Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Sense of History

At the moment, I am being a good Samaritan and temporarily housing a young actor who's working on a project of ours.   It is an interesting experience and my cap tips to anybody who has parented a 22-year-old.  For the first time ever in my life, there is both a snowboard and an XBox in my home.

Now the "kid" is mature in a lot of ways given he was a regular on a soap opera when he was a teenager.   But he got caught in a little bit of a housing crunch after graduating from UCLA and I couldn't let somebody I know live underneath the freeway.   

As a result, my guest room now looks a little like a frat house and, as I am discovered is a common trait with the younger set, nothing really has a sense of urgency until it is absolutely, absolutely necessary.

But the point of today's entry is not any of the above.   It's more about the discovery I am having about the sense of history the youth have today.   Essentially, it is zero.

To wit, a while back, I happened to be in the supermarket with him as he "liquided" up for the Friday night beer pong tourney.   Since it was right after the passing of Mary Tyler Moore, her picture was adorning the People cover on the magazine rack.   I dreaded the answer to my question but I had to ask it anyway.

Do you know who she is?

"Nope."

Checking into his temporary digs, I mentioned that my condo owner is the daughter-in-law of Shirley Jones.

"Who?"

I mentioned the guy who, for a long while, lived up on the fourth floor of this condo.   Don Knotts.

"Who?"

He used to be on "The Andy Griffith Show.

"What's that?"

My head hung lower but I had to keep up this streak.   I recited to him my top 25 favorite films of all time.  Classics from "The Godfather" to "Rear Window" to "Some Like It Hot."   He had seen one of them..."Jaws."

I moved to TV shows.   My revered and adored sitcoms.

The Dick Van Dyke Show.   Nope.

Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Golden Girls...no, no, no.

All in the Family got a "what's that."

Now here is a young guy headed into what will probably be a strong career as an actor.  With absolutely zero perspective of the history of the industry he will be going into.

Is anybody teaching the past to the present?  I know my friends are, because some of their kids are really classic film buffs.   But is anybody doing in a university setting?   Anybody?

Okay, my favorite TV show of all time is I Love Lucy.   They had long since stopped producing new episodes before I saw my first one.

I didn't have to be around in 1939 to appreciate "Gone with the Wind.'

My parents weren't even born for the early years of Charlie Chaplin.   I still know he was a genius.

I never saw Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson play baseball, but I know they were sheer greatness on the diamond.

Is this a good development with future generations?   Who's going to teach how to appreciate history of the arts and sports when we are gone?

The answer is one word.

Sad.

Dinner last night:   Chinese chopped salad.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This Date in History - October 18

Happy birthday to Pam Dawber back in the day.  Na-noo, na-noo.

320:  PAPPUS OF ALEXANDRIA, GREEK PHILOSOPHER, OBSERVES AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.

Hopefully, he used one of those pinholes that don't damage your eyes.

629:  DAGOBERT I IS CROWNED KING OF THE FRANKS.

Defeating challenges by Oscar Meyer and Ballpark.

1009:  THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE, A CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN JERUSALEM, IS COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY THE FATIMID CALIPH AL-HAKIM BI-AMR ALLAH.

Yeah, even then.

1356:  THE BASEL EARTHQUAKE, THE MOST SIGNIFICANT HISTORIC SEISMOLOGICAL EVENT NORTH OF THE ALPS, DESTROYS THE TOWN OF BASEL, SWITZERLAND.

And, yeah, even then.

1540:  SPANISH CONQUISTADOR HERNANDO DE SOTO'S FORCES DESTROY THE FORTIFIED TOWN OF MABILA IN PRESENT-DAY ALABAMA, KILLING TUSKALOOSA.

Oh, that's where they got Tuscaloosa.

1648:  BOSTON SHOEMAKERS FORM FIRST AMERICAN LABOR ORGANIZATION.

Nary a sole didn't join.

1775:  AFRICAN-AMERICAN POET PHILLIS WHEATLEY IS FREED FROM SLAVERY.

Um, back then, I think they were called Black.  Or Negro.  Or colored.   Look at the history books.

1775:  THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION - THE BURNING OF WHAT IS NOW PORTLAND, MAINE.

What was then a big old fire.

1851:  HERMAN MELVILLE'S MOBY DICK IS FIRST PUBLISHED AS "THE WHALE."

It was a whale?  Spoiler alert!

1867:  THE UNITED STATES TAKES POSSESSION OF ALASKA AFTER PURCHASING IT FOR 7.2 MILLION DOLLARS FROM RUSSIA.

Collusion!!!

1898:  THE UNITED STATES TAKES POSSESSION OF PUERTO RICO FROM SPAIN.

Do they want it back please?

1922:  THE BRITISH BROADCASTING COMPANY IS FOUNDED.

Good, now PBS stations have something to air.

1926:  SINGER CHUCK BERRY IS BORN.

And, earlier in 2017, he died.   You see how this works?

1927:  ACTOR GEORGE C. SCOTT IS BORN.

He accepted birthday cards, but not Oscars.

