Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Knievel, R.I.P.

By Drew

When I was a kid, Evel Knievel was big business. He'd tried to the fountains at Caesar's Palace and failed (I never could figure that out), tried to jump the Snake River Canyon and failed (my most vivid memory was a line in the small print of the Monday sports section which read "Canyon Jumping: Snake River 1, Evel Knievel 0), tried to jump a tank of sharks in Chicago and failed. He was a regular on ABC's Wide World of Sports, and kept Frank Gifford busy reporting on his various attempts.

Yeah, his failures were spectacular, but so were his successes, none more so than the very idea that you could sell out sports stadiums around the world, filling them with people who were willing to pay to see someone risk breaking their neck. And it worked. He broke a lot of bones, but broke a lot of records as well.

Every once in a while if you surf around on television you'll come across a movie called Viva Knievel, in which Evel starred as himself - taking on drug dealers, trying to reconcile with his son, and leaping cars with his bike. In other words, undoubtedly an average day in the life of Evel Knievel. The supporting cast was incredible - Gene Kelly, Lauren Hutton, Red Buttons, Leslie Nielsen, Cameron Mitchell, and of course Frank Gifford. Some of them had seen their best days, some had never quite made it off the B list, but still - all of them supporting a guy who wasn't even a professional actor. . .

Although, truth be told, Evel Knievel was a great actor. He sold himself as the image of a heroic daredevil, a man with limitless courage, willing to risk it all for the sake of entertainment and the challenge. He sold it, and people bought it, and in truth they were probably buying the real thing. His son took up the family business and has done pretty well for himself, although the technology has certainly improved in the meantime. But he just doesn't have the pioneer spirit, if you will, that his dad had, a lone man on a lone bike, trying to do things others couldn't.

No, there was only one Evel Knievel, and I'm glad I got the chance to see him, even if it was only on TV. Say what you like - he took the chances, and in a way we all lived vicariously through him. He'd been in poor health for some time when he died today, at the age of 69.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

A Victorian modernist. Harriet Monroe (1860 - 1936) was like the kid who'd like to jump off the diving board, but doesn't want to swim in the deep end of the pool. A little older and more prim than the modernist poets, she nevertheless made it possible for many of them to become well-known.

Unable to find opportunities to publish her own work, Monroe decided to start her own magazine, and in 1912 began the granddaddy of poetry journals, Poetry. Monroe and her bold, new creation provided an outlet for poets such as Pound, Frost, Eliot, H.D., Sandburg and Williams. While Monroe had a taste for the delicate modern, she couldn't resist tinkering with the submissions she received, cleaning them up a bit, and it wasn't long before Pound and Eliot were taking their wares to a new journal, the Little Review. Still, Poetry brought a lot of great poets to light and continues on to this day as a distinguished publication.

Monroe's poetry? In structure and form it's from a previous generation, but it stays away from the cloying sentimentality that can be found in some work of the 19th century. So here is the publisher and editor as poet.

Back Home

Egypt, Jerusalem, Stamboul,
And Athens of the crystal hill;
Apollo of Olympia,
Tall as a tower and marble-still;

Italy shining in the sun,
And Slavia by her dented sea --
These have been mine since last I stood
Where now my own comes back to me.

I met the dark kings where they lay
Mummied and folded close in gold,
And listened in their tombs to hear
The bragging tale their sculptors told.

I climbed the crested Holy City
Where one man, speaking words of flame,
Burnt up the Roman power and left
A world emblazoned with his name.

And Greece, guarding her shattered stones,
Lifting white columns to the sky --
I saw her pledge her Parthenon
To prove beauty can never die.

Now from the crowded little lands,
Gun-weighted with their ancient hates,
I come, hearing a mighty voice
Calling her thunder-roll of states.

The prairies hear it, and the hills,
The huge lakes, the far-folding sea --
A radio call out of the air,
Enormous, insolent and free.

An who am I to question her
Where among skyscrapers she waits!
The nations I have trailed are here --
Hate dies in them within her gates.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Old Quotes and More Aftereffects

By Bobby

I remembered some of my old quotes, and in light of what has happened since then, I decided to reflect back on those times.

"Tragically, we won't do it at church again because our church music leader announced a change to an all-karaok√© format using exclusively pop/rock/hip-hop from one music publisher (BMG). The songs our leader now uses are worthless pop junk, and I can't see myself singing it because technique must be violated in order to "sing" this material! It does not have any message, as it focuses squarely on the beat. Besides, I’ve imposed a no prerecorded accompaniment policy out of respect to the instrumentalists I have used when I sing. Consider I've paid cash and merchandise to my pianists and actually worked with my voice teacher in booking them, it's important I reward them for work."

Last year during a recital, in addition to paying the cash my voice teacher usually asks us to pay our accompanist, I also paid my accompanist (a college student who is a dear friend) with a fresh home-baked pumpkin pie. Now I don't know what college students can do but having fresh pumpkin pie to share with the roommates is a good thing for the season.

As for that music leader at church, allegations arose that he had been in cahoots with some students at the public middle and high school in the area, and some of the antics were questionable. Some wanted him out because of the music (what virtue is there in church music when they are teaching kids to dance to a hip-hop tune?), while others (mostly from those schools) supported him, despite his clear push that pop-rock karaoke and hip-hop dance was "in" and majestic masterpieces of solid theology were "out". He was forced out for his actions in school, which he defended in his resignation letter, but the assistant is in the same mould of support of pop/rock and teen dance (he teaches in that school system), and he is not a paid staffer. At the urging of a few members, I asked to be considered as part of a committee to find the next music leader, and it's clear where I am going. When you have an alliance with classical singers and not afraid to support the "meat and potatoes" of the serious sacred material with sound doctrine and its timeless majesty, and to turn away from the "cupcakes" of the modern pop-rock, known for its sappy secular love songs, lack of theology, and short life span, it's obvious which side of the ball I am hanging, and with apologies to Dick Vitale (whom I met while in college), it's an NC'er. The great sacred masterpieces need some

"A piece that made me laugh -- Gianni Schicchi."

