eighth-grade teacher whom I knew as Mrs. Endsley passed
away this month. Mildred P. Maxa Endsley Allen, who had taught
in Richwood for 35 years, was 91.
classmate Lynne Ledley did the math. Mrs. Endsley was born in
Cleveland in October 1918, so when we entered eighth grade in the
fall of 1960, she was celebrating her 42nd birthday. To
us 7th and 8th graders she seemed old, Lynne remembers.
42 is definitely not old, as we all know!
returned to the stack of yearbooks I used for an earlier article
featuring Richwood High School pictures. There I found the
portrait at the left of Mrs. Endsley, looking much as I remember
her. The picture is in the 1954 Tigrtrax, and the same
picture is in a 1952 Tigrtrax that Classmates.com has posted
online. When the photo was taken, her age would have been at
most 33. Perhaps it was her hairstyle that made her seem
ancient to us adolescents.
things do affect our perceptions. This photo of Fritz
Drodofsky was also in the 1952 and 1954 yearbooks. When I was
in high school a decade later, the coach
certainly didn't have wavy hair like that.
THIRTY-TWO YEARS AGO
was on this night in the year 1978 that Saturday Night Live
aired its best episode ever, according to writer Tom Davis in his
book Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss. Steve
Martin did Dancing in the Dark with Gilda Radner.
He portrayed Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber and one
of the wild and crazy guys. He dressed up as King
Tut for a memorable production number.
open the show, Paul Shaffer (impersonating Don Kirshner) introduced
a new act, the Blues Brothers. When John Belushi and Dan
Aykroyd walked onstage in black suits, I remember thinking, this
is rather creative. Apparently their hats and dark
glasses were in homage to John Lee Hooker, though I didnt know
next saw the Brothers on SNL seven months later, introduced
by Garrett Morris. Aykroyd unlocked a briefcase to retrieve his
priceless harmonica, and then they started to dance and sing.
Theyve written a good song, too, I thought.
Pretty catchy. Apparently I had never before heard
Sam & Daves Soul Man.
surprising, because I had been a DJ at my college radio station ten
years before, and our popular music playlist did include soul
music. Somehow this 1967 hit never got airtime on our station,
or if it did, it never registered with me.
1981 I was taken with a different new song, Juice Newtons
Angel of the Morning. Only recently have I
discovered that it was a remake of another record that I should have
known from my college days.
original was written by Chip Taylor, brother of actor Jon
Voight. Recorded in 1968 by Merrilee Rush (right), it was quite
similar to the later remake, except that its orchestration was a
little less lush; a lone trombone played the introductory line.
version rose to #7 on the charts. That happened during the
summer between my junior and senior years, which might explain how I
begun tuning my cable TV to the Solid Gold Oldies
channel of the Music Choice service in an effort to fill such gaps in
my knowledge of the music of my youth.
IT'S WASABI, MY SON
the spring of 1983, Willie Stargell, the recently retired baseball
player turned broadcaster, had
just discovered the joys of sushi. He brought a box down to our
TV truck to pass around.
now, many Americans are encountering this Japanese delicacy for the
first time. The other day at an Asian restaurant, I overheard a
teenager on his cell phone at the adjoining table. He reported
that although his sushi contained raw fish, it didnt taste
fishy at all. He also reported that it was served
with some really spicy guacamole.
A HALO FOR BABY
most of my life Ive used the thick emerald-green shampoo in
the unbreakable plastic container, Prell. Like me, this product
was introduced to the world in 1947.
newborn children are apparently slow to learn that they must keep
their eyes closed while their heads are being washed.
would explain the registered trademark for Johnsons Baby
Shampoo, a gentler formulation which has long proclaimed No
an alternative, when I was growing up in the 1950s my mother bought
a tear-prevention gadget. I've tried to re-create it in this drawing.
a hoop of stiff wire, maybe 15 inches in diameter. Around the
inside of the circle, attach a strip of waterproof material, similar
to a vinyl shower curtain. To the inner side of this strip,
attach a ring of elastic. Slip this ring over the top of the
child's head, like a sweatband. Gravity will cause the outer
wire hoop to sag down below nose level. Then shampoo the
child's hair. The soapy water will be deflected by the elastic
band and will run down the vinyl curtain, well away from the child's face.
soon learned to shut my eyes.
