Video Digest: September 15, 2006

Brassy Texans and bold Christians: Ann Richards, RIP; Solid Gold dancers, shine on wherever you are; shocking jump-roping; shocking Christian nation; and The Lord of the Rings reduced to 90 seconds.

As a kid growing up in Texas, I didn’t follow politics or look up to elected officials. I was too busy worshiping Rob Lowe and practicing crotch thrusts for my future as a Solid Gold dancer. That indifference changed when I got to college. For one, Solid Gold was long off the air. For another, I met Ann Richards. Well, I didn’t actually meet Ann Richards—unlike one friend of mine, who skipped class to see her and got her to sign his excuse note—but I was introduced to her as the state’s governor. Bold, brassy, smart, so very Texan in a way I still wasn’t sure I wanted to be—having spent 18 years pretending to be from somewhere else—and yet couldn’t help but admire. Ann Richards was cool. She even participated in this promo for Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse—on a sidenote, the coolest theater in the country, hands-down. “Ann Richards will take your ass out”: This is how Texans thought of the late Ann Richards, who died Wednesday night.

But hold up: Did someone mention Solid Gold? This week, WMFU has more on Solid Gold than I ever wanted to know—and I wanted to know a lot. I hadn’t seen the show since its heyday in the mid-80s, when it came on each Sunday night and I watched with the kind of note-taking intensity Boswell reserved for date night with Dr. Johnson. Honestly, seeing this clip again, I find it astonishing I ever learned to read, or write, or do anything but shake my tush and high-kick in heels. That’s the power it had over me.

I’m left speechless by this next clip, via SharpeWorld, an ‘80s televangelist spot featuring once-abused Vietnamese refugees jumping rope to Christian music. (Also, something about pirates?) If you think Ann Richards is tough, just wait till you meet these kids.

Growing up in Texas also meant I had my fair share of run-ins with the evangelicals. I logged a few hours singing “Jesus is the Rock” with nice folk who just wanted to give me free pizza and save my eternal soul. Then I found out they weren’t down with Solid Gold and all bets for my redemption were off. But I still love learning about the evangelicals, a curiosity I hope will be sated by the documentary Jesus Camp, which opens Friday in places like Oklahoma City and Tulsa and rolls out to New York on September 22.

View the Jesus Camp Trailer

And, of course, The Lord of the Rings trilogy drawn with stick figures and shrunk to a minute-and-a-half.

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