When I am frustrated by my alma mater's slide, I jokingly say if this continues to our rival, I'm taking a suicide dive down the Ponte Vecchio into the Arno. It's obvious where that is coming if you've heard Gianni Schicchi. When I called my voice teacher after the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands Turkey Day Run III, she smiled because she knew I was thinking of Gianni Schicchi, and O mio babbino caro. Too bad we don't have people who understand opera or get jokes based off opera.

"A piece you've been meaning to listen to or perform. -- Handel's Messiah."

Last year I finally took the plunge with a friend's church, participating in excerpts of the masterpiece. I enjoyed all practices, but am probably not doing it this year because of travel and how doing the work on consecutive days this year (I usually participate in a local choral society's singalong with friends the Monday of the week before Christmas) would affect my singing. (That church's production is very late compared to last year.) The "Six Weeks of Handel" became one of my highlights of 2006. Of course, Handel is Handel. There isn't another work like it, and sadly we teach our kids to avoid them for what they want, and that is the no-talent material of faking everything that is popular because of the major publishers -- EMI Group plc, Vivendi, and Warner Music Group. They cash in each time a church performs their mostly secularised pieces because of copyright, and people support them because they believe the beat matters first, and the lack of theology is irrelevant.

Of course, they want their church to be a clone of Granger Community Church in Indiana, where their services feature secular rock songs and television themes with pop psychology instead of solid Biblical teachings. The services have featured themes based on 24, Mad Money, Desperate Housewives, The Office: An American Workplace, and other popular programs, and their "worship music" is actual pop-rock tunes, no theology. That does not work.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Verity Lambert, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

You probably aren't familiar with the name Verity Lambert. She was a legend in British television, working her way up from personal assistant to David Susskind to become one of the BBC's premier producers. She did "Rumpole of the Bailey," "The Naked Civil Servant," "Edward and Mrs. Simpson" and countless other dramas for the BBC and Thames television, eventually forming her own production company (the cleverly-named Cinema Verity). As a young production assistant she once had to take over direction of a live drama when one of the actors died in the middle of the telecast and the director had to rush down and rewrite his scenes for the rest of the cast.

But it was for one program that she earned eternal fame. In 1963, at the age of 28, she was selected by Sydney Newman to produce for the BBC a science-fiction children's program he had just created - Doctor Who. She was producer for the first two years of the series, casting William Hartnell in the crucial role as the initial Doctor, as well as the Doctor's first three companions - William Russell and Jacqueline Hill as the schoolteachers Ian and Barbara, and Carole Ann Ford, as the Doctor's grand-daughter, Susan. She was also responsible for giving the green light to the introduction of one of the most famous villains in TV science fiction history - the Daleks.

It was Verity Lambert who, in her two years, helped build the foundation for the legendary series that continues to this day. Earlier in the past season, in a story entitled "Human Nature" where the Doctor temporarly assumes the guise of a human, he identifies his parents as "Sydney and Verity." Truer words were never spoken.

Doctor Who premiered for the first time on November 23, 1963, and it was last Thursday, one day short of the 44th anniversary of the premiere, that she died at the age of 71 after a long illness.

We Are Not Alone

By Mitchell

As I've mentioned in the past, I often have my differences with NRO's David Frum, but regardless he's a heck of a writer. And he knows about the Grey Cup.

(Of course, he is Canadian...)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Football North of the Border

By Mitchell

We’ve had a lot of football talk this week, haven't we? Earlier we discussed the great history of football on Thanksgiving; now it's at the rich heritage of the Canadian Football League title game, today's 95th Grey Cup championship.

Most sports fans in America are vaguely aware of something called Canadian football. They have this fuzzy impression of a game with a longer field, more players and different rules, and that’s about it. And that’s understandable – in this country, there are really only three kinds of football – high school, college, and the NFL. Even Australian Rules football probably had a bigger following than Canadian football (at least when the Aussie games were being shown on ESPN, back in the good old days of the network).

Canadian football has a long and colorful history, however. It’s a game that has its roots in Canadian rugby, and over the years evolved in a slightly different manner from American football, with a particular emphasis on the kicking game. Consequently, those fuzzy impressions that people have are, for the most part, right: the field is longer (110 yards long by 65 wide, with end zones that are an additional 20 yards deep, and it still takes some getting used to to hear someone refer to the 53 yard line); you’ve got 12 players per side rather than 11 (the extra offensive player is generally a receiver, the extra defender a safety); there are three downs instead of four (which puts a real emphasis on the passing game, and also the need for mobile quarterbacks, since a sack is even more deadly); no fair catches on punts (the kicking team has to give the receiver a five-yard buffer or get nailed for a penalty); and the kicking team gets a point if they kick the ball into the end zone and it isn’t run out (and most teams will concede the single point in return for field position, since in that case the ball is brought out to the 35-yard line). There are other differences as well, but what it all adds up to is an exciting, wide-open, fast-paced game that has, over the years, developed a small cult following south of the border.

Now, I might be biased in this; I have to admit that the NFL doesn't have much appeal for me, certainly not as much as it did when I was young. I'll watch the Thanksgiving games every year - that's practically all there is to watch nowadays - but even those are a chore to sit through. As for the Super Bowl, well, I don't have any rooting interest in the teams, I have no fascination with the commericals, and I've no desire to become yet another pawn in the NFL's overall marketing plan. As the NFL has gotten bigger and more corporate, and the players more thuggish, it's taken away the simple pleasure that watching the games used to give me. On the other hand, I first experienced Canadian football as a little kid in the mid 60s when the Grey Cup was often shown on ABC's Wide World of Sports, and weekly games were syndicated on Saturday mornings on Channel 11. I suppose it got its hooks into me then, and the Canadian game has brought me enjoyment since then - that is, when I've been able to get it. It isn't easy, but thanks to Altitude Sports & Entertainment and DirecTV, I manage.

