MARCH 30, 2017 THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME
Theres a veteran statistician who has worked all 32 title games of the Colonial Athletic Association mens basketball tournament. In fact, his record goes back even further, because he and I worked that championship before it was even called the CAA.
In 1985, as I noted here, I traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia, to operate the graphics machine for the three-day ECAC South tournament. Regional network Home Team Sports televised all seven games live. My only assistance came from Marty Aronoff at courtside. The Penn State alumnus provided statistics to the announcers and, via headset, to me in the TV truck.
MARCH 27, 2017 THINGS THAT ARE FREE
The fragment came to the forefront of my mind when on a satellite radio channel I heard a recording of Jo singing an old standard. The lyrics by Buddy DeSylva and Lew Brown proclaim The moon belongs to everyone and then go on to list other boons for which we need not pay: stars, flowers, robins, sunbeams. Last but most important: love.
MARCH 23, 2017 THIS COULD BE THE START
First, however, it leads off with a still from a 1958 telecast with Steve Allen. Mark Evanier recently posted the actual 1958 video. Some of his readers later corrected his description of it; although the musical number did start in Studio 1, it actually ended in Studio 4.
Others claimed it was televised with a big bulky color camera, quite a feat. However, I dont think so. During the number, a light shines into the lens and the picture partially blacks out an overcorrection that was typical of the black-and-white image orthicon cameras of the day. Im sticking with my recollection that a more manageable black-and-white camera was used and the start of Dinah Shores color didnt come until after the station break.
But we all agree the audio is a pre-recorded track (even including smatterings of canned applause from about a dozen people) until the Studio 4 live mics are opened in the final second of Evaniers clip, which you can see here.
None of us is in perfect health. The human body is very complex, and by the laws of probability, the odds are overwhelming that some component is not functioning at peak efficiency.
The same applies to the human mind. Back in high school, I famously remarked, "There's a little bit of insanity in everybody."
Scott Adams, who draws the Dilbert cartoon, agrees. Four months ago in his Dilbert Blog, he wrote about the angry responses he'd received to a recent series of cartoons about a "mildly retarded consultant." Excerpts:
MARCH 17, 2017 IRISH DAY
For years, she writes, Ive been wanting to put together care kits to hand out to homeless folks in my city of Nashville, Tennessee. It's a concern of mine that people who are no different in many ways than my own friends and family, who've known love and laughter, find themselves being dealt misfortune both emotionally and physically.
Her distaste for affluent Christian televangelist Joel Osteen finally spurred her to action. Hes in town tonight peddling his latest book of prosperity gospel from a comfy chair in Barnes & Noble, and will soon go home to his mansion with three elevators.
So Tracey launched a GoFundMe campaign ending on her December 10 birthday, to turn a gift to me into a gift to others who have needs greater than mine ... our brothers and sisters who are spending the holidays on the streets of Nashville. Let them know that they're more than in our thoughts we're literally reaching out to give them, ever so modestly, a few creature comforts that may brighten their mood and give them temporary relief.
MARCH 15, 2017 FIRST FOURS
For the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament, 68 teams have been named to fill 64 slots. That means that four teams must be eliminated before the tournament proper gets under way, so First Four games are being played last night and tonight.
One would think that, in each of the four regions, the selection committee would name a #16a and a #16b and then match them in a First Four game to decide which of the two should actually get that regions #16 seed.
This year, it does work that way in the East and Midwest. But the other two First Four games are between teams seeded #11a and #11b. Why? Why should a #11 seed have to suffer the indignity of going to Dayton to play itself in?
The overall seeding of the 68 teams looks like this. Automatic bids go to 32 champions of conference tournaments (in gold), and then the committee invites 36 other teams it deems worthy (in white).
Apparently the NCAA doesnt mind eliminating two conference champions before the real tournament even begins, but eliminating four would be too much.
My fellow Pittsburghers, our long civic nightmare is over.
