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Found 17 results

  1. Wendy Chioji was a hero of mine. She said "no" when I asked her to homecoming in 1978, because she knew she could do better (she was right, though I do pat myself on the back for having taken a week to work up the courage to ask her). "Wendy Chioji, Legendary Central Florida News Anchor, Has Died" by Dave Plotkin on orlandoweekly.com We'll all miss you, Wendy. 😢 Thank you for all you've done, both to live an inspired life, and to help inspire others. God, this girl was a cancer warrior, like you have no idea. She literally had chemo, then went out and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a film. --- Here's the story on WESH.
  2. This is extremely sad. "Philly's Restaurant Community Toasts Cocktail Maven Katie Loeb, Now in Hospice" by Danya Henninger on billypenn.com "Restaurant Community Remembering Katie Loeb" by Michael Klein on philly.com
  3. Eddie Gaedal is one of the few players in MLB history with a 1.000 OBP, having walked in his only major-league at-bat. A slash line of .300/.400/.500 (Batting Average / On-Base Percentage (OBP) / Slugging Percentage) represents a superb season; an OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) of 1.000 represents a Hall of Fame-caliber season. Gaedal had both an OBP of 1.000, and an OPS of 1.000, both Hall of Fame-level numbers, had he been able to maintain them for a career. He also holds (or shares) the all-time Walks / Appearances mark of 1.000, and I believe him to be a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate.
  4. Wynton Marsalis holds a special place in my heart, in that he's the most famous person (sorry, Jon 🍷) with whom I've ever had an extended conversation. On Jan 19, 1984, he performed a modern jazz concert at UNC-Charlotte - not long after his Grammy triumph - and my professor, my fellow student, and I drove two hours each way (from Clemson) to see it. Unbeknownst to the entire crowd, there was a "meet-and-greet" after the performance in a small room - we happened to overhear that it was occurring - and we got to speak with him, just the three of us, for what must have been twenty minutes - he even gave my professor (a fine, amateur horn player) pointers on his embouchure (you've never seen a Computer Science professor with a bigger smile on his face). Two of my greatest treasures are a Marsalis-autographed copy of the CDs linked to above (the second also autographed by drummer Jeff Watts). Enough background - this is a wonderful podcast: "Jazz Artist Wynton Marsalis Says Rap and Hip-Hop are 'More Damaging than a Statue of Robert E. Lee'" on washingtonpost.com
  5. Some people might not know that the Washington Senators of Walter Johnson fame were a different franchise than the lovable losers we had playing here during the 1960s - the original team (which played 1901-1960) became the Minnesota Twins, while this franchise (1961-1971) became the Texas Rangers (*). These Senators' highlights were Frank Howard, and Ted Williams - who managed them to a winning season in 1969 (unless you want to include Ed "Big Stick" Brinkman, for whom Mark Belanger was grateful (*)). Here's Richard Nixon throwing out the opening day ball in 1969, with Teddy Ballgame also in the picture (the Yankee is Ralph Houk; behind him stands the owner, Bob Short, who outbid Bob Hope (!) for ownership of the team): <--- See the guy taking a picture at the top-center? He could have featured prominently in this photo; now, he's forever anonymous. Season 3, Episode 8 of "Dragnet" (which aired on Nov 14, 1968), had this sequence when the President (who was actually Lyndon Johnson at the time of airing) came to visit Los Angeles - Gannon and Friday are addressing the press corps: (*) Actually, they weren't the original Washington Senators: Believe it or not, there were two other Washington Senators teams (making a total of four) that played around the fin de siècle, but weren't in the Major Leagues. (**) It should be noted that Brinkman, whose *best* batting average from 1961 through 1968 was an abysmal .224, worked on his hitting with Williams in 1969: That year, he batted a relatively amazing .266. Remarkably, he played on the same high school team as Pete Rose, and Brinkman was considered the better prospect by a fair margin. I still remember this baseball card:
  6. I didn't realize they just began serving breakfast at Tiffany's when I decided two days ago to watch this film for the first time. The timely, food-related connection eluded me. I watched the film because it was free with Amazon Prime AND as a self-professed Audrey Hepburn fanatic, I felt guilty that I hadn't seen it. As I began watching the film, parts seemed familiar (oddly enough, the scenes involving Holly Golightly's unnamed cat), so I think when I was younger it may have been shown on television and I half-watched some of it. This time, I gave "Breakfast at Tiffany's" my undivided attention, and I found it charming and fun. Hepburn is outstanding as party-girl Holly Golightly, and George Peppard is delightful as the struggling writer/gigolo. The movie is silly, stylish and sentimental. There is real chemistry between the stars, and a sweet love story unfolds amid the frenzy and fashion of life in the fast lane in the early '60s.
