Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Hollow Men

The Hollow Men
by T.S. Eliot

Part V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
                                For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
                                Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
                                For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Feels like £1,000,000 dropped down and I have nothing

Poor Bobby lost everything on the seventh question. After wheezing by six questions correctly, he misses the seventh question on Channel 4's spectacular format (but didn't succeed in the US, unfortunately) "The Million Pound Drop," placing all £1,000,000 on a question, only to see it all drop down.

And this banner is what I must fly . . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

The transcriber didn't do it right

Transcribers are an important part of every industry that requires speaking. Whether it is in court, or in interviews, they are usually reliable. But in reading a transcript following Sunday's Toyota / Save Mart 350, a big flub came from the transcriber at Sonoma.

Read it and see if you find the mistake from a Kurt Busch transcript after his first podium of the 2012 Sprint Cup season..

Thanks to Kyle and KPM yesterday; to get me back and forth on a nice, private jet that allowed me to rest up and be prepared for today. Yesterday was not quite the day we needed. We needed one more car with the Monster Energy car to get up there with the nix and get that Top 5 finish or even battle with Nelson Piquet, who is a friend of mine. It's amazing to see a Formula 1 guy come in and win right away in a Nationwide car. The Nationwide race was stacked yesterday. And of course, everybody wants to be in Cup, because this is where the best racers race.

Today we came home third. Chevrolet and Monster Energy and tag his or her, our three big brands with us this year I'm a bit choked up. I just made a little mistake there in turn 11. Those tires have never been bolted down, ever and I clipped a set of tires and it broke the front suspension and the rear panel bar and I couldn't compete for the win after that; so a mistake there. Our guys, but if we pulled it into victory lane with all red car and no sponsor, here in California, I thought it was Team Tiger Blood with Charlie Sheen around (laughter).

I see the transcriber in the press room made at least two mistakes, and a third while not-so-subtle mistake, considering the Monster can still take a podium. Can you find them? 

Monday, June 18, 2012


Zonks, zonks zonks everywhere. We've had enough of this Administration replacing our military with a sexual deviancy indoctrination force. Now we see JCPenney show their utmost pushing of the agenda of a tiny minority that infiltrates everywhere. Not only are they using the sexual deviant whose promotion of the agenda led to an entire day of no television during my college days to push the firm, for Mother's Day they ran the “Heather has Two Mommies” gimmick, and now the two-fathers gimmick for Father's Day. We've gone out of control. When God's Word is not allowed but we can push deviants' agenda, what are we teaching? The sexual deviants' agenda is the Zonk behind Curtain Number One.

Wayne Root: Obama Copies Europe's Model of Decline.
Another Part of My Youth Gone. Former financial columnist Dan Dorfman dies at 82. A tribute on Fox Business' Dobbs Tonight?

Anti-Gun Types At It Again. The IAAF starter who will fire the pistol at the London Olympics was told during an athletics field day at a school in England not to use the pistol set to start the signature 100-metre dash in July at the event. Now why no starter's pistols when the rule requires one, although now many events have switched to electronics because of gun control regulations. Just for reference, a reaction time of .100 is a “perfect” reaction time. A reaction time of .099 or less is an automatic disqualification.
Are You Kidding Me? ESPN and the IFOCE recently renewed their contract for the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, with Paul Page and Richard Shea sitting atop Coney Island to call the contest, which will just under six times the time of three-class (3:39) or under four times as long as the four-class (5:27) of contests Mr. Page calls, as two ten-minute contests (divided by gender of the contestant) are to be called.

And . . . The demise of tennis continues. When Flushing Meadow comes to CBS, it will be the only major televised on network television. The push of the Les Internationaux de France to the new NBCSN on Monday morning means three of tennis' four majors had finals on pay television, as Wimbledon is now pay-only for the next eleven years, meaning the CBS Finals (which they hope will be prime-time) will be the only ones left. Golf's Open Championship is also pay only, and I wonder if the BCS four-team format will be ripe for an HBO PPV option.

Why Do The Past Two Stories Link Together? That's because Nathan's Famous has changed its start time to just after 3 PM in order for ESPN to show Wimbledon Gentlemen's Semifinals.

It's the U. S. Open. What Do You Expect? Webb Simpson wins the 112th U. S. Open with a score of 281 – +1. You're supposed to win it with a positive score over par. It's not regular golf!

And a Note. I have a dentist's appointment this week to see if my teeth will survive after a recent fracture of the tooth in a nasty crash on by road bike as a result of a triathlon training incident last month. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day

Play Ball!

Most of us who have read the blog will know that I was an 8th grader at Prep when a certain Randhawa girl was in 12th grade, and we know very well who she is today.