in the gym at Richwood High School would be a romantic moon, shining
over a Southern plantation house. That was the key concept of
our Junior-Senior Prom. On this date in 1964, I was named to
chair its decorating committee.
a new article called Moon
through the Night,
I share my notes from the project's first two weeks. During
this time, I designed a way to disguise sore thumbs as crepe
arbors. I also wrote a melancholy poem to be inscribed therein.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
may have heard that 3-D TV is on the way. It's going to be the
next big thing in entertainment. Sometime in the future, we
will be able to receive live stereoscopic telecasts in our very own
the future has arrived! And it arrived much sooner that I expected.
afternoon, when I tuned in the Masters golf tournament on Comcast
Cable's channel 986, I saw this double picture on my high-definition screen.
I lacked was one of those newfangled 3-D television sets. They
arrived in retail stores about a month ago. Locally, a 55-inch
Samsung costs $3,400, including a Blu-ray player and two pairs of
synchronized glasses. Retailers are overjoyed because they now
have a new toy to sell us.
I had such a TV, it would have separated the two halves of the
picture, doubled the width of each, and displayed them alternately
like this simulation that I've made, except much more rapidly.
the left picture was being displayed, the right lens of the glasses
would darken, and vice versa.
brain would have combined the two angles to create the illusion of
depth, and I would have been even more impressed with the beauty of
the Augusta National Golf Club and the treachery of its greens.
(Why can't they make those things level? Why can't greens be
2-D? If the ball rolled in a straight line, it would be much
easier for golfers to make their putts.)
3-D telecast stayed mostly with wide shots, without a lot of
closeups or cutting. I assumed this was partly because the crew
had only a few cameras available, and partly because 3-D TV works
better this way. For that matter, in my opinion, HDTV works
better this way.
stereoscopic telecasts are planned, including the World Cup of
soccer this summer. The industry hopes to sell 2.5 million 3-D
sets this year worldwide. Prices should fall quickly, and sales
are expected to grow to 8.8 million sets in 2011.
DEMAND YO'URE FEEDOM!
site Ive observed a large number of erudite protest
signs. The placards are being carried by white middle-class
conservatives who cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy to
people who aren't like them. These citizens bitterly long
for the ouster of the liberal, multicultural leaders whom the rest of
America has elected. They dream of taking the country back for
people like themselves.
learned much from reading their very creative signs. At the
risk of crashing my spell-check program, Im going to write this
commentary in Teabonics.
the native tongue of those who insist that English must be
are-countrys offical lanaguage. Above all, we must
preserve the sactity of our Constution! Our forefathes wrote
that document in English, didnt they? But now alliens are
crossing the boarder speaking some strange foreign gibberish.
And Barock Hussien Obama, who wont even show us his own birth
certifiet, wants to give them amesty or amensty or amnety.
Enoungh is enoungh!
Tea Party member, without excetion, is a hard-wroking American like
Joe the Plummer. Joe believes taxs are rediculously
high. To him, any goverment stimulas program is just waisting
currancy, although he once baught a car under Cash for Clunkkers.
Joe losses his job, or when you loose your job, you dont want
to become a borror by going into debt and taking out a mortage.
Yet the lobbyests and polititions are deviding us. They have
saddled us with an extremey hugh national debt. Meanwhile, what
is our Commander en Theif concerned about? Only the
redistribtion of our wealth. We must impeah this lier! We
must repeel his sociazed health care!
speaking of socilism, dont forget our school system.
Those public school teachers lack competnce. If you send
your daugter, theyll teach her thinkgs that arent
even in the Bible! Your are much better off useing
home-schooling. Then your child will be as well-infromed as you are.
up, Americans! Were not slaves. We shouldnt be
living under tyrany, like Nazi Gemany. True Americans must be
rougues and mavricks, proclaiming resisance and descent. If
your not outraged your not paying attention. Become a
extremest for feedom!
OUR HIGHWAY OF PERPETUAL REPAIR
four-lane highway usually consists of two roadways separated by a
median strip. Each roadway carries two lanes.
every spring the construction barrels appear. Typically the
workers close off one lane in each direction for a few miles to
repave it. Cars and trucks jam up in the other lane, causing
major delays, and the road crew is subjected to the dangers of
working close to passing traffic.
by November theyve finished, but the next spring they reappear
to tear up the next few miles. After a decade the entire length
of the highway has been rebuilt, all the way to the state line.