  7. This reminds me of the tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, who without Vietnam would be unquestionably one of our greatest presidents, in the same class with Lincoln and FDR. It just makes me weep when I think of it. Of course I hated him at the time, but that was all about Vietnam, which overshadowed everything. You younger people probably can't even imagine how Vietnam distorted and disfigured everything about our civic life as it crept into the crannies of our souls. You couldn't even fuck without Vietnam obtruding into the crevices of your pleasures. I look back on LBJ's presidency now and can only see what midgets his successors have been compared to him.
  8. For several years, I was a Big Brother, until my little brother, Ali, his mom Iris, and his sister, Naimah, moved to San Diego to stake out a better life for themselves. I remember taking his family to the airport, and had to pay for their cat to get on the plane because they didn't have the money. I only saw Ali once more after that, a few years later when I went to visit their family out in San Diego. We drove up to Los Angeles because Ali wanted to go to the Spike Lee Store, where everything was overpriced and of questionable quality. I bought him a T-shirt, and paid twice what it was worth - I didn't want to drive back to San Diego without a momento from his hero. A few years before that, I had flown in from Moscow. Exhausted after traveling the better part of 24 hours, I was ready to collapse into bed, but checked my answering machine first. There was a message from Iris: Ali's best friend Frankie was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad, and the funeral was in about one hour. Somehow, I found the strength to throw on a suit, and drive to Seat Pleasant, where I was the only white person at the funeral. Frankie's mom came up to me, and asked me to say a few words. To this day, I have no idea why - what the heck was I supposed to say? Fighting lack of concentration because of sleepiness, I fumbled through my speech, turned to Frankie lying in his coffin, and told him we all loved him - that won the audience over, and things went as well as they could have under the extreme amount of pressure I was under. Six years ago, I wondered what Ali had been up to, and I searched his name on the internet, only to find his obituary. I posted this. Frankie and Ali were both the finest young men. I loved them and miss them terribly to this day - their premature deaths are 100% attributable to the neighborhoods they grew up in - even though Iris tried her best to escape, it just wasn't enough. She didn't have the money. I did things with Ali and Frankie about once a week, and remember one day asking them where they went to school. "Taney Middle School," Ali said, which meant nothing to me, or to him, or to Frankie. But a few years later, I did a little research, and found that Roger B. Taney was a Supreme Court Justice. 'Okay,' I thought to myself, they had gone to a middle school named after a Supreme Court Justice. Then, I found out that Roger B. Taney was actually Chief Justice from 1836-1864, and was the person who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. These children were going to a school that was nearly 100% black, and the school was named after the Chief Justice who tried the Dred Scott case? I couldn't believe it, but over the years, I forgot all about it. Until recently, when it popped back into my mind, and I Googled to see if that school was really named after the same man who wrote the Dred Scott ruling - the ruling that said, blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Fortunately, in 1993, someone had the common sense to change the name of the school from "Roger B. Taney Middle School" to "Thurgood Marshall Middle School": "School May Change Name to Thurgood Marshall" on articles.orlandosentinel.com This column came out today: "Out with Redskins - and Everything Else!" by George F. Will on washingtonpost.com Will mixed up some valid points along with some reductio ad absurdum, as he seems to have a tendency to do - he's a smart guy; I wonder what he would say about Roger B. Taney Middle School educating a nearly all-black student body.