But today on Classic Sports Thursday, how many people know that George Herbert Walker Bush, in 1947, played on the Yale baseball team in the first two NCAA DivisioN I baseball tournaments, and the Bulldogs lost each time in the final, first to California at Berkley, and Southern California in the second year (and it was the first of twelve). Jackie Jensen, a future American League Most Valuable Player, was on the first Bears team.

The tournament was actually held on the campus at Western Michigan University's Hyames Field. After those two years, they moved to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in 1949, in 1950 it moved to its home for now its 63rd year, Omaha, with the first 61 seasons (1950-2010) at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium before its move to Toronto Dominion Ameritrade Park last year in downtown.

It's time for what has become one of the most exciting events in all baseball -- a championship that has been held annually since 1947 -- the only major professional level of baseball has been continuous that long save maybe a rookie league or two. (The current NPB title series has been played since 1950, and continuous; MLB sine 1995 thanks to labour, and most minor leagues since 2002, as most leagues' championship series were cancelled in 2001 as a result of the terrorist attacks.)

This year's storyline? Three in a row? C! A! R! O! L! I! N! A! Goooooooo-COCKS!

(Sorry, folks, had to say that . . . but when the ring says South Carolina, and you've enjoyed so much in Omaha after having been dry for centuries . . . )

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Modern Youth Thieves: Learned from Stealing Music to Stealing Expensive Merchandise?

There has been on news reports everywhere of a massive increase in grand larceny, burglaries, and numerous theft rings (copper, et al) by youth of this generation. The question came to my attention while pondering over it:

Has this generation that learned it was appropriate to steal television (illegal streaming via YouTube, et al), music (illegal file-sharing, something that I've learned through numerous clients causes trouble in computers), and software, and played a glorified game promoting such thuggery in Grand Theft Auto, and the prohibition on learning right and wrong through the secular humanist educational system that bars the teaching of Biblical standards, including the Ten Commandments, learned that stealing is perfectly appropriate because they started from stealing $15 albums, then $20 television programmes, and now anything from watching video games? Has this attitude of stealing little means they can steal more expensive merchandise now?

Wonder what values being taught on the media today have led to today's theft rings.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Organizers Admit Grand Prix of Venice Might Be a Stupid Idea

(VENICE, ITALY) Officials in this northeast Italian resort city acknowledged today that the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix of Venice was in danger of being cancelled, after all 24 cars plunged to the bottom of one of the city’s famed canals immediately after crossing the start line during today’s first round of time trials.

“There are still some bugs to work out in the course, unquestionably,” Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni acknowledged to reporters after race stewards showed the red flag, indicating a halt to further practice sessions. “But it is premature to suggest that the race may be postponed. We know there are always problems when an event such as this is run for the first time. “Venice has long been known as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and Formula One is the world’s greatest form of motor racing. The Grand Prix of Venice, which I promise will be run as scheduled, will give us a chance to show the world what our city is really made of.”

No drivers were seriously injured as a result of the multiple accidents, although Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was reportedly being treated for hypothermia.

Defending champion Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull is pulled
from the water following Friday's disasterous practice

As crews using heavy cranes worked to remove the cars, valued at upwards of $15 million each ($750 million Euro), from the paddock area near the Dorsoduro region, F1 major domo Bernie Ecclestone refused to concede defeat, saying that “48 hours is plenty of time to correct any of these little bumps in the road. Or ripples in the water, as the case may be.” Many Formula 1 fans, though, expressing their anger and frustration in various internet chat rooms, laid the blame for the “fiasco” at the feet of controversial race course designer Herman Tilke, who was responsible for the design of the Venice street course. “Tilke has given us another bland circuit, even worse than Abu Dhabi,” “ruapetrolhead564” wrote in a typical comment. “Only this time he replaced sand with water.”

Longtime F1 analyst Peter Windsor felt fans might be underestimating the adaptability of F1 pit crews. “We have some of the most brilliant engineers and technicians in the world working in Formula 1,” Windsor said. “If you ask them to come up with a solution, I’ve no doubt they’ll do it. I imagine Red Bull are probably working in their garages right now, fitting some sort of oar propulsion system to the blown rear diffuser. And McLaren – well, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d come to race weekend all prepared to fit the car’s side pods with some sort of pontoon if it was needed.” He refused, however, to comment on speculation that FIA officials might allow gondoliers to accompany the drivers during the race.

Despite the confidence of race promoters and F1 officials, most observers remained unconvinced. Former world champion driver Jackie Stewart spoke for many, shaking his head as he looked out over the course while the setting sun cast an orange glow on the waters lapping gently against the guard rails set up for the race. “This is what happens when money is allowed to be the overriding concern in motor sports, rather than safety. Let’s race on a street circuit in Venice, they say. Great idea. It will bring in lots of money and look great on television, which is all they care about. Only now do we see the fatal flaw in the plan, which is that Venice has no streets.”

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Here comes Big Red

I'll Have Another goes for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, and Frank Deford makes a reasonable case as to why we should hope he doesn't become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.