Then, of course, its time to start all over again. Some
part of the road is always under construction!
being the case, maybe it would be better for a highway to consist of three roadways.
of them would always be closed completely, and we could drive on the
other two until it was their turn to be repaved.
is no longer the greatest country in the world, at least in
education. Earlier this month, Sam Dillon of the New York Times reported
of the world's foremost experts on comparing national school systems
told lawmakers on Tuesday that many other countries were surpassing
the United States in educational attainment, including Canada.
education advantage, unrivaled in the years after World War II, is
eroding quickly, said Andreas Schleicher, a senior education official
at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.
Mr. Schleicher said, is improving its education system most rapidly.
In less than a decade, it raised the literacy skills of its
15-year-olds by the equivalent of almost a school year. "In
one way, international education benchmarks make disappointing
reading for the U.S.," he said.
Butt, chief executive of a supermarket chain in Texas, said the
blame for America's sagging academic achievement does not lie solely
with public schools but also with dysfunctional families and a
culture that undervalues education. "Schools are inheriting an
overentertained, distracted student," he said.
leads me to reminisce about the days when I was in school. In
the Fifties and Sixties, almost all American families still treated
education with respect, not scorn.
Richwood High School no longer exists. The old building was
torn down last year.
the Tigrtrax yearbooks remain, filled with photos. You
cant find your old copies? I've located mine. In
honor of my Class of '65, I've posted 65 of the pictures to this website.
new article, Tracks
of the Richwood Tiger,
also includes other details such as class schedules, cheers, pet
peeves, and two short speeches I gave. I'll even tell you my
locker combination! Just click on the title.
SNAKES ALL OVER THE FLOOR!
promised last month, it's time for the second half of The
Just click on the title and you'll jump to my version's exciting
thinks he's talking to God.
becomes the first to write down God's name.
Aaron, while admitting that God himself is powerless, asserts that belief
in God can change the world.
UPDATING MY LAST TWO POSTS
So how's your bracket looking? After the first weekend of the
NCAA men's basketball tournament, ESPN reports that not one of 4.78
million brackets predicted the Sweet Sixteen correctly. Only
four picked 15 of the 16 teams that remain.
it be a lot easier to start your office pool now, instead of
a week ago? Three quarters of the teams have been
eliminated. Filling out a brackette, covering only
the final two weeks of the tournament, would require predicting
outcomes of only 15 games. Even random choices would give you a
1 in 32,768 chance of achieving perfection.
A week ago I wondered whether any sports museums displayed
life-sized statues depicting great plays, frozen in time.
Wisconsin, Ray Barrington informs me that it is in fact being
done. At the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in Lambeau Field,
visitors can relive the freeze frame just before the final snap of
the famous 1967 Ice Bowl NFL championship game.
how could I have forgotten Franco Harris, who made the
Immaculate Reception for the Steelers five years
later? That moment is also available for inspection, though not
in a sports museum. Its next to the escalators at
Pittsburgh International Airport.
posted by others on the Internet)
to expand the NCAA tournament's 65-team
field to 96 teams have met with various objections, including the
claim that this would extend the three weeks of March Madness to four weeks.
not necessarily so. To decide who gets the 16th and final spot
in one of the four regions, there already is a play-in
game on the first Tuesday of the tournament (which happens to be
tonight). All we have to do is add 31 more play-in games!
And no additional neutral sites would be required. Wed
merely add another all-day session at each existing site.
illustrate with the diagram above, showing the games to be played at
the Jacksonville sub-regional this week. On the left is the
actual schedule, with bold numbers representing seeding. (There
are 16 teams in each of four regions, ranked or seeded
from 1 down to 16.) On the right is how it could be modified
for a 96-team field, where the seedings run from 1 to 24.
would be minimal effect on travel. The top eight seeds would
get byes and not have to play until Thursday or Friday, just like the
current arrangement. But before that, on Tuesday or Wednesday,
seeds 9 through 16 would face seeds 17 through 24. The winners
would advance to play the top eight seeds on Thursday or Friday, at
the same time and on the same floor as their first game.
Thereafter, the tournament would continue in the manner to which we
have become accustomed.