Football fans probably know more about the CFL than they think. A number of NFL greats have Canadian roots: Bud Grant, the legendary Minnesota Vikings coach, won four Grey Cups as coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Joe Kapp, the QB for Grant’s first Vikings Super Bowl team, won the Grey Cup with the British Columbia Lions. Joe Theismann, prior to starring for the Washington Redskins, quarterbacked the Toronto Argonauts to the Grey Cup final in 1971, Warren Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups as QB of the Edmonton Eskimos from 1978 to 1982 before going to the NFL, Doug Flutie won three Grey Cups as QB, first for the Calgary Stampeders and then for Toronto, and Jeff Garcia, who went on to fame with the San Francisco 49ers, was Flutie’s successor as QB in Calgary. Marv Levy, before coaching the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls, took the Montreal Allouettes to three Grey Cups. Before the NFL became such a big business, there actually wasn’t that much difference in the money being offered, but while NFL salaries have exploded, many Canadian players still hold down jobs during the off-season to make ends meet.

The Grey Cup, like the Stanley Cup in hockey, started out as a donated trophy to go to the outstanding team in Canada. Like the Stanley Cup, the trophy assumed a life of its own, having shared some of the same eccentric adventures (stolen, burned, broken, sat on, and held for ransom), and in time came to be viewed as the Holy Grail of the sport, bigger than the league which held it. Just as the Stanley Cup predates the formation of the NHL, the Grey Cup came into existence long before the CFL, having been donated by the Governor General of Canada, Earl Grey, in 1909. For many years, the trophy was competed for by professional and amateur teams alike, and at one time there were at least three leagues vying for it through a series of interlocking playoffs.

Over time, two leagues came to dominate the competition: the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union, popularly known as the “Big Four” and comprising teams in eastern Canada, and the Western Interprovincial Football Union, which (as the name suggests) was based in western Canada. By 1954 college teams had ceased to compete for the Cup, and when the Ontario Rugby Football Union withdrew, the two remaining leagues came together in 1956 to form the Canadian Football League. The Cup has gone to the champion of that league ever since.

The Grey Cup is an event that brings eastern and western Canada together, a big party with fans travelling to the game from throughout the country, and there's a carnival atmosphere throughout the week in the host city. (Until the early 70s the game was played on Saturday afternoon, giving those travelers a chance to take the train to the game site.) Over the years it became more and more like a zoo, starting, as Wikipedia notes, “in 1948, when fans of the Calgary Stampeders dressed in western gear, square danced, flipped flapjacks, partied in the streets of Toronto and rode a horse through the lobby of the posh Royal York Hotel.

The week’s festivities now include a parade on Saturday, a beauty pageant (with eight contestants from the league’s cities competing to become “Miss Grey Cup), and an awards banquet, where the league’s major hardware is given out. Unlike the Super Bowl, which over the years has become an exercise in debauchery and commercialism to the point where the game itself is usually an afterthought, the game always was the thing at the Grey Cup, although even there you’ve got big name talent performing at the halftime show, and the game has long since been moved to prime time on Sunday night.

The Grey Cup is usually held during our Thanksgiving weekend - purely coincidental, since Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October - but, like us, with football and turkey. The schedule has always been longer in Canada, with teams playing 14 and 16 games long before NFL schedules were expanded; each team currently plays 18 games, which does make for something of a redundant season since there are only eight teams, and six of them make the playoffs. Players in the NFL complain about the grueling schedule, but in Canada well into the 90s it was not uncommon for teams to play twice in one week. In fact, up until the late 70s the East and West Divisions each had their own method of playoffs, and the Western Final was a best two-out-of-three affair, with the games being played on Saturday, Wednesday, and Sunday (if necessary) of one week. The Eastern Final was just as unusual, with the top two teams in the East playing a two-game, total-points series. Now, sadly, the playoffs are far more uniform, with single-elimination games bringing the two division winners to the Grey Cup.

If the history of the Cup has been colorful, the games themselves have been equally unique, with many of them identified by some kind of weather phenomenon. There was the Mud Bowl in 1950, played on a field that had been deeply rutted by equipment used to plow off a week's worth of heavy snow; the infamous Fog Bowl in 1962, when a heavy fog that came into Toronto from off Lake Ontario forced the game to be stopped and the final nine minutes played the following day; the Wind Bowl in 1965, when winds of 50 mph forced Winnipeg to take three safetys rather than try to punt the ball into the gale; and the Snow Bowl in 1996, played in Hamilton in a driving snowstorm. There have been female streakers, controversal plays, miraculous upsets and near upsets - in 1981, an Ottawa team that had only one five games during the regular season and was quarterbacked by future U.S. politician J.C. Watts, came within seconds of upsetting Edmonton.

This evening's Grey Cup is being played in Toronto for the first time since 1992, and for a long time it looked as if the hometown Argos (the oldest professional football team in existence, dating back to 1873) would be right there in the big game. After a disastrous 2-6 start, the team won 9 of its final 10 games to claim first place in the East. They just couldn’t get it together last Sunday, however, being jeered off the field by the home fans after falling 19-10 to the second-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Winnipeg’s opponent from the West: the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who finished in second place in the West but upended the defending Grey Cup champion British Columbia Lions 26-17. The Bombers have a long and outstanding Grey Cup record, having won the Cup 10 times in 22 attempts. The Riders have a somewhat less distinguished history, with only two Cup victories in 17 tries.

Saskatchewan had the better season this year however, being led by their brilliant quarterback Kerry Joseph and a dynamic corps of receivers. In addition to surviving a late-season slump, the Bombers are further handicapped by the loss of their own quarterback, Kevin Glenn, who suffered a broken arm in last week's win over Toronto. However, you can't count Winnipeg out, especially with their dynamic running back Charles Roberts, who rushed for nearly 1,400 yards in a game dominated by passing.

For what it's worth, the tea leaves here say Saskatchewan wins their third Grey Cup tonight, but if there's one thing consistent about the history of the Cup, it's the unpredictability of it all. And that's why they play the game, which fans north of the border - and a few from the southern side - will be eagerly awaiting tonight.

UPDATE: We called it: Saskatchewan 23, Winnipeg 19. Read all about it here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More Sports on the Thanksgiving Holiday

By Bobby

While there will be many watching football on Thanksgiving, there will be thousands of others running around city streets across the country doing another fun Thanksgiving tradition that involves athletes, and mostly the everyday people.

