During the 1972 Olympics hostage crisis, ABC-TV was desperate for updates. They switched to a live press conference by a Munich police official. The feed was audio only and in German.
My parents and I were watching this, so I took a stab at simultaneous translation. The official droned on for minutes, saying something like, "Naturally, a situation of this sort presents numerous difficulties . . . ."
My mother remarked that Jim McKay would be disappointed when he learned that no real news of the hostages was being disclosed.
Traveling with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987-93, I connected with each city I visited through its local newspapers and newscasts.
In 2006, I went back on the road with the Pirates for a couple of months. However, this time I had a laptop computer. Online, it was easy to read stories from the Pittsburgh newspapers and even to listen to Pittsburgh radio stations. I rarely got around to buying a local paper or tuning in the local news.
The most popular Beatles song from my college days ends with a long, hypnotic coda. But hearing it again recently, I also realized that the verses have an intricate rhyming structure that adds to their appeal.
The new TV network formed from the remnants of UPN and The WB is called "The CW." Presumably the letters come from parents CBS and Warner Brothers.
I didn't think "The CW" was a good name. Every time I saw it, I thought of "C&W," country and western music. But then I realized that western disappeared long ago with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. For forty years this genre has been called simply country.
When I was about 12, my mother conducted a little experiment. She gave me a dish of beige ice cream and asked what flavor I thought it was. I tasted a spoonful and came up with the right answer, "coffee."
Being a youngster, I had never tasted coffee itself, so we were both a little surprised that I could identify it. But I had smelled coffee. And in cases like this, it's the sense of smell that's more important.
Here's my first TV camera, a prop that I made in 1961 for a skit in eighth grade.
Some high school sports rosters still list uniform numbers in two columns, "home" and "away." Both are usually identical. But once they had to be different.
As I recall, when I was in school the home basketball team was supposed to wear even numbers and the visitors odd, to eliminate ambiguity when the referee called a foul on 34.
No one could wear 1 or 2. The referee used those numbers to signal "one free throw" or "two free throws." Digits 6 through 9 were prohibited. The ref's hand didn't have that many fingers.
An ideal set of sixteen uniforms . . .
After an afternoon baseball game, Bill Shissler and I placed our orders at an outdoor restaurant in Old Town San Diego.
A sparrow flew up and perched on the back of a chair. "Hello, there," I said. It looked at me.
Unfolding my arms, I gestured across the empty table, saying, "I'm afraid we don't have any food here." The bird gravely observed this, then looked at Bill. "Is this true?" it seemed to be asking. Bill just grinned.
"Well, okay, thanks anyway," I imagined the sparrow saying. It made a hopping 180° turn on the chair and took off.
Motorists once used small ferries to cross rivers. Above: my Grandma Buckingham with me on the Ohio River at Ripley, August 24, 1955. "Pull forward, apply brakes, stop motor. Do not proceed until signaled to do so."
The Amish school shootings . . . how quickly life can end, even for the innocent! But when I read about the tragedy's aftermath, what moved me was the Amish response.
There were no hateful vows of revenge, no angry calls for reprisals against the outsiders. Instead, the community accepted that sometimes terrible things happen. All we can do is move on.
Did they burn down the deranged gunman's house? No. They took up a collection for his widow and his children.
The alternative is holding a grudge forever.
In Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites are killing each other by the dozens. Why the enmity? It dates back to a dispute over who should succeed Mohammed more than 1,300 years ago.
Pittsburgh pundit John McIntire asked whether U.S. media will ever get past the annual bemoaning of 9/11. Some listeners insisted we must never, never, never forget. But "Professor Steve" told McIntire's blog, "Not moving on leads to the notion that every small act requires retaliation, which leads to more and more a quagmire, which is where we are today in Iraq."