  9. People don't remember how great Don Mattingly was for awhile - I was actually going to make an investment, and buy about 50 of his rookie cards (I am glad I didn't make that mistake, since the baseball card market completely collapsed). Without looking at any statistics, I have a vague recollection of him having a ton of RBIs, and I remember a good friend of mine commenting on how he always led the league in doubles, too. What happened to him? I guess I could read his Wikipedia entry, but he seemed like a sure-fire Hall of Fame player, and then ... fizzle. I did see that he had *six* Grand Slams in one season (1987), and took note that Willie Randolph was on first base every single time. --- ETA - I couldn't help but see some statistics as I was tagging this post, and he has a .307 career batting average - why isn't he in the Hall? I see that the Yankees won the World Series the year before his rookie season, and the year after he retired, but never during his career - is this why?
  10. I got the notion to start re-watching "The Hustler" today because I saw a couple excerpts from "The Color of Money," the supposed "sequel" and absolute disappointment to The Hustler - the two movies shouldn't be mentioned in the same review because The Hustler is a classic; The Color of Money is lame - I remember a friend of mine saying - when it was out in the theaters in 1986, "This could have been so good, and it was such a disappointment," and I could not agree more. Tom Cruise was an embarrassment in his role, and Paul Newman played a weak character, running on fumes, when he should have played a strong mentor, running on sagesse and wisdom. The Hustler is the opposite of a "chick flick" - it's a guy's movie, and a darned good one were it not for too much lag with the scenes between Paul Newman and Piper Laurie in the middle. What a fascinating premise - a young, cocky pool shark from Oakland, California travels the country in search of Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) only to find out what it means to "win" in a high-stakes pool game, with George C. Scott lurking, and making his true entrance later in the film. What a fantastic cast this was. Forget The Color of Money; this post is about The Hustler, and what a terrific movie and cast it was. You could say both that it was a "pool movie," and that it was a drama cloaked as a "pool movie," although when the rematch occurs, all drama take a backseat to pure, hardcore pool. I'm not going to go into much more detail because if you haven't seen it, you should, and if you have, I'd love to hear what you think. What an acting career Paul Newman has had - stretching in this genre alone from Jackie Gleason to Tom Cruise. "The Hustler" - a classic from 1961. Nine Academy Award Nominations, with two wins. A wonderful, entertaining film on multiple levels.
  11. Refer also to "Parity in Baseball: A Blessing or a Curse?" Not to mention the splitting of the leagues into divisions in 1969, which means that the best team in the league was no longer guaranteed of going to the World Series. I was recently doing some research about Al Kaline and Harmon Killebrew vis-a-vis Mickey Mantle to see whether or not there was some merit to the hypothesis that those two players would have gotten Mantle-like fame had they played for the Yankees (I believe they would have, if they had comparable stats) - but I didn't get far enough into my research, because I read that in 1961, Al Kaline finished 2nd in the American League batting race, losing to his teammate Norm Cash. Norm Cash won the batting title? Really? So I did some more digging, and found out that Kaline batted a fine.324 that year, but Cash batted an *unbelievable* .361. Are you kidding me? .361? That is the highest single-season batting average that *any* major-league player hit in the 1960s! And he hit 41 home runs and 132 RBIs! That's a better year than Bryce Harper had in 2015, without question. When Norm Cash retired, he was in 4th place all-time for most home runs ever by an American League left-handed hitter, behind Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig. That's some pretty sweet competition. And the 1961 Detroit Tigers won 101 games! That's a record of 101-61! But because *The Best Team* won the pennant every year through 1968 (without any of this playoff nonsense), the 1961 Yankees, with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hitting a combined 115 home runs, won 109 games (109-53!), and won the pennant by 8 full games. Kind of takes the excitement out of it, doesn't it? Having a "real" pennant race perhaps once only every decade? But what it *also* does is ensure that the best teams win, year in, and year out, and that's why the Yankees always won - because over the course of 154 (or in this case 162) games, they were almost *always* the best team.