Come Thanksgiving Day, there will be thousands of runners across the country (including football wives and not-shopping people) who will be hanging around the streets of their hometowns participating in a tradition since 1876 in Buffalo, NY (and even longer than Boston's Patriots Day marathon), and that is the Turkey Trot.

Considering how many people overindulge on food annually, those who are less likely to overinduge are those who have burned too many calories in turkey trots annually. Here in South Carolina, there are Turkey Trots in Myrtle Beach, Columbia (Boys and Girls Club), Hartsville, and Charleston (Knights of Columbus). All except Columbia (8,000 meters) are of the 5,000 meter type.

Atlanta has the longest of all turkeys; a 42,195 meter (five hour time limit) turkey trot, and an accompanying 21,097.5 meter (also with five hours) trot are held on Thanksgiving morning on the 1996 Olympic course (except for the start-finish area, which was demolished after the Olympics). The Atlanta Marathon is the older of the two major marathons (the Internationale Nederlanden Grope Georgia Marathon, which started in the past year, is newer and is more "elite", but is not as prestigious as the Atlanta Marathon because of the Atlanta course's rich heritage) and was moved to Thanksgiving in 1981, and in the mid-1990's went to the Olympic course which the organising Atlanta Track Club crafted for the Olympics.

So when people are waking up on Thanksgiving morning, they may be surprised to see thousands of runners in cities across the country doing turkey trots. If you're really fast and an "elite" runner you might even win aThanksgiving turkey, pies, or even be greeted by a live turkey grand marshal (and no, that turkey is never slaughtered; often that turkey is bred to be a grand marshal and greets runners in the annual trot).

As a five-time Turkey Trotter (Charleston 2002, Hartsville 2003-04, Columbia all three years, 2005-present), it might just be the most fun anyone can imagine playing sports on Thanksgiving in that they are running on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

Back in the days before television, computers and iPods - or any other device which made spectators of us all - people amused themselves by reading, painting, making music and performing by reciting poems and speeches. Children were expected to be able to memorize a poem - even a long one - and recite it, complete with correct intonation, as well as the proper gestures.

In 1910, when she was 11-years-old, my grandmother received for Christmas a newly-published book of stories, speeches and poems of the last century entitled The New American Speaker. Besides selections for every holiday, including Washington's Birthday, there were readings categorized as patriotic, religious, humorous, and one called "temperance." We're not talking self-control, we're talking about the evils of demon rum. In any event, I don't know whether she ever performed any of the selections - or even read the book - but it has survived and has been in my possession for years.

Many of the items in the book may be considered corny by today's standards, but it's interesting to look back on a time when we didn't have to be as wary about our displays of patriotism, religion in the public square or celebrations of holidays. Here are two poems about Thanksgiving. The first is by Griswold North, about whom I know nothing and the other is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who is, well, Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Emerson especially might make a nice thing to read around the dinner table before everyone begins the feeding frenzy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The Puritans' Thanksgiving by Griswold North

They thanked their God because once more
The fevered death had passed them by;
Though still it lurked behind the door.

They thanked their God that from on high
Had come abundant food and drink;
Their sunken faces gave the lie.

They thanked their God with tears to think
The perils of the night grew less;
And fierce eyes watched them at the chink.

They thanked their God and begged him bless
Their scanty lands, and ease their care.
And we who hold the answered prayer -
We keep the name of thankfulness.

We Thank Thee by Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

For blue of stream and blue of sky;
For pleasant shade of branches high;
For fragrant air and cooling breeze;
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Will You Take Gravy With Your Football?

By Mitchell

Thanksgiving is a time of many traditions – family, food, and football. With the exception of New Year’s Day, I don’t think there’s any holiday more closely associated with a sport than Thanksgiving Day is with football. You’re going to be reading a lot about football this week – later on, we’ll be taking a look at this Sunday’s Grey Cup, Canada’s football championship – but right now we’ll settle for one day, and the history that goes with it.

Football has been around on Thanksgiving almost as long as the game has been around. According to this site (which you have to take with a grain of salt; at the very least there seem to have been some English translation challenges) college football championships on Thanksgiving were common by the late 1870s. By the mid-1890s, there were over 5,000 Thanksgiving Day football games across the nation. Most of these games were played between rival high schools or colleges – some of them were even exhibitions, played after the teams’ regular seasons had ended. Football on Thanksgiving was not without controversy, as this story indicates - some thought the game cheapened the sacredness of a day that was meant to give thanks.

As professional football grew in popularity, it was natural that the pro game would appear on Turkey Day as well. Throughout the early days of the NFL, it seems as if almost every team had a game on Thanksgiving. One of the most significant pro games in history was played on Thanksgiving 1925, when the college great Red Grange made his professional debut for the Chicago Bears. Playing before a Wrigley Field crowd of 36,000 – at the time, the largest ever to see a pro football game – Grange’s Bears played their cross-town rivals, the Chicago Cardinals, to a scoreless tie. With this game, both the NFL and its Thanksgiving Day tradition were here to stay.

The NFL website has this great page on the origins of Detroit's Thanksgiving tradition, where the Lions have played every Thanksgiving since 1934; a large part of my childhood holiday memories consist of getting up early on Thursday morning to watch the Detroit Thanksgiving parade on CBS, followed by the morning kickoff of the Lions game. Now, as any football fan can tell you, the Lions haven't been very good very often, and their Thanksgiving Day game is frequently the only time all year they're seen on national television. We are assured by the announcers that the Lions really get up for this game, knowing that it's their one chance to be seen nationwide, and on occasion the Leos really do surprise us.

They certainly surprised the Green Bay Packers in 1962. The Pack and the Lions had played every Thanksgiving since 1951, in a game that had become a tradition. Lombardi's 1962 Packers were perhaps the greatest Packer team of all time; they stormed through six preseason games undefeated, won 13 of 14 regular season games, and bested the New York Giants to claim the NFL title. Their only loss that season was - why else would I bring it up? - to the Lions on Thanksgiving. In one of the most storied Turkey Day games ever played, the Lions sacked Packers QB Bart Starr 11 times (including once for a safety) and totally dominated Green Bay en route to a 26-14 drubbing that wasn't nearly as close as the final score would indicate. (Appropos of the day, one sportswriter said it looked as if Roger Brown and Alex Karras, the Lions' two defensive stars, were ready to take Starr by the legs and make a wish.) It was said that Lombardi was so furious about that loss that he ended the annual Thanksgiving game against the Lions; the teams would play to a lackluster 13-13 tie in 1963 (three days after JFK's funeral) and would not play again on Thanksgiving until 1984.

