This is just too bizarre a story.
Today, Sunday, the Chicago Cubs played the Kansas City Royals in an inter-league game, that was a "Throwback Uniform Day." Both teams wore old replica jerseys from when the Cubs' predecessors, the Chicago Whales were in the Federal League, and Kansas City had a team, as well, the Packers.
(As you'll note, that's not a bear cub inside the "C," but a whale...)
But obviously that's the not bizarre part of the story.
The two teams had played each other 100 years ago to the day. Back then, on May 31, 1915, Chicago beat Kansas City 2-1 in an extra inning game that went 11 innings.
Are you ready?
Today, May 31, 2015, Chicago beat Kansas City. 2-1. In an extra inning game -- that went 11 innings.
It turns out that every 100 years, the Chicago Cubs are able to win in an interesting fashion. Maybe that explains things more than the Billy Goat Curse.
This week's contestant is Doug Griggs from Georgetown, Kentucky. (I believe this is from their archives, which they seem to be doing a bit lately. I don't know if they're no longer doing the Puzzlers, or if any of the principles are on vacation.) I was able to get the hidden song within about eight seconds from the intro. Even if others don't get it there, I think it would be very recognizable once the songs itself actually starts. I'm a bit shocked that the contestant didn't know it right off, since I don't think the song is all that hidden. In fact, he didn't even get it when Fred Child played it a second time -- and then began to sing along. Only when he simply played the song straight on, did Mr. Griggs "guess" it. As for the composer style, there were a few who I thought possible, but one stood out -- and that's who it was. Happily, Mr. Griggs got that without any help.
This is a truly rare, utterly wonderful bit of lost Broadway history.
Alfred Drake was, in his era, one of the leading stars of Broadway -- and while this is no small thing at any time, it's all the more notable since his era was The Golden Age, of the late-40s through the early '60s. He was the original 'Curly' in Oklahoma!, had starred as the lead in Kiss Me Kate and Kismet, all huge hits, and many others. And he's still revered in Broadway circles. He's largely known, though, only through his cast recordings. Other people did these roles in the movies, and he made almost no movies himself. In part that's because he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era, but that's only "in part" -- other than a small, filmed-on-stage production of Hamlet with Richard Burton that had a limited theatrical release, his first film role after the blacklist was long over was a small part in 1983 in Trading Places as the executive of the Board of Trade (demanding payment from the Duke brothers). And even during the blacklist period, he was nonetheless able to do quite a bit of television work, but little of that material is still available. (Most notably, he got the chance to recreate his starring role in Kiss Me Kate in an edited-down TV version on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. But that performance is largely gone.) The reality is that there simply is very little filmed footage of him.
But here, we get Alfred Drake in his prime, and what a performance it is.
This is from a TV show in England, probably around 1960. And it's a remarkable 23 minutes (!) of Alfred Drake singing songs from his best known shows. Best of all, he doesn't just sing them, but performs them in character -- and not only that, but often does monologues from the shows to lead into the songs.
Oddly, though he has a full 23 minutes to work with, he doesn't perform what are probably his most familiar songs -- the title song from Oklahoma! and "Stranger in Paradise" from Kismet. Still, many of the rest are quite well known...and what's fascinating is that among the three least-known songs (from Kismet) probably do the most here to show off why he has such a huge Broadway star. They're vibrant portrayals.
Hey, it's pretty impressive when you can do a 23-minute medley of your hits and actually leave out "Oklahoma!" and "Stranger in Paradise"...and still have it be this superb.
This then is why Alfred Drake was a star. If there's not much other footage of him, happily there is this.
It was a quiet week. Memories of the miraculously eventful tornado of 1985, the Lutheran Church holds its church supper in the basement due to weather, Duane Tollerud realizes he does not enjoy fishing, and the host recalls a life-changing hot air balloon ride.
I just heard back yet from another friend who I basically brow-beat into watching that ESPN feature about TNT sportscaster Ernie Johnson. He wrote back --
"That’s one of the most moving stories I’ve seen, maybe ever. It went beyond choking me up. I can’t even write about it."
So...okay watch it already. It's only 23 minutes. Your life will be better for it. Most people have to pay hundreds of dollars and sign up for a six-week course in EST to get that.
You can find it here.
I'm not sure what this is from, and it's not terribly detailed. But it's too valuable in history to pass by, and does have some wonderful moments. It appears to be the end of a documentary (whether feature film or TV) about the latter years of Charlie Chaplin's life, done in 1975. And what we sear is home footage shot by the filmmakers. Chaplin doesn't say much in this segment on camera, though, but what he does say, quietly, is quite touching. And especially so is some of his voice-over narration. He's there with his wife, Oona, and a house guest, who turns out to be Walter Matthau.
And while we're at it, here's the 1972 Oscars when Chaplin received his honorary Oscar, his first allowed-return to the United States in 20 years, after shamefully being barred re-entry to the country in 1952, accused of being a Communist.