1929:  THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL OVERRULES THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA WHEN IT DECLARES THAT WOMEN ARE CONSIDERED "PERSONS" UNDER CANADIAN LAW.

Has this been adopted in America?  Just checking.

1934:  ACTRESS INGER STEVENS IS BORN.

Katy, the Farmer's Daughter.

1935:  ACTOR PETER BOYLE IS BORN.

So good, especially in "Young Frankenstein" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

1938:  ACTRESS DAWN WELLS IS BORN.

Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island."

1939:  ASSASSIN LEE HARVEY OSWALD IS BORN.

You may have heard of him.

1944:  WORLD WAR II - THE STATE FUNERAL OF FIELD MARSHAL ERWIN ROMMEL TAKES PLACE IN GERMANY.

Unlike his pals, he never got to hide out in South America.

1945:  ARGENTINE POLITICIAN JUAN PERON MARRIES ACTRESS EVA DUARTE.

No crying now.

1951:  ACTRESS PAM DAWBER IS BORN.

Also known as Mrs. Mark Harmon.

1952:  TV PRODUCER CHUCK LORRE IS BORN.

Currently in charge of every sitcom on television.

1954:  TEXAS INSTRUMENTS ANNOUNCES THE FIRST TRANSISTOR RADIO.

It will never catch on.

1960:  ACTRESS ERIN MORAN IS BORN.

See Chuck Berry.

1963:  FELICETTE, A FEMALE PARISIAN STRAY CAT, BECOMES THE FIRST CAT LAUNCHED INTO SPACE.

They couldn't send it far enough to suit me.

1966:  BUSINESSWOMAN ELIZABETH ARDEN DIES.

I saw a red door and I want to paint it black.

1979:  THE FCC BEGINS ALLOWING PEOPLE TO HAVE HOME SATELLITE STATIONS WITHOUT A LICENSE.

Like the transistor, it will never catch on.

1982:  FORMER FIRST LADY BESS TRUMAN DIES.

Three years short of hitting 100.

2000:  ACTRESS GWEN VERDON DIES.

Whatever Lola wants.   Oh, yeah?   God has the final word.

2007:  A SUICIDE ATTACK ON A MOTORCADE CARRYING FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER BENAZIR PHUTTO KILLS 139 AND WOUNDS 450 MORE.   BHUTTO HERSELF IS UNINJURED.

So you try to kill one person and wind up hurting everybody but?   Gee, you need new anarchists in this country.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a sandwich.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Trusty Scorebook

The official name of the book is Gene Elston's Stati-Score.   It's a spiral-bound book of baseball scoresheets good for 30 games.   Gene Elston happened to be the original radio voice of the Houston Astros and he passed away in 2015 at the age of 93.  

His scorebooks will hopefully be available for years to come.  I usually order them two or three at a time just in case they ever run out.   The last shipment I got had books that looked a little brown around the edges as if they were gathering dust in a warehouse.

Oddly, these scorebooks are as much a part of me as anything else.  I've been using them almost exclusively for over 30 years as my connection to games I've attended.  I would be lost without it.   

My scorebooks are famous.   Usually once a year, one of the Dodger Stadium roving cameramen will pop it up on Diamondvision.   The other night, the guy sitting next to us took a picture of that game's scoresheet to show his wife.   I've been patted on the back by other fans who see me scoring games.   A lost art, I am told.

I have boxes full of old ones in both my NY and my LA apartments.  They go back to the good days of the Mets in the 80s and the bad days of the Mets in the 90s.  I've got all of the great days of 1986 in Shea Stadium, including the famed Game 6 of the World Series with that little roller behind the bag that gets past Buckner.  

The scorebooks visited Chicago's Wrigley Field five years in a row as my college roommate and I made an annual trek there to see the Mets usually lose to the Cubs.   My scoring was once acknowledged by an Old Style-infused young lady who decided to call me "Stats" for the rest of the day.

The scorebooks made the trip West with me when I first became an occasional Dodger fan that ultimately bloomed into a full-fledged, card-carrying member of Blue Heaven.  Lots of games some ordinary and others not so.   Lots of cool moments.  Lots of bitter disappointment.  

But, now etched in ink for eternity is one more game and one more huge baseball memory.  You see it at the top.  Justin Turner's homerun that sailed into some fan's glove and subsequently Dodgers lore.  The scene was complete bedlam.   I've felt stadiums actually sway twice in my life.   For Game 6 of 1986 and then Sunday night.  

Because of the frenzy, I didn't actually record the homerun into my book until I had arrived home two hours later.   But it was important as always to complete the scoring of the game.   

I turn the page for the next one.   And, as far as I am concerned, there will be always be a scorebook page for me to turn.

Dinner last night:  Breakfast for dinner --- French toast and bacon.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Morning Video Laugh - October 16, 2017

Apparently, there is a theme this month.   The first two Monday laughs featured public meltdowns so let's continue it.   Here, for instance, is Reason #973 why you should never shop at Walmart.