I was too young for that Packers game, but I remember other classic and not-so-classic moments from Detroit: 1965, when Johnny Unitas led the Colts to a 24-24 tie (I don't know why that games sticks in the memory, but it does - I have a picture of it in one of my scrapbooks); the 1968 game, played in a sea of mud, as Eagles kicker Sam Baker booted four field goals to give Philadelphia a 12-0 victory; 1969, when in the middle of a snowstorm the Vikings' Jim Marshall picked off a pass and then flung it blindly over his shoulder to teammate Alan Page, who took it the rest of the way for a touchdown as the Vikings routed the Lions 27-0 Minnesota win. Frankly, the game lost some of its luster for me in the mid 70s, when the Lions headed indoors to the Silverdome - as you can see, so much of the game's mystique came from the elements; rain and cold, the dying grass and the dusty field, the snow in the air competing with the snowy black-and-white screen, all on a glorious late autumn afternoon.

The other traditional NFL game takes place in Dallas, and they've had their share of memories as well - Clint Longley coming off the bench for an injured Roger Staubach to lead the Pokes past the Redskins in 1974 (it was the high point of Longley's career, which ended after a locker-room fight with Staubach; you don't take a swing at a legend and live to tell about it), Leon Lett botching a missed field goal during a rare snowstorm in 1993 (there's that weather again!), giving the Dolphins second life and a winning field goal - but the game hasn't had the same buzz for me. I probably have better memories of the AFL's annual Thanksgiving games - the Kansas City Chiefs were often the home team, and there was frequently a night game to go along with the matinee. (During the late 60s there were four pro games on Thanksgiving, two in each league - and that didn't count the college games!) In 1965 the Chargers and the Bills, my two favorite AFL teams, played to a 20-20 tie in the nightcap which, coming on top of the Lions-Colts tie earlier that day, might explain why I remember both of those games.

As we mentioned at the top of the article, Thanksgiving Day football really began with colleges, and for so many years Thanksgiving was rivalry day in college football. Texas-Texas A&M, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Oklahoma-Nebraska. just to name a few. Sadly, at least on Thanksgiving, college football has faded from the scene, decreasing so the pro game can increase. But perhaps the greatest football game ever played on Thanksgiving was a college game - the epic "Game of the Century" that truly lived up to its hype, the 1971 showdown between #1 Nebraska and #2 Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.

Both teams came into the game undefeated (and I mean totally undefeated; the smallest margin of victory either team had had that year was 13 points), and had been ranked #1 and #2 virtually the entire season. Nebraska had the nation's #1 ranked defense, Oklahoma the #1 ranked offense. Nebraska, the defending national champion, featured QB Jerry Tagge and future Heisman winner Johnny Rodgers; Oklahoma had future pro great Greg Pruitt and their QB, Jack Mildren, who was perhaps the most gifted ever to direct the famed Wishbone offense. Rodgers dazzled early with an electrifying 72 yard punt return for a touchdown to put the Cornhuskers ahead.

Mildren, who was magnificent the entire day, running for two touchdowns and passing for two more, led Oklahoma back from two double-digit deficits, the last time with an audacious fourth-down pass into the end zone that put the Sooners up 31-28 with seven minutes to play and sent the crowd into hysterics. The exhausted writers in the press box were already calling it the greatest game ever played, but there was still one more act to come. On a day that left everyone totally drained, Nebraska had enough strength to grind out one more drive, taking the ball 74 yards and scoring with under a minute to play to pull out a 35-31 victory. After the game, Dave Kindred of The Sporting News summed it up best, writing, "They can quit playing now, they have played the perfect game." I'd like to say that I saw it all, but the turkey effect took hold of me sometime in the second quarter, and I awoke just in time to see the final Nebraska touchdown that broke the fans' hearts, and my own. (I've got that game on DVD though, which isn't quite the same thing but isn't bad.)

Will we see anything to match that epic, which Dan Jenkins called "The Cream Gravy Game," this Thanksgiving? Probably not, although we should note that the Packers are again playing the Lions on Thursday, and the Pack has its best record at this stage in the season since - you guesed it - 1962, the year of the famed thrashing at the hands of the Lions. So perhaps there is reason to hope after all.

At any rate, I'm willing to bet that at some time during the day on Thursday you'll find yourself with a turkey drumstick in one hand and the TV remote in the other, and I hope you'll take a moment to let that channel light on a football game, and hoist the drumstick in a silent tribute to the marriage of football and Thanksgiving, one of the greatest traditions we have to offer.

Doing Justice to the Justice

By Mitchell

C.J. is the gossip columnist for the Star Tribune (also known as the worst major metropolitan newspaper in America). Judging by her Sunday column, she also fancies herself something of an expert on politics. Witness this, regarding CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin’s appearance in Minneapolis last week:

Toobin is author of "The Nine: The Secret World of the Supreme Court," which is getting good reviews. However, if you only have time to read something shorter from Toobin, make it "UNFORGIVEN: Why is Clarence Thomas so angry?" in the Nov. 12 New Yorker magazine.

After reading it in the company of a source, I wondered aloud if someday Americans would find out that Thomas was off his rocker the whole time he was a Supreme. "Don't we already know that?" the source said.

Funny, but we were thinking the same thing about C.J. . . .

For a more balanced (and more educated) perspective on Clarence Thomas, check out Thomas Sowell’s article at NRO. In particular, savor his comment about “the cardboard image created by the media,” since we get so much of that kind of writing courtesy of the Star Tribune.