ONE MOMENT IN TIME
home yesterday from the Patriot League championship game, where
Lehigh defeated Lafayette for the right to advance to the NCAA
tournament and be trounced by top-seeded Kansas this coming Thursday,
I stopped at a huge Cabelas store north of Reading, PA. I
am definitely not an outdoorsman, but I was curious about what was inside.
photo at the right, and the next one, come from this
the expected vast assortment of hunting and fishing gear for sale,
Cabelas offers other attractions for the tourist, including an
aquarium and several taxidermic displays.
one side room are realistic dioramas filled with dozens of stuffed
whitetail deer. Each is labeled. Many of the labels name
the hunter who shot the deer. At least one label names the
person who collected the deer, which I presume means that
he picked the road kill up off the highway.
displays feature stuffed moose, mountain goats, Arctic foxes, and
other animals in natural-looking settings.
also an African section. At the entrance are several animals
posed in a freeze frame of an exciting action sequence: a wide-eyed
group of greater kudu fleeing toward us, trying to escape a lion
attack. Like running backs making their cuts, the athletic
lions are closing in for the kill.
panicked antelope are almost close enough to touch. Thats
a step up from zoos, where we stare from a distance at bored animals
standing around. Of course, at least the zoo animals are still alive.
sports halls of fame also depict their athletes in frozen
three-dimensional shining moments? Of course, it
wouldnt do for taxidermists to stuff the athletes, but
statues could be posed to bring the action within reach.
Ive faked a photo of such a display.
havent been to a sports museum lately. Do they already
do this sort of thing? If not, why not?
MARCH 22 (ABOVE) FOR UPDATE
some, the concept of daylight saving time has been traced back to a
method to save on the expense of candles, proposed in a letter
written by Benjamin Franklin. This
letter, as a matter of fact. But it turns out that old Ben
wasnt completely serious.
a satirical essay worthy of Dave Barry, Franklin pretends to stumble
accidentally on the discovery that daylight begins as early as 6:00
AM. In the summer, it begins even earlier. The people of
Paris dont realize this, he says, because they stay up most of
the night burning the midnight oil. Then they go to bed and
dont rise to greet the sun until noon.
ignoring Franklins motto, early to bed, early to
rise, Parisians are losing money. If they were to replace
costly artificial light with free natural sunlight, he calculates
they could save 96,075,000 livres in just half a year.
this end, he has several suggestions. However, they dont
include daylight time. He does not propose
resetting the clocks so that noon occurs at sunrise.
to encourage people to go to bed earlier, Franklin recommends
rationing candle wax. To discourage the use of window shutters
that block out the morning sun, he recommends taxing the
shutters. Sleepyheads would be roused at dawn with church bells
and cannon fire.
the sleepyheads did not come around, and morning sunlight continued
to go to waste for more
than a hundred years. Reportedly, it was not until 1907 that
setting the clocks ahead in the spring was first seriously advocated
by William Willett. That expedient is now the law.
I was in charge of local origination channels on cable TV systems,
we didnt present programs 24 hours a day. Most of the
time, TV-3 merely displayed automated screens of time, weather, and
text ads, as in these examples.
subscribers must have actually referred to these screens. On
two particular Sundays during the year, a few people would call our
office and leave messages like this: Hey, you idiots,
your clock is wrong! Of course, those Sundays were the
ones when daylight time began or ended at 2:00 AM. Because no
one was in our office then, no one had yet reset the clock.
didnt seem cost-effective to pay someone to come in on Sunday
morning for this trivial task. Finally, I hit upon a solution.
adopted a policy of changing the clock in advance, on Saturday
afternoon. I put a notice on the crawl at the bottom of the
screen: THE TIME ABOVE IS EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME, EFFECTIVE AT
2:00 AM SUNDAY.
seemed to work. For the rest of Saturday, the incorrect clock
reminded people of the impending time change. Then on Sunday,
the correct clock eliminated the complaints.
