APRIL 24, 2015 PLAYING THE OVERTURE
The Chicago Cubs were in town this week, and I worked for the visiting broadcaster. During our preparations for the telecast, the lead-off man was frequently mentioned. At first I thought the Cubs Dexter Fowler was being discussed, but it turned out they were talking about WGNs 15-minute pregame show, called The Hyundai Lead-Off Man.
Im reminded of certain telecasts I worked in Cleveland some years back. The producer said, Its a seven oclock game, so game time is at 6:30. That made no sense until I realized that the pregame show was illogically titled Game Time.
Why confuse the viewers? Why not simply call it Indians Pregame? Or, if you want a less obvious title, borrow from other sports and call it Indians Tipoff or Drop the Puck or Hyundai Hyuddle.
Or borrow from other genres and call it Prelude or Sinfonia or Foreword or Preamble.
Its only a name.
APRIL 20, 2015 MR. FORBES & MISS ROGERS
Exactly 80 years ago tonight, a man and a woman met in New York. They had nothing to say to each other. But then, he pulled something from his pocket.
find this little drama in my new article, Im
Your Best Friend! Get Lucky!
APRIL 10, 2015 HATRED vs INDIFFERENCE
Atheists dont believe in God. But do they actively hate God? Why bother? To them, he doesnt even exist. How about the Ten Commandments? Do atheists hate the Ten Commandments?
Some Christians fear their faith is the target of such hatred. I disagree, in a sermon on Hate Speech.
APRIL 4, 2015 SPORTS GRAPHICS SUGGESTION
The seasons of winter sports (like basketball and hockey) begin in one calendar year and end in the next. We customarily label a season like that by mentioning both years, separated by a hyphen. For example, suppose that during the current season of 2014-2015, Current Phenom is closing in on 200 blocked shots. TV graphics might prepare a table like this.
To improve the graphic, I wish we were allowed to reduce the clutter by listing only the second year. After all, the date of the championship tournament is -2015, not 2014-2015. We could retain the hyphen to indicate that were citing the deciding year. And while were at it, we could save more space by dropping the digits that indicate the century; its not like were risking another Y2K meltdown. Wouldnt this be easier to read?
MARCH 29, 2015 LOCAL HOOPSTERS WIN AGAIN
All the college basketball excitement this week is about the NCAA Division I mens tournament. Here in the Pittsburgh area, locals had been following the fortunes of Robert Morris University and West Virginia University, until those teams were eliminated by Duke and Kentucky respectively.
But there are many other tournaments going on, for smaller schools as well as the NIT and for women as well as men. Weve still had teams to root for.
Three years ago, I described televising games after driving all the way to California which is only a 60-mile trip. California University of Pennsylvania is located in the Monongahela River town of California, PA. This year, the CalU womens team made it to the Elite Eight of NCAAs Division II, played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And the Vulcans won it all! With an 86-69 victory in the final game Friday night, they claimed their second Division II national championship in 11 years.
On Saturday afternoon, another nearby school, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, almost won it all. IUP was the runner-up in the men's Division II tournament for the second time in five years.
Both games were televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. I watched the CalU women's game; it was fun, with a lot of scoring. There wasnt much defense. Players were frequently able to quickly dribble past their defenders and score on driving layups. But contrary to some womens games Ive televised, these players actually made those layups, and they were deadly on jump shots.
The venue was the 3,250-seat Sanford Pentagon. When I heard the name, I guessed correctly that it was a five-sided building, but I guessed incorrectly that it must be in Sanford, Florida. Actually, this Sanford refers to Sanford Health, a medical facility in Sioux Falls.
The Pentagon, home to a pro team in the NBAs D-League, opened only a year and a half ago. Although its design includes modern amenities in the corners like luxury suites and a huge video board, its supposed to be a throwback to the look of old-time basketball gyms.
MARCH 26, 2015 THIS IS AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE
Like shooting fish in a barrel: What do the old movies Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf? have in common?
Highlight the following text to view the answer: Both titles contain exactly 25 letters. (So does the simile about fish in a barrel.)
Crossword constructor Eric Albert took advantage of this obscure fact (which, as you know, also applies to Return of the Killer Tomatoes as well as the Food and Drug Administration) before he added cross words to the oversized 25x25 grid that I puzzled out last week.
MARCH 20, 2015 NOT THE BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES
Tonight in the NCAA basketball tournament, the Chanticleers (from Big South champion Coastal Carolina) will play the Badgers (from Big Ten champion Wisconsin).
Chanticleers, huh? I remember that the term comes from Chaucers Canterbury Tales, where its the name of a proud rooster. So I looked up Chaucers description of the bird, which includes these lines:
MARCH 15, 2015 SELMA
The nation and I were watching on television 50 years ago tonight.
What happened in Selma, President Lyndon B. Johnson told a joint session of Congress, is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life.
Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.
And we shall overcome!
MARCH 11, 2015 ANTI-SPLICING SONGS
A knot that attaches the loose ends of two pieces of rope is called a splice.
A hundred years ago, according to my old hometown's Richwood Gazette: Clergymen and justices, known as splicers, who tie the matrimonial knot are the latest sufferers from the national war tax. To each marriage certificate they hand out must be attached a 10-cent revenue stamp.
Another edition of the newspaper noted that local resident Al Hamilton has written a number of very pretty pieces. Sheet music was available at M.F. LaRue's music store for Al's latest song, Let the Parson Tie Cupid's Knot and Splice Your Name to Mine.
Fifty years ago, as a Richwood High School student I wrote some parody lyrics that speak disparagingly about splices that, for self-centered reasons, remain imperfectly intertwined.
On a related subject, my lyrics also deplored the liberation of women. Damsels in distress have a charm that makes men want to help them all they can. But today's females have gained all the rights that the males have, so they don't need any man to help them. Girls today are not the same!
MARCH 5, 2015 O, BE SOME OTHER NAME!
The memory still haunts me, half a century later. There I was, in front of the whole school, misapplying a quotation from a classic drama. How embarrassing!
Richwood High School would sometimes take a few minutes out of its week for a pep rally. Actually, I think we had to give up the last third of our lunch period. Wed assemble in the gymnasium and the cheerleaders would challenge us to express vocal support for our athletes, in hopes that we would be similarly enthusiastic at the big game that night. A little humorous entertainment was also included.
As nearly as I can reconstruct the incident, the cheerleaders had recruited me for a skit. Sitting on a stool at midcourt, I introduced another character, who was supposed to enter from my left. His entrance was slightly delayed for some reason.
In mock frustration over his absence, I cried, Wherefore art thou?! My ad-lib was badly chosen.
Most of my audience probably didnt realize it, but wherefore does not mean where.
It means why.
So Juliet doesnt call out, Where are you, Romeo? She wonders, Of all possible names, why are you Romeo?
In defense of my audience and myself, in daily life we are no longer required to know the meaning of wherefore. The word is now considered archaic. I think we should expunge it from Shakespeares play, where it hampers our modern understanding.
Our heroine walks out onto her balcony and, as young girls will, toys with the name of the boy on whom she has a crush. Oh, Romeo! Roam-eeeh-ohhh. Why are you Romeo? Deny your father and change your name.
Or else tell me you love me, and Ill change my name. Ill no longer be a Capulet. Ill be Mrs. Romeo Montague. Mrs. R.M. Juliet Montague. Doesnt that sound much classier than Juliet Capulet? I always detested that et-et rhyme.
What do names mean, anyway? We call this flower a rose, but if we called it a stinkbloom it would smell just as sweet, wouldnt it? Ay me!