Monday, November 19, 2007


By Drew

I'm not sure Mitchell would do this on his own, so I'd like to share that he has an article on the historic premiere of the television classic Amahl and the Night Visitors, which has been published at TVParty is probably the premiere site on the web when it comes to television (especially from a nostalgic point of view), so congratulations, Mitchell!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Political Potpourri

By Mitchell

Some scattered odds and ends for the end of the week:

  • At Architecture & Morality, Relievedebtor writes the kind of article I love - why the New England Patriots are Ayn Rand's team. Now, I'm neither a fan of the Pats nor of Ayn Rand, but I think the point here is a good one - that in a PC world, it's refreshing to see a team with a single-minded commitment to winning and nothing else - and I thoroughly enjoy how he supports the argument.

  • Speaking of Ayn Rand, I've often cited Whittaker Chambers' landmark review of Atlas Shrugged to illustrate my points about the dangers inherent in Corporate America's adherence to the bottom line as their high altar, especially Chambers' assertion that capitalism, without a moral foundation, is no better than any other -ism. What's been frustrating, though, is that I've never felt I've been able to adequately paraphrase Chambers' eloquent argument. Now I don't have to try; on the recent 50th anniversary of the publication of Rand's book, National Review reprinted the essay, which appeared in their December 28, 1957 issue. And here, I believe, is the quote that summarizes Chambers' feelings on the matter:

    At that point, in any materialism, the main possibilities open up to Man. 1) His tragic fate becomes, without God, more tragic and much lonelier. In general, the tragedy deepens according to the degree of pessimism or stoicism with which he conducts his “hopeless encounter between human questioning and the silent universe.” Or, 2) Man’s fate ceases to be tragic at all. Tragedy is bypassed by the pursuit of happiness. Tragedy is henceforth pointless. Henceforth man’s fate, without God, is up to him, and to him alone. His happiness, in strict materialist terms, lies with his own workaday hands and ingenious brain. His happiness becomes, in Miss Rand’s words, “the moral purpose of his fife.”

    Here occurs a little rub whose effects are just as observable in a free-enterprise system, which is in practice materialist (whatever else it claims or supposes itself to be), as they would be under an atheist socialism, if one were ever to deliver that material abundance that all promise. The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure, with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit.

    I couldn't have said it any better and, now, I don't have to.

  • A week or so ago at 2Blowhards, Donald made an astute observation that I hadn't previously considered. His points:

  • Fairly often I come across the assertion that "homophobes" are actually repressed homosexuals.
  • Now let's generalize and posit that anyone with a strong dislike of some form of human behavior secretly harbors such behavior himself.
  • Therefore, it would be perfectly correct to assert that people who hate Republicans are really repressed GOPers.

  • You gotta like that, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

This poem by John McCrae (1872 - 1918) may be the most famous - and most often quoted - poem about the Great War, about all war. In tribute to this past Armistice Day, and to all the veterans, alive and dead, let's not forget the terrible price war exacts. And let's appreciate what the brave men and women who have served, sacrifice for us, no matter how we feel about any given war.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How a Sport Changed: Mancini’s Fatal Fight

By Bobby

November 13, 1982.

In 1982, college football was regulated on television to one supposedly national broadcast, but ABC restricted coverage of games to just one regional game, similar to today’s ESPN regionalized broadcasts, and it was not until 1984 when major conferences broke off to form the College Football Association for television broadcast rights. (That was disbanded after 1994; starting in 1995, conferences set their own television rights; today, only the Southeastern Conference has a guaranteed nationally televised game of the week, because of the SEC’s deal with CBS; the ACC, Big 12, Pac-10, Big Ten, and Big East, the “BCS Conferences,” have regional games on the ESPN Broadcast Network, and one selected game is the ESPN Game of the Week, but varies by conference.) As a result, television did not air college football the way they have in today’s television.

Meanwhile, the National Football League was on strike, and the television networks filled the void with boxing telecasts. Professional boxing dominated network television for most of the fifty-seven day strike, with teams such as Marv Albert and Ferdie Pacheco (NBC), Tim Ryan, Gil Clancy, and Ray Leonard (CBS) dominating the airwaves calling boxing matches. (ABC was a one-man show with Howard Cosell calling boxing matches – no analysts.)

That led to one of the most infamous fights in the history of the sport, twenty-five years ago on this day. CBS had the World Boxing Association Lightweight Championship bout between Ray Mancini (Youngstown, OH) and Duk Koo Kim (South Korea) on this, what was the final weekend without NFL football as a byproduct of the 57-day strike.

Kim, the South Korean challenger, had fought 19 fights, all in Asia, and struggled to make weight (135 pounds) for the fight at Caesars Palace, and wrote in Hangul on his hotel room, “Live or Die,” and had a miniature coffin placed in the hotel.

The fight was regarded as one of the best battles in the sport of boxing for much of the first twelve rounds; Kim had only been to 12 rounds twice; Mancini had five matches of 12 or more rounds (1 of 12, 1 of 14, 3 of 15). That led to Mancini’s pummeling of Kim in the 13th round, and when the fight continued into the 14th round, Mancini sent Kim to the canvas, who recovered, but referee Richard Greene stopped the bout.

Kim collapsed into a coma shortly after the fight, and had emergency brain surgery. It was not to be, however; Kim was taken off life support and died five days later.

Controversy over the fight would dominate for the next four weeks. A week after Kim’s death, a bout between Larry Holmes and Randall (Tex) Cobb was so lopsided that ABC’s Howard Cosell blasted the referee of that fight, knowing the circumstances of the previous week that greatly affected him. Two weeks after Holmes-Cobb, the WBA Heavyweight Championship fight between Michael Dokes and Mike Weaver, with Joey Curtis as referee, ended in severe controversy, also at Caesars Palace. The Nevada State Athletic Commission that governs the sport in the state warned all boxing officials to be aware of a fighter’s health at all times after noticing Greene did not do an adequate job of it during the Mancini-Kim fight. Curtis did by stopping the Dokes-Weaver fight at 1:03 of the first round when he thought Weaver was in severe trouble. A rematch was ordered when officials questioned why Curtis had stopped the fight early, which turned out was the byproduct of the Mancini-Kim fight fatality.

Fourth months later, Kim’s mother committed suicide, and by July of 1983, referee Greene did the same.

In the meantime, modern boxing regulations reduced the length of championship fights from 15 to 12 rounds, adopted the Standing Eight Count, permitted the referee and ring physician both to stop fights, and popularized the three-knockdown rule.