I believe that that's screenwriter Daniel Taradash, then-president of the Motion Picture Academy, making the lovely presentation. By the way, at the 4:40 mark, the person who the camera cuts to in the audience is Jackie Coogan, who had been Chaplin's co-star as a little boy, in The Kid.
No comment is really necessary. Though, "Someone took a 'P'" might be appropriate.
The positive news is that the mayor spelled "Stranczek" correctly, and that's clearly the more difficult one.
The unfortunate news is that he got elected in the first place.
Sometimes great catches don't come from just the major leagues. And sometimes the context is what makes a catch even better. And sometimes, it's the very best when it comes from a player in the Chicago Cubs system!
Okay, I'm biased on the third point.
Last night, the Tennessee Smokies (the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) were in extra innings of a tied 2-2 game against the Mobile Bay Bears. In the top of the 12th inning, with the bases loaded and two out, the Mobile batter sent a line shot deep into the left-field corner, sure to go the wall and clear the bases, giving them an almost insurmountable 5-2 lead. That's when the Smokies' left-fielder Jacob Hannemann ignored the threat to his body and just dove, laying himself out, almost flying through the air to make the catch and end the threat.
It saved the game, too, since Cubs' top-prospect Kyle Schwarber got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the inning. O joy! Huzzah.
This is catch. The context makes it all the more impressive and dramatic, but...man, it's still terrific all on its own.
During the George W. Bush Administration, when they created the Department of Homeland Security, Republicans and most-especially far-right conservatives lauded to the rafters the new post as the near-savior of America. Be against it, and you may well be a traitor -- be against it, and at the very least you're certainly not patriotic, and are willing to make America unsafe against terrorists and all our enemies. This is the Department of Homeland Security, after all! And they wrapped themselves in it like the most comforting lambs-wool blanket.
Well, live by the sword, die by the sword.
DHS has put together an intelligence assessment, and it is centered specifically on the domestic terror threat from what are known as "right-wing sovereign citizen extremists."
In fact, as a CNN study of the report show, "Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to -- and in some cases greater than -- the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention."
You can read the whole article and see the video here.
It's not just a case of an incident or two, but the DHS -- again, this is the beloved DHS that is needed to protect us all -- lists as many as 24 "violent sovereign citizen-related" in the United Stated in just the past few years, since 2010.
"Sovereign citizen" groups are those made up of extremists who believe believe that because their personal rights are under attack they therefore are not required to obey laws or court orders or even anything as simple as a traffic stop.
In most civilizations since the beginning of time, this is the accepted definition of "anarchy." It's also the natural outgrowth of a disingenuous supposed-Era of Personal Responsibility which ridiculed the concept of how "It takes a village" to grow a society, all for the cause of merely and selfishly keeping government off our backs. Ultimately, right-wing extremists is what you risk ending up getting when that's your philosophy. it's pretty hard to love a country when you're at war with it and want to shrink the government so much that it's small enough to drown in a bathtub..
As whimsy would have it, these "sovereign citizens" seemingly are heirs of the same people -- or indeed the same people themselves -- who during the 1960s railed against the damn hippies with their long hair and free-living ways who, if they didn't love America, they could leave it. The pesky differences are many, but for starters the damn hippies were about peace and love, and not shooting a traffic cop because you got pulled over for speeding. (That's not being facetious, it's one of the many incidents detailed in the report, occurring in 2012 when a couple of Louisiana men began a shootout that killed two traffic policeman specifically because they believed the officers had no authority over how they drove their car. Or over anything they did.)
The report notes that "law enforcement officers will remain the primary target of (sovereign citizen) violence over the next year due to their role in physically enforcing laws and regulations."
For anyone who tries to dismiss this targeting of law-enforcement as domestic terrorism and a threat to the nation's safety, imagine for a moment how you'd react if this was a story instead about black people. Or even more specifically a growing, concerted organizing of black people.
And again, I repeat, this is a report from the Department of Homeland Security. The love-child of the far right. The unimpeachable savior of protecting America against terrorists and all our enemies. If one wishes to dismiss its findings for any reason you think valid, so be it. But then you pretty much have to dismiss the near-perfect validity of DHS. (Personally, I have no particular problem with the DHS existing -- I just think that, like any government agency, it has flaws and needs heavy oversight. But then, I'm not among those who felt the creation of the department was needed to prove one's patriotism and trusted with the full-faith and credit of George Bush, George Washington and God Almighty Himself.)
It's worth remembering that this isn't the first time we've gotten security reports about the threat to the country by right-wing extremist groups. That was in 2009 when DHS published a study (that was done during the Bush Administration) about right-wing militia groups. And when it occurred the last time, there was an heart-rending outcry from Republicans about how unfair and wrong and biased this was, somewhat akin to the sound of a pig being stuck.
In the words of the philosopher Gomer Pyle: "Full me once, shame on you. Full me twice, shame on me."
The operative word here, though, is shame.
For those seeing the headlines about the scandal and arrests of FIFA executives, but are a bit unsure why a sports organization is getting all this attention -- here's a wonderful, 13-minute rant about the organization that John Oliver did a year ago, almost a year to the day, June 8, 2014.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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