing but old TV programs. I wonder why the acting is so bad on so many of them? It’s stiff and stilted, and no longer believable.

To me, everything seems to consist of actors reciting memorized scripts instead of projecting the true feeling of what the words mean. Perry Mason (which ran from the late ‘50s to the mid-60s) is, to me, a prime example and I haven’t watched more than 60 seconds of that show before I did some channel hopping.

Even the dialogue on early programs of M*A*S*H falls short of being believable to this loyal viewer. I have a theory that may have some basis of truth in it — and that’s the possibility that both actors and viewers changed over the years. M*A*S*H, for instance, became more believable toward the end of its run because the situations turned from slapstick comedy to serious acceptance that war itself just wasn’t that funny anymore.

In stage plays, the audience always knows that the actor is only pretending to be the person he or she is representing. That’s a “given.” In movies, the action is portrayed larger than life on the screen and that, too, is a barrier to reality. But something changed when the picture was brought into the living room; a smaller picture became more personal and it took a better or smarter actor to remember that.

Now, how did I get sidetracked? I guess it’s because once a person has truly taken up acting as a part of his or her life, it’s there to stay.


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at