This is the longest stretch we've ever gone between Triple Crown winners; I came of age during the previous stretch, which ran 25 years - between Citation and Secretariat.  The mythos that built up as we saw horse after horse try and fail to win the Crown - Kauai King, Forward Pass, Canonero II - became incredibly compelling theater. In each of those years the governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, would show up at Belmont Park with the Triple Crown trophy, which after the heartbreaking failure would be packed away for at least another year, waiting for the next superhorse.

As I say, the drama was immense, and each year that the Crown remained unclaimed, each time another contender appeared at Belmont's post, it became moreso. You'd think, as Deford suggests, it would be even better for the sport for the buildup to continue. And yet, could there have been anything more compelling than the sight of Secretariat storming down the stretch in 1973, headed for the finish line and immortality?

We thought, after seeing this, that perhaps we'd never see anything like him again.  Then we had two more Triple Crown winners (Seattle Slew and Affirmed) during the decade of the 70s, and some might have thought maybe it wasn't such a big deal after all.

But as Saturday approaches, we remember the horses that have failed since Affirmed (11, or roughly one every three years), and we remember the world and race records that Secretariat set, and the way he set them, and the 31 lengths from first to second place in that 1973 Belmont Stakes.  And then we go back to the video for another look, to see if it really could have happened that way .

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spite his face

In case anyone's looking for a story for a new opera, I have a suggestion: Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny. I don't think anyone's done an opera of that yet.  And in the starring role of Captain Queeg, the Caine's insane master with an obsession about strawberries, I have the perfect casting: Peter Gelb.

Peter Gelb, you see, is the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, and a couple of weeks ago he made the extraordinary suggestion (read: order) that Opera News, the monthly magazine published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, stop reviewing productions done by the Met.  It seems as if Mr. Gelb was offended by some critical reviews of recent Met productions, and decided that the best way to combat this was to kill the messenger.

Criticism of Peter Gelb in this space is nothing new - you may recall his appearance on our Enemies List a couple of years ago.  And as a paying subscriber to Opera News, I read the specific pieces that appear to have been in question.  I remember thinking that at the time that hey were extraordinary pieces of criticism coming, as they did, from what many people consider the house organ of the Met.  And not only did I not see them as unfair, I agreed with them almost 100% - particularly Brian Kellow's admonition to the Met to start trusting its audience (summarized here).  While I'm sure this criticism had to hurt, especially since Robert Lepage's Ring has been Gelb's prize baby, neither of the articles said anything that hadn't been said already by other opera writers in many publications and forums. You'd think that Gelb might have taken this as a sign, but rather than admit he has no clothes, he chose to critics as best he could.

Predictably, the move backfired.  Such was the level of outrage (and, in many cases, vitriol), that Gelb was forced to resind his decision by the end of the day. This can only be good news for Opera News - as Terry Teachout commented, during the few hours that the ban was in effect:
In so doing, [Gelb] has guaranteed that nothing published in Opera News about the Met, be it positive or negative, will henceforth be taken at face value, and that no reputable music journalist will ever again agree to appear in its pages.
Now, I'll admit that Peter Gelb has done some things right.  The HD moviecasts, for example, have been a marvel.  But even within that silver lining there have been clouds, with more than one critic noting that the productions seem to be more and more geared toward the movie audience rather than the live audience at the Met, which makes for a very disappointing (and expensive) night at the opera.

Couple this with Gelb's desire to rid the Met of some of its most classic productions, such as the Zeffirelli staging of Tosca and the Schenk Ring, and replace them with vapid, minimalist settings; and the absence of James Levine, still suffering from poor health, and you have a situation where the Met has become, in the opinion of many, an increasingly stale institution.  Alex Ross discusses the Met's tarnished reputuation here. Gelb may be a brilliant marketer, but he seems singularly incapable of providing a steady hand on the tiller. (I particularly enjoyed Norman Lebrecht's suggestion that the men in the white coats may be coming to the door soon.)

And while on some level it's satisfying to see Gelb being savaged, ultimately I take no pleasure in it, because in the end we're not talking about one man alone, but an institution.  The Metropolitan Opera may not be the nation's best, or most creative, opera company - but it is its most visible. For many who were weaned on the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts, the Met is opera in America.  Perhaps it's time for the board of the Met to take a closer look at Gelb's management of the company, and whether this kerfuffle is just an abberation, or the shape of things to come.  Because when the Met is diminished, all of opera, and all of us, are just a little bit diminished as well. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jack Twyman, R.I.P.

Jack Twyman wasn’t the most famous Hall-of-Famer the NBA has ever produced. Not that he didn’t deserve to be in the HOF, for his stats suggest that he most certainly does. For years and years I thought he should be in the Hall; I would watch the names each year when they were announced, looking for his, and then when he was inducted in 1983, I missed it. I always thought that if anyone ever deserved to be in a Hall of Fame, it was Jack Twyman. And his greatness on the court was only part of the reason why.

