OCTOBER 24, 2016 EPOCH-MARKING DAY
Today is the big day!
Today we celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Teletheatre.
As H. Winfield Secor wrote in an 85-year-old article, October 24, 1931, will undoubtedly go down in history as the epoch-marking day when the world first saw Television billed as a feature in a regular theatre program. ...Theatre audiences, not to mention those in private homes, will consider television an everyday necessity, and expect to see as well as hear the latest news, and such exciting events as foot-ball games, on the television screen, at the moment they are occurring.
OCTOBER 20, 2016 A VISIT TO LOCK 8
OCTOBER 16, 2016 HAMMER-THROWER MAKES GOOD
OCTOBER 10, 2016 DOCTOR & MISTER MOVE TO MIDWEST
Each year more than 40,000 new MDs seek to complete their education with a residency somewhere. A non-profit organization matches each doctor with a position at a teaching hospital. However, the hospital may not be close to the doctor's current location.
So it was that Jan Olson, an Easterner in only her second year of marriage, found herself (and therefore her husband) assigned to a Midwestern city. Fortunately it was a city she knew well. But the couple had to pack up and move all their possessions ... even the grasshopper and the great white whale.
OCTOBER 6, 2016 SPORTS FROM TUESDAY
Even those of us who work at Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games were caught by surprise this week when the team suddenly announced that its building, until now known as the CONSOL Energy Center, would henceforth be the PPG Paints Arena.
Consol is losing money in the coal and gas industry, so now PPG will promote its paints by assuming the honor of paying for the naming rights. The structure which replaced the old Mellon Arena only six years ago is again getting new signage.
Weve been referring to the building as the Consol for short. We need a short version of the new name as well, because it would require too many syllables to say Im goin dahn to th Pea Pea Gee Paints Arena.
Some fans suggested we could call it the Paint Can or the Bucket. Theres little enthusiasm for either. However, the PPG Paints Arena is now the only arena in town, as the college basketball teams play at centers. We can refer to it as we did its predecessor!
Sorry, PPG. Were goin to call it simply th Arena.
Also Tuesday, Jack Nicklaus and many other friends of the late Arnold Palmer honored him at a memorial service in nearby Latrobe. For some reason, that reminded me of 1960.
At that years U.S. Open, although the amateur Nicklaus was leading by two shots with six holes to play, the professional Palmer charged to a two-stroke victory. However, my particular memory must have been from the Masters, which took place earlier in 1960. Our TV would have been tuned to a Columbus, Ohio, network affiliate, and as a 13-year-old, I remembered this moment as an example of local boy makes good.
My recollection is that during the final round, the TV coverage jumped ahead to the 18th green, where a blond, rather overweight young man was lining up his putt. The announcer said something like, Were going to cut away from the leaders briefly to show you this young amateur as he closes out his tournament. Hes only 13th on the leader board, but hes had a great week here at Augusta. Hes 20-year-old Jack Nicklaus, from Columbus, Ohio. He won the U.S. Amateur tournament last year, and people are calling him the best amateur golfer since Bob Jones. And listen to that applause. Remember the name: Jack Nicklaus. Youre going to be hearing a lot more from this young man in the future.
OCTOBER 2, 2016 NOSTALGIA TIME
Yesterday Eric D. Snider tweeted, Last time Trump paid taxes, a Clinton was in the White House, the economy was good, and Internet trolls didn't exist. Make America great again!
Of course, thats not exactly what the famous baseball cap is trying to tell us. What do you mean if you want to Make America Great Again? You want to turn back the clock to a time when real Americans ruled the world. When life was better for people like you, at least.
How far back? A good guess would be the middle of the twentieth century. Say the 1950s.
On the satellite radio channel called Willies Roadhouse I recently heard some classic country music from that era, including the first two songs below. They reveal that even in the twentieth century, people were dreaming of the good old days. People were dreaming of the manly South of the nineteenth century.
I had some trouble with my sweethearts pa,
Tennessee Stud, written by Jimmy Driftwood
One sad day Billy cried Ho, ho,
One day in 1878
Billy Bayou, written by Roger Miller
the winter of 65, we were hungry, just barely alive.
Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, written by Robbie Robertson
SEPTEMBER 29, 2016 DECISIONS, DECISIONS
But thats simplistic, because not all the reasons are equally important. Among the cons, the fact that you didnt like his sniffing during the debate even if you really really didnt like his sniffing should carry less weight than the fact that on many issues, he doesnt know what hes talking about.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 A MAJOR INVESTMENT OF TIME
As I grow older, Im gradually retiring, and this year Ive worked my fewest baseball telecasts since 1982. However, this past weekend the Washington Nationals visited the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I was behind the graphics keyboard for more than enough pitches to make up for what Ive missed. (While I was at it, I heard the MASN announcers invent the words exuberation and analyzation. They also quoted the classic lyric from Ozzy Osbourne, I'm going off the rails on a gravy train.)
Then yesterday we endured a very extended nine-inning ballgame, in the words of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. There was a benches-clearing fight, red uniforms scuffling with gold uniforms. There were many pitching changes frequently double switches. The Nationals averaged one pitcher per inning (pulling their starter after 56 pitches), and they employed 15 other players. Combined, the two teams used 17 pitchers, one shy of the Major League record for a nine-inning game, and a total of 45 players, also one shy of the Major League record. And they were on the field for 4:01. Pittsburghs loss once again dropped their record below .500.
Fortunately I did not work the telecast of the previous meeting between these two teams, an 18-inning marathon in Washington on July 17. If you include that game and Saturday's spraying of the celebratory champagne, the last four meetings have averaged 12 innings and 4:43. Enough!
SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 MY BROADWAY DEBUT
Thirty years ago I got an urgent phone call. CBS has a big live awards telecast coming up this Sunday, from a theater on Broadway in New York City. But they've got a problem animating their graphics. And you're the only one who can save the day!
SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 WHAT HAVE I MISSED?
When the TV listings tell me theres an episode coming up of a series I like, I set my DVR to record it. Then if I dont watch it live, I can watch it later. However, theres no urgency. I find better things to do, and the recordings pile up.
For a given series, the DVR sorts all the episodes into a file folder. Lately, with some of these containing 10 or more programs, Ive been systematically paring them down by watching the oldest show from the fullest folders. Ive just cleared the seventh archived Big Bang Theory. Now no folder contains more than six episodes.
But many contain exactly six. To be precise, there are 29 such six-packs! The oldest was recorded between June 24 and July 29, 2015. I still have a lot of catching up to do.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 FIRE UP THE ZAMBONI
They say that time passes more quickly as one gets older.
It was only three months ago that Pittsburgh held a huge parade to honor the Penguins for winning hockeys Stanley Cup. But our brief summer hockey respite is already at an end. Its time to start making ice again. The Consol Energy Center hosted a couple of World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament exhibitions last night, and the Penguins first preseason game is in Detroit a week from Tuesday.
Long ago when I was in high school, snapping whippers, our vacation time between athletic seasons was longer than three months. It was nine months. We never wearied of a sport.
Right now, many are growing tired of Major League Baseball especially those of us who follow the Pittsburgh Pirates, losers of 13 of their last 16 games. The season started with spring training seven months ago and isn't scheduled to end until Game 7 of the World Series on November 2.
Bad news: I asked the groundhog whether autumn is just around the corner. He glanced at his shadow and said no, were going to have six more weeks of baseball.
9, 2016 MOVING
Ive prepared another installment of letters written during the early 1970s by the young lady of my acquaintance who was enrolled in med school and played the autoharp, went camping, and drew mermaids.
One highlight involved the wee hours of January 30, 1971. After holding a party for 11 people, Jan and her roommate went out for a 2½-mile walk through eight inches of fresh snow. Then the snow got heavier. They decided to spend the rest of the night in a guys room. Within two years, one of them had married the guy.
Other highlights from these letters:
The times, they were a-changing.
And, in the fall of 1972, Jan announced her plans to be married. Not to me, of course. She and I always had been friendly, but we knew we werent right for each other. Nevertheless, she took care to let me down easy.
This latest collection of correspondence is called Letters from Jan: Onward.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2016 FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
A century ago, the game of football was played by college and high school students on autumn Saturday afternoons. Then many high schools installed lights at their fields and began playing on Friday nights.
Meanwhile, professional teams claimed Sundays. They eventually competed most of the winter as well, into February. I grew up feeling this was the natural gridiron progression: high school on Friday night, college on Saturday, pro on Sunday.
That natural order began to break down with the debut of Monday Night Football in 1970, and a gradual relaxation of standards continues even today. This past Friday evening, there were five college games live on my cable TV college games, not high school.
Next Friday, two such telecasts are scheduled. High schools managed to preserve their Friday monopoly for a long time, but fewer kids are playing football these days and their time slot exclusivity seems to have gone away.