All this century, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been pointing out that they need a new hockey arena. Various schemes were proposed to help the team pay for the building without burdening taxpayers directly. For a year, we kept hearing about the Isle of Capri. If this firm won the license to build a local slot machine parlor, they promised to build an arena next door. Media and politicians joined with Penguins officials to urge that the slots license should therefore be awarded to the Isle of Capri. The campaigning was so public and so prolonged that it seemed as though the voters were being asked to make the decision. But it wasn't their choice to make. In December, an independent state board gave the license to a different applicant. Disappointed team officials threatened that the Penguins might move to Kansas City, which caused much angst in Pittsburgh.
But late this afternoon, it was formally announced that a Plan B has been worked out and a new local arena will be built after all.
I'm glad that the team is staying in town. I work something like 40 hockey telecasts a year. That not only gives me something to do during through the long winters but also represents a significant chunk of my annual income.
I have to admit, though, that I don't particularly like hockey as a sport.
I grew up watching baseball, football, and basketball. The patterns of those sports were etched into my young brain. But I encountered the patterns of hockey later in life, and there has been no etching.
When I watch a football game, infractions like offside and intentional grounding are obvious. When hockey fans watch their sport, infractions like offside and icing are obvious to them but not to me. Also, the cultures are different. When football announcers refer to Grambling or the frozen tundra, I know what they're talking about. During this hockey season, I've felt like an outsider when our Canada-centric announcers have referred familiarly to Rimouski and the RCMP.
And then there's fighting. In any other sport even college hockey if two players square off and put up their fists, an official will jump between them to prevent punches from being thrown. But in professional hockey, peacemaking is not part of the tradition. The officials stand back and watch the two players circle each other. They watch the players clutch and grab and slug each other in the face with their bare knuckles. The fans love it; the players love it; everybody loves to see a fight. Only when the two combatants fall to the ice do the officials step in to pull them apart and send them each off to serve a five-minute penalty.
If fighting is against the rules, if it's punishable by a major penalty, why do the officials allow it to happen? And afterwards, why aren't the rule-breakers ejected from the game, as they would be in any other sport? Apparently fisticuffs are condoned because they can energize your teammates and protect them from certain nefarious tactics that the opposing team might otherwise employ against them. It's the code of the schoolyard brawl.
But I guess I'll never really understand. I've never even been to Rimouski.
MARCH 12, 2017 FEBRUARY MADNESS REDUX
So why do we have to go through this nonsense of resetting our clocks every spring and fall? Couldn't we accomplish the same result if we all simply got up an hour earlier in the summertime?
Well, yes, but we probably wouldn't obtain the necessary unanimity.
Suppose your boss gets with the program and, for March through October, changes your 9-to-5 office hours to 8-to-4. Although your late-afternoon clients are inconvenienced, you get an extra hour of evening daylight. Then your spouse's business also changes its hours, but only for April through September. Your local school board, not wanting children to have to go to school before dawn, doesn't change anything. The family schedule is repeatedly disrupted.
It all works much more smoothly if a central authority mandates that everybody will start the day an hour sooner, and the easiest way to do that is to change the clocks.
It would work even more smoothly if the central authority were an international one. As the situation stands now, Europe goes on "summer time" on different dates than the United States and Canada, so the trans-Atlantic schedule is repeatedly disrupted.
MARCH 7, 2017 OUTFOXED
The video for this enhancement was generated by a custom piece of electronic equipment, built into a rugged case for easy transportation. Once upon a time, a technician was carrying such a case onto an airplane. Whats that? asked a flight attendant. Thats the Fox Box, the technician replied. The attendant was aghast. Youve got a live animal in there?
That reminds me of reports from the Richwood Gazette a century before. In March of 1891, a month when kite flying is now the occupation of the Richwood youth and it is not uncommon to see a dozen kites in the air at one time, the weekly paper in my Ohio hometown told about an actual fox box.
One day last week, several boys of Radnor Township caught a fox, and as a result, they concluded to have a fox hunt. The time set was last Saturday, and all the sports of Prospect and surrounding country gathered.
When the time came to liberate the fox, it was taken to a large field and the lid was raised, when lo and behold, not only one fox but an even half-dozen were in the box, five of them very small. The chase was postponed.