He was a star at the University of Cincinnati before going on to a stellar career with the hometown Royals (who once were in Rochester, then Kansas City-Omaha, and now – for the time being – in Sacramento). He once scored 59 points in a game. He was a six-time all star, was (along with Wilt Chamberlain) the first player to average 30 points a game for an entire season, and when he retired in 1966 only Chamberlain had scored more points in a career than Twyman. But if anyone remembers a star from the Cincinnati Royals, it’s probably Oscar Robertson.

After he retired, Twyman became an analyst for ABC in their coverage of the NBA. His most famous call came when he announced Willis Reed’s appearance on the court prior to the start of the final game of the 1970 NBA Finals. But if anyone remembers an announcer from ABC’s coverage in the 60s and 70s, it’s probably Bill Russell.

It’s not that Jack Twyman didn’t do things well – but, like many quiet and unassuming people, it seems as if someone else always got more attention. But there was one thing that Jack Twyman did very, very well, and it’s why he’d belong in the Hall of Fame even if he didn’t have the stats for it. He also probably wished he’d never had to do it.

In 1958 the Royals had a player named Maurice Stokes, a gifted young man who looked every bit as if he were poised to become a superstar. He was the 1956 Rookie of the Year, his potential seemed limitless – and can you imagine a Royals team with Stokes, Twyman and Robertson? Had they played ever together, that team might still be calling Cincinnati home – and with a few championships to boot.
But in the last game of the 1958 regular season, against the Minneapolis Lakers, Stokes fell and struck his head on the floor. He was temporarily knocked out, but appeared to recover with no after effects. Three days later, following a playoff game, he suffered a seizure on the plane trip back to Cincinnati, and then fell into a coma. The diagnosis was “post-traumatic encephalopathy” – a brain injury that would leave him permanently paralyzed and unable to talk.

It was shocking enough that the vital, powerful Stokes would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair – if he even survived. Add to that the fact that, in an era when professional athletes generally had to work off-season jobs to make ends meet, Stokes was almost broke, with his only source of income now gone. His family lived in Pittsburgh, but he would have to remain, alone, in Cincinnati in order to qualify for workman’s compensation.

“Something had to be done,” Twyman, who lived in Cincinnati, would say years later, “and someone had to do it. I was the only one there, so I became that someone.” He would add that any teammate would have done the same thing, but nobody will know for sure because he was the one who did it.

Jack Twyman became Maruice Stokes’ legal guardian. He visited him every Sunday. He helped him to get workers’ compensation. He helped teach him to communicate by blinking his eyes to indicate individual letters. He organized a benefit basketball game, in which many of the NBA greats played, to offset the medical bills; it raised $10,000 in its first year. Along with his wife, he started a foundation to help not only Stokes but other needy former players. One donation included a note that said, “Where else but in America could I, a Jew, send money to you, a Catholic, to help a Negro?” It’s as good a definition of America as any that exists.

When Stokes recovered enough flexibility in his fingers to type, he wrote, “Dear Jack, How can I ever thank you?” But Twyman said that it was he who benefitted; whenever he felt down he would visit Stokes, who “never failed to pump me up.”

Stokes died of a heart attack in 1970, but Twyman’s work continued. The foundation raised several hundred thousand dollars, and the charity basketball game, which evolved into a golf tournament (insurance concerns, don’t you know) continued for decades. And there was one other thing important to Twyman – that his friend be remembered for what he loved, playing basketball. After years of campaigning, Stokes too was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. Twyman was there to accept the induction.

It’s probably no surprise that Twyman was a success in business as well; after working at ABC he ran a food wholesaler for 24 years, quintupled its earnings, and made more than $3 million when he sold it.
Jack Twyman died on Wednesday of blood cancer, 78 years old. His death – and life – should have merited saturation coverage on networks like ESPN, but I suppose he wasn’t colorful or controversial enough. But he did pretty well, didn’t he? Basketball star, successful announcer and businessman, world-class humanitarian.

Yeah, he was a hall of famer, all right.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A cultural outrage

If it isn't clear television executives lack logic at times, it was in full force Thursday night.

Disney chose to advance the dumbing down of the nation by choosing a pop-music pro-am, Duets, to air Thursday instead of, as it was in the past, live coverage of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on network television, instead pushing the Bee to pay-television (ESPN Cable Network). Now what does this say about executives who think people will care more to watch four pop stars or composers sing in pro-am contests than watching the best of the best spellers spell the toughest words in the business? A show that is legally educational is pushed to low-audience numbers of niche-based pay television instead of network television as it was in the past makes no logic.

You've downgraded academic excellence in favour of the lowest common denominator.

Shame on you, Disney.
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