Sport can often change with major moments. The Mancini-Kim fight showed an example, twenty-five years ago today, how a sport can be affected, and be overhauled, by one major incident, such as this tragedy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Norman Mailer, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

Who says tough guys don’t dance? Norman Mailer danced with the best of them, and he didn’t give a fug whether you liked it or not. Oh, he had the talent, all right; and every once in a while he actually showed it, as with the Pulitzer-winning “The Executioner’s Song,” the fact-as-fiction story of Gary Gilmore. He liked to play tough and talk tough and maybe he was; he head-butted Gore Vidal once, stabbed his second wife after a party, and ran for mayor of New York, hardly an act for sissies.

But there was no dancing around the fact that he was also egotistical, egocentric, arrogant, gruff, self-aggrandizing, self-indulgent, and less talented than his own opinion. CNN called him a drama king, but he was a drama queen as well. He was over the top with his own lefty pronouncements, often spectacularly uneducated on the topics he discussed, and frequently acted as if calling attention to himself was far more important than the quality of what he wrote – and what’s it to you if he was? He was a blowhard who didn’t care if you blew back. He danced with his talent, a dance that often fooled others into overlooking the fact that there was more style than substance in his words. In reality, there should have been more than met the eye, but when the eye blinked that was all there was.

Maybe he even thought he was tough enough for the Grim Reaper, but it caught up with him this weekend at the age of 84, and this was one dance in which he didn't do the leading. And the toughest thing about it all is that he could have been better than he was, even if he never wound up being as good as he thought he could have been. The lesson, to all writers and tough guys and everyone else out there, is to not leave it on the table. Don’t be left when the clock strikes zero asking what might have been.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Armistice Day

By Mitchell

Until 1954, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, a day set to commemorate the end of World War I (or, as it was simply known then, The War). More precisely, it marks the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time at which the Armistice was signed.

For a time starting in 1968, Veterans Day was observed in October. It was a part of the Uniform Holidays Bill, which - for those of you who, like me, are old enough to remember when both Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday were holidays - standardized the idea of the Monday holiday and the three-day weekend. The afformentioned presidential birthdays were wrapped up into one (popularly called Presidents' Day, although as we've mentioned before the legal name is still Washington's Birthday observed), while Memorial Day and Columbus Day were moved to the nearest Mondays. Veterans Day, because of its relative closenes to Thanksgiving, was moved all the way to October, a month that needed its own three-day weekend.

The reception to this wasn't very good, especially among veterans' groups who realized that November 11 actually meant something. Most states returned to observing November 11, and in 1978 the Federal government did likewise. (They had to wait a couple of years before doing so to give the calendar publishers time to catch up.)

In Canada and the U.K., the day is called Remembrance Day which is probably a more appropriate name for it. The name carries a certain solemnity, an echo of years gone by and events that, while long past, will never be forgotten. We're not very good at remembering history any more, and so we seldom learn from it. So as we honor the vet today, it's not a bad idea to remember those musty pages in old history books that tell the stories of times that were larger than those who were a part of it. That, as well, is something we should remember.


Armistice Day

Don't jeer because we celebrate
Armistice Day,
Though thirty years of sorry fate
Have passed away.
Though still we gaurd the Sacred Flame,
And fly the Flag,
That World War Two with grief and shame
Revealed--a rag.

For France cannot defend to-day
Her native land;
And she is far to proud to pray
For helping hand.
Aye, though she stands amid the Free,
In love with life,
No more her soil will shambles be
In world-war strife.

Still we who tend the deathless Flame
Of Verdun speak;
It is our glory and our shame,
For we are weak.
We have too much of blood and blight
To answer for . . .
No, France will never, never fight
Another war!

Robert W. Service (1953)


America the Beautiful

O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

Katharine Lee Bates (1895)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

Every source seems to agree that Walter de la Mare was born in 1873. However, his date of death seems to be as shrouded in mist as his poetry. Alternately given as 1953, 1956, and 1958, the Random House dictionary says 1956, and I'm going to assume that the spirit of Bennett Cerf would certainly know these things.

A prolific writer, de la Mare produced poetry, short stories, fiction, non-fiction and edited anthologies. His poetry tended to be mystical and dark, his name sometimes mentioned along side Blake and Poe. De la Mare himself talked about "imagination." The "childlike" imagination was visionary, internalized and intuitive while the "boylike" or adult imagination was intellectual, external and logical. De la Mare didn't say one was better than the other, but a look at his poems might show that he was very much caught up in the nighttime world of dreams and visions.

Chronologically part of the collection of modern poets we've been looking at , de la Mare was stylistically more of the age of, say, Browning, to whom he was related on his mother's side. Probably his most famous poem is "The Listeners," published in 1912. Many of the poems and stories he wrote were for children, and perhaps he wasn't thought of as a more serious poet because of it. However, even his children's work had a dark side to it. Fantasy often does.

I especially like the end of this poem because, whether it means to or not, it perfectly describes what happens when a great phrase or line comes to you in a reverie or dream, but when you wake, it disappears like a wisp of smoke. Darn, that could have been the line that led to literary immortality!


In the woods as I did walk,
Dappled with the moon's beam,
I did with a Stranger talk,
And his name was Dream.

Spurred his heel, dark his cloak,
Shady-wide his bonnet's brim;
His horse beneath a silvery oak
Grazed as I talked with him.

Softly his breast-brooch burned and shone;
Hill and deep were in his eyes;
One of his hands held mine, and one
The fruit that makes men wise.

Wondrously strange was earth to see,
Flowers white as milk did gleam;
Spread to Heaven the Assyrian Tree,
Over my head with Dream.

Dews were still betwixt us twain;
Stars a trembling beauty shed;
Yet--not a whisper comes again
Of the words he said.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Timberwolves, Journalism, and the End of Democracy As We Know It

By Steve

This may be a bit convoluted, and I’ll ask you to hang in there with me on this, but I think that when I was watching the Minnesota Timberwolves game for a few minutes the other night, I noticed why democracy may be in great peril in this country.