  12. It's pretty obviously the Beach Boys doing a pantomime "live" performance for video to go with their audio recording of "I Get Around", but without the audio of the record. When this was put together with the audio, we got this: which is actually pretty wonderful. I love the Beach Boys, who were no more dependent on studio recording than were the Beatles to make a great sound: I can hardly convey how happy "Shut Down" makes me, every time I hear it:
  13. Cal Yastrzemski, affectionately (and practically) known as "Yaz" by his fans, was an incredibly durable 18-time All-Star for the Boston Red Sox. Although he played some of his later career at 1st Base and Designated Hitter, he was primarily known as a Left Fielder. Yaz was the first player with both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. His longevity made him not only a beloved fixture in Boston, but also earned him second place all-time in MLB Games Played, and third place all-time for MLB At-Bats. He is the all-time Red Sox leader in career RBIs, runs, hits, singles, doubles, total bases, and games played, and is third only to Ted Williams and David Ortiz in home runs. What a career this man had, especially in 1967 when he won both the AL Triple Crown and MVP Award. Here is an ESPN "SportsCentury" documentary (a wonderful biography series which ran from 1999-2007) about Carl Yastrzemski, who seems to be unjustifiably fading (along with other great outfielders such as Al Kaline, Tony Oliva, etc.) in the minds of young baseball fans:
  14. So one day my brother is changing flights in an airport. Stopping by the airport bar he sees Dan who really looks like he doesn't want to be bothered. My brother walks up to Dan and says "Jon W, Central Catholic class of 1982. Nice to meet you." Upon meeting a fellow Viking, Dan's demeanor changes. "Good to meet you. Sit down and have beer." They chat for a while when two women walk up and ask Dan if they can take a picture with him. He says, "Sure, but you have to have my good friend Jon in it, too." So somewhere out there. Some woman has a prized photo of herself and Dan Marino and my brother.
  15. We have been enjoying the Young Concert Artists, a concert series held at the Kennedy Center (as well as in NYC) which features up-and-coming classical musicians. Artists are chosen via an international audition and are provided with recitals, educational, and management opportunities. The DC performances are held at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, usually on a Monday or Tuesday night (when much of the Center is quiet). The artists usually perform 4 or 5 pieces, some solo but often accompanied by piano or violin. Last night featured 19 year old French clarinetist Raphaí«l Sévère (yes, an evening of classical music devoted to the clarinet!). And he was wonderful. Last night he performed: Johannes Brahms - Sonata for clarinet in E-flat major, Op. 120, No. 2 Pierre Boulez - Domaines for solo clarinet Sylvain Picart - Fantasy on Themes by John Williams Igor Stravinsky - L'Histoire du Soldat for clarinet, violin, and piano Francis Poulenc - Sonata for clarinet and piano Next performance is Bulgarian-American violinist Bella Hristova on Tuesday April 28. It's a lovely way to spend an evening at the Kennedy Center.
  16. I've never quite understood why Lola Albright, who was a radiant presence on the Peter Gunn television series in the 1950s and who could obviously sing, didn't have more of a career than she had. Here she is singing "How High the Moon" on a Peter Gunn episode. It's remarkable that they would take this much time for a musical number that in no way advanced the plot in a half-hour drama. Back in the late 1970s (I don't remember the year, 1979 probably, I could look it up), there was a pre-Broadway tryout at the Kennedy Center of a new play by Tennessee Williams called "Clothes for a Summer Hotel", which did not make it to Broadway for reasons that were painfully obvious at the time. I was at one of the performances, sitting in the last row of the orchestra section of the Eisenhower with a couple of friends. During the course of the performance, we all became aware that Mr. Williams was standing right behind us (in a huge fur coat). As the performance ended to tepid applause, one of my friends turned around in his seat and said "Mr. Williams, would you please sign my program?" Which he did. Then the other friend asked for the same, and Williams again consented. I finally said "Oh what the hell, will you sign my program too?" and Tennessee replied, while taking my program and signing it, "I'm not going to keep doing this forever, you know." You may draw your own conclusions as to why I share this anecdote in the present moment. I'm sorry to say that I moved house not long afterward and the program signed by Tennessee Williams was never seen again.
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