Dinner last night:  Chicken and waffles at the Dodger game.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - What I Am Binge Watching on Hulu


The Hulu streaming service is a Sunday Memory Drawer all by itself.   I recently subscribed and I was immediately amazed by the number of old and classic TV  shows you can find on there.  What a wonderful diversion to what is considered prime time television in 2017.

Now one of the first shows I have started to binge watch is "Lou Grant."  I am about 75% of the way through the first season and I managed that in less than a week.  Think about that.  I am riveted by a show that is 40 years old!

Or is it that old?   Two of the episodes from 1977 seemed to be ripped right out of cable news in 2017.  One involved a Nazi-based white supremacy group.  Hello?!   Another covered what we now know as "fake news."   Amazing and this goes to prove that there are no real new issues in current events today.

All of which is why "Lou Grant" wound up at # 14 on my list here of my Top 25 Favorite TV Shows of All Time.   And, if I keep watching on Hulu, I just might have to revise that list and move the show up the ranks.

Okay, a pet peeve of my writing partner is a TV show set in a working environment where you never see the people actually working. His prime example is the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show." A major market newsroom. There were about four people working there at any given time. And all they were doing was sitting at their desks while Mary and Murray chatted.

You cannot make the same claim about "Lou Grant." No characters on TV worked harder than those employees in the Los Angeles Tribune newsroom. They work, they research stories, they write, and they then work and research some more. Indeed, I'd be hard pressed to tell you anything about the personal lives of the characters. Unless, of course, they were discussing it at the local watering hole. After long hours of work.

There was also no other TV show that so realistically depicted the world of journalism as "Lou Grant" did. They grabbed onto any current issue in our country and immediately turned it into some weekly plot that somehow managed to be balanced, unbiased, and....gasp, entertaining.

Maybe the reason why I loved "Lou Grant" so much is because, to this day, I have always been an avid reader of the daily newspaper. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I learned to read because my dad used to buy not one, not two, but three daily NY papers. And, for some goofy reason, he used to go down and wait at the subway station every night for the delivery of the next day's Daily News---the Night Owl edition. In those days, they were pretty proud to boast that you could "read tomorrow's news tonight." Totally useful unless you were looking for any baseball scores. But, like clockwork, my dad would wait for that newspaper delivery every night at 830PM. He'd bring them home and then I would devour them. 

Well, not the whole paper. But, I would zero in on the baseball page, the movie listings, and the comics. I was five years old. A year later, on one of my first days in the first grade, there was a newspaper on the teacher's desk. I picked it up and started to read it to the class, much to Mrs. McKnight's surprise. Before I knew it, I had been dragged down to the principal's office so he, too, could hear my rendition of that day's adventures with Dagwood.

About a week later, I was in the second grade. And I have the daily newspaper to thank for the educational shortcut.

So, even now, there is always a newspaper in my daily regimen. The news. The sports. The comics. The Sudoku puzzle. Whatever the city, whatever the season. In California, the LA Times is left in front of my door by 6AM. And, sometime before 10AM, I am spending quality time with some black and white print.
Sundays are no different. Indeed, they're even more special because it takes more time to sift through all the sections. 

As I binge on "Lou Grant" reruns today, my appreciation for this traditional news dispersal is enhanced anew. The fictional LA Tribune on that show was a dying breed even when it first appeared on TV screens in the late 70s. Now, newspapers are dropping like the flies they used to swat. And I cringe at the thought of a day without them.

And I am amazed all over again at the performance of Edward Asner as the lead character. Consider that Lou Grant, as a character, started out on the half-hour "Mary Tyler Moore" sitcom. In that forum, he was a cartoon---a hard-boiled alcoholic with a heart of gold. Prone to screaming and temper tantrums. Somehow, on Lou's route to the cast list of a dramatic TV show, the character evolved into a multi-layered individual. You can still see the original comedic threads, but there is now so much more. It is fascinating to me that Asner and the writers managed to achieve such a changeover. Truly one of the greatest creative transitions ever created for the small screen.

Another remarkable performance in the cast is Nancy Marchand as Tribune owner Mrs. Margaret Pynchon, decades before she did a 180 degree turn and created the diabolical character of Tony Soprano's mother.   Light years of difference and mesmerizing.  Marchand won a pack of Emmys on both of those groundbreaking shows and they were all well deserved.

I can wax even more poetically about "Lou Grant," but I can't ignore one more baseline reality. The show gave me actress Linda Kelsey every week and I could watch her read the classified ads.

But, only those classified ads that you would find in a daily newspaper. If you're reading this entry right now, do me a favor. Turn off the freakin' computer and go open up the paper. There is nothing like it.

And watch "Lou Grant" on Hulu, please.

Dinner last night:  Bacon wrapped Dodger Dog at the NLDS Game # 1.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Classic Newsreel of the Month - October 2017

Check out this evidence of climate change in 1962.   Just kidding.

Dinner last night:  Taylor Ham and cheese panini.

Friday, October 13, 2017

This House For Sale












Dinner last night:  Barbecue chopped salad.