REVENGE OF THE WICKED WITCH
month's snows have almost completely melted in suburban
Pittsburgh. But if we are to believe this Google Earth image
(centered at 40°28'09" N, 79°50'12" W), the
spring thaw has caused a significant frost heave on the gray asphalt
road in Penn Hills known as Dorothy Drive.
you aware that the worlds longest-running variety TV show is
the Spanish-language Sábado Gigante (Giant Saturday) on
Univision? Its been hosted since 1962 by a man from
Chile, Don Francisco. That sounds Spanish enough.
it turns out that Don Franciscos real name is Mario Luis
Kreutzberger Blumenfeld, and hes married to Teresa Muchnik
Rosenblum. His Jewish parents fled from Germany to Chile to
escape Nazi persecution.
you heard sports talkers mention the Yukon Huskies? This team
must be located in Canadas wild Yukon Territory, east of
Alaska. They must use dogsleds for transportation. Maybe
these Huskies will be competing in the Iditarod starting tomorrow.
then you discover that in this case, Yukon is actually
spelled UConn. It stands for the University of Connecticut.
LAUGH TRACKS, REVISITED
summer, in this post, I raised
the question: When a TV comedy is not filmed in front of
a live audience, where does the audience laughter come from? As
a young boy I thought it might be recorded during a preview
screening, a guess which I later learned was incorrect. The
usual method was to add prerecorded "canned laughter."
hold the phone! Ive just run across this
four-year-old article revealing that my technique is in fact being
used on How I Met Your Mother.
Owen reports that the show is filmed with multiple cameras but no
audience, to allow more flexibility. Then, after filming is complete:
versions of finished Mother
episodes are screened on monitors for an audience that sits in
bleachers on the nearby Stacked
soundstage. Their reactions are recorded and used as the laugh
track. Jokes or lines that fall flat are cut until the episode
hits CBS's target running time (about 21 minutes).
always thought my idea made sense!
here's another update, from Mark Evanier's blog
of February 12, 2013. He's discussing The
Phil Silvers Show, which
aired on CBS from 1955 to 1959.
Sgt. Bilko show was shot in front of a live audience for its first
few seasons. Then they started filming without one. After
every two filmed-without-one episodes were edited, theyd send
the films, some audio engineers and a cast member to some sort of
theater with some sort of audience. The cast member would
welcome the crowd, warm them up with a comedy routine, then the
episodes would be shown and the live laughter would be recorded and
dubbed onto the shows.
MeTV, I happened to see a 1957 episode, "Hillbilly
Whiz." Guest star Dick Van Dyke, in his television debut,
plays a young recruit from the South who can throw a baseball as
proficiently as he can throw rocks at squirrels. Bilko gets him
a tryout with the New York Yankees. Several actual players try
to convince him they too are Southerners, not
"yankees." Yogi Berra, a second-generation Italian,
exits saying "Alla prossima, y'all!"
the audience reaction to be added later, the actors didn't wait for
the laughs but simply proceeded to their next line, which sometimes
was drowned out by laughter in the finished product.
TV news: I much enjoyed last nights American Experience
documentary on Dolley Madison. In time-honored Ken Burns
fashion, period correspondence was read by actors. However,
this time they actually appeared on screen, speaking in character to
the camera as if they were confiding in us. The cast included
English actress Eve Best as the Virginia-accented Dolley.
mimic nowadays does an impression of Martha Washington, who spoke in
public only once, but we got such an impression last night when Eve
voiced one of Dolleys letters. She reported that Martha,
curious about her rumored engagement to James Madison, had invited
her to the presidential mansion. Dolley! she
said to me.... And the first word resembled an
aristocratic Dahling! Thats always how I
imagined Martha sounded. Later, Eve gave a wonderfully
enigmatic reading of the line, Now I am Mrs. James
World War II, 66 years ago in Calcutta, my father witnessed a Hindu
spring festival called Holi. The Indian people playfully
sprayed each other with colorful powders and liquids.
described the celebration in a letter
home, to which I've added some modern photos.
this year 2010, the full moon having appeared last night, Holi is today!
Calcutta, my father traveled about 300 miles north and then 400
miles east to the province (now state) of Assam. For the rest
of 1944 and 1945, he would be stationed near the town of Chabua.
recently learned about his neighbor the little girl who lived
down the road.
base was surrounded by tea plantations. They were mostly
operated by the British using local labor, as in a photo (click here)
that my father brought back.
turns out that one of those plantation managers lived in the house
on the right, pictured recently in the London Daily Mail. His
name was Frank St. John Christie, and he had a three-year-old daughter.
the war was over, Vernon Thomas left Chabua, returned to America,
and became my father.
afterwards, Frank Christies daughter left Chabua, moved to
England, and became an Academy Award-winning actress. Her
name: Julie Christie.
now you know The Rest Of The Story.