As I clicked through channels I discovered the rebuilt Woofies enjoying their opening night festivities. The announcers (Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen, but I don’t want to name any names) were ebullient and optimistic. At one point Hanneman even lauded the large and enthusiastic first game crowd, even as the camera shot showed two somewhat lethargic middle-aged guys surrounded by six empty seats. Whatever.

The announcer’s enthusiasm quickly started to grate on me, though, when a fairly nondescript layup by one of the new, nameless, faceless Wolves was hailed as a good reason why his contract had been extended by management just a few days earlier.

Then it hit me again, like I should have forgotten this for a second. These are not game announcers or sports journalists. They are paid pr hacks employed by the Wolves to put across their product (and hopefully fill a few more seats for the next game). The idea that you are going to get honest analysis went out the window a long time ago, and I think that window may now be shut forever.

And that’s what’s scary, because I don’t think any of us have the long-term will, energy or mental perseverance to keep making that distinction in today’s media. Is it possible that everything we are hearing is spin meant to sell products. I mean everything. That there really is NO honest, objective, journalism left, anywhere? (Help, I’m feeling pessimistic.) Forget sports, who really cares about where that mess is going, but what about in politics, and in civic debate, and in the things that really matter? (I almost added in religious life, but that’s a scary topic for another day).

So, my point, my question really, if you’d like to chime in, is are we getting the real scoop anywhere about anything? If we aren’t, if we’ve lost the objective power of a free, unbiased media, we’re in big trouble. I mean, big trouble. The whole thing about Jefferson and the newspapers, right?

What do you think?

(On a lighter note, before this new depressing thought gets too much attention, my announcer friends did add a smile before I found my remote. Mr. Petersen, who I believe graduated from some of our finest local schools, talked about one player suffering through, and I am sure I heard this, “a menagerie of injuries.” What exactly would that be, I wondered? My colleague Mr. H, the wunderkind with the steel-trap mind - whatever that means said, “well, maybe he had a charley horse. Followed by a calf pull.” Pretty bad, if it wasn’t so funny.

So I got to thinking, what other “animal” injuries do people have? Anybody have any ideas?)

Thanks for listening.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Guy Fawkes Day

By Drew

Today is Guy Fawkes Day (or, as Wikipedia points out, more appropriately Guy Fawkes Night), which at least at the outset represented one of the most anti-Catholic commemorations you could imagine. As Richard Brookhiser points out over at NRO, "November 5 was celebrated in New England as Pope Day (that is, Anti-Pope Day). The neighborhoods of Boston would make images of the Pope, the Jacobite Pretender, and Guy Fawkes, and burn them; there were also fun-filled brawls in which one neighborhood's gang would try to steal the images of another."

Which is why it's nice to be reminded once again that, while there are certainly contradictions among the Founding Fathers with regard to their opinions on religion, they understood the importance of religion in the lives of the colonists, and the respect that it was due. As Brookhiser continues,

Washington banned these festivities in his General Orders, November 5, 1775 (see the George Washington Papers website at the Library of Congress to read the original). He calls it "a ridiculous and childish custom," especially at a time when we are "solliciting, and have readily obtain'd, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada." We were hoping to drive the British out of Canada; our effort would fail before the walls of Quebec on New Year's Eve.

That was realpolitik; more interesting, and admirable, was the decision of Washington, and many other founders, to attend mass during the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. George Mason didn't like the ringing of the bell, which he compared to the signal for raising the curtain at a puppet show. But he, and the others, went to show that these were good Americans too.

Brookhiser notes that of all the Founders, the one prominent anti-Catholic was John Jay. He tried to have anti-Catholic provisions in New York's first constituion but was stopped by Gouverneur Morris. It wasn't that Morris was a particular friend of Catholics; he "thought Catholics were superstitious, stupid, and immoral (the father of his girlfriend's child was an RC bishop), but he thought religious belief and worship were beyond the reach of the state."

"[B]eyond the reach of the state" - in other words, as many of us have said for a long time, the separation of church and state was designed to protect the church as much as, if not more than, the state. A revisionist viewpoint, that. But this does go to show the greatness and the vision of the Founders, who understood much more clearly the nature of this country they created than did the leaders who inherited it from them.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Robert Goulet, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

Some might remember him as the star of "Bob Goulet's Cajun Christmas;" to others he was "Mr. G" on ESPN's promotions for college basketball; and those us of an age will recall his muffing the lines to the National Anthem at the Clay-Liston title fight in 1965. (An incident he always handled graciously and with humor, pleading that he was, after all, from Canada; true enough, although he was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts.)

But Robert Goulet was also a star on Broadway, a frequent guest of Sullivan and Paar and Carson, a star of countless TV specials, and an unforgettable Lancelot in his most famous musical, Camelot. It was during the 60s that he became a familiar face to millions, and it is that image that I chose to go with in remembering him, in the week that he died of pulmonary fibrosis at age 73 while awaiting a lung transplant.

He had a smooth voice, a winning presence, an engaging personality. Many of his best moments, as in Scrooged and the ESPN commercials, came when he was spoofing himself. He was always a delight to see and listen to, whether voicing Jaune-Tom in the cartoon Gay Purr-ee, or himself in The Simpsons. He was the kind of star that doesn't seem to be around anymore, and the entertainment business is the poorer for it.

In If Ever I Would Leave You, his most famous song from Camelot, he sang to Guinevere,

But if I'd ever leave you,
It couldn't be in autumn.
How I'd leave in autumn I never will know....

Neither do we.

Wish I'd Written That

By Drew

"In every man's past there's some dirt. It can be dirt that belongs to the past and not to the present. But it can be dirty enough to use to smear a person, smear him so good that he'll have to retreat from the public gaze. You aren't tied up in politics like I am so you haven't got any idea how really rotten it is. Everybody is out for himself and to hell with the public. Oh, sure, the public has its big heroes, but they do things just to make the people think of them as heroes. Just look what happens whenever Congress or some other organization uncovers some of the filthy tactics behind government . . . the next day or two the boys upstairs release some big news item they've been keeping in reserve and it sweeps the dirt right off the front page and out of your mind."

- Mickey Spillane, One Lonely Night

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