Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show is former race car driver Danica Patrick, the first woman to win a NASCAR race. She and host Peter Sagal have an amusing conversation about her driving habits off the track, and then it morphs into the challenges of growing up in Chicago as a Bears fan and living now in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her boyfriend Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
WGN television carried Chicago Cubs baseball games for 72 years! To put in perspective how remarkable that is, television hasn't been broadcasting much longer than that. However, the other day was their last game, since the Cubs will have their own cable network starting next years.
Thanks to Eric Boardman who sent me a heads-up to this video tribute that WGN made as a tribute to its long history broadcasting baseball and the Cubs.
That said, much as I enjoyed the piece, I think it's only fair. Too much is just generic about how one broadcasts a game, any game. And they show very few highlights that have occurred over seven decades But mostly, there is more focus on Harry Carey than Hall-of-Famer Jack Brickhouse. Though Harry is far better known to most Americans through the WGA superstation, he only covered the team for 17 years. A long time, to be sure, but Jack Brickhouse announced their games for 33 years. Further, for 20 of those years on WGN, Jack didn't just broadcast the Cubs, but also the White Sox. So, for 20 years, he did the play-by-play of both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox!!
Since this is a piece on WGN broadcasting the Cubs, I don't fault them for not referencing the White Sox. But they sure could have focused more on Jack Brickhouse broadcasting almost half of the station's 72 years with the team.
Happily, he at least is part of the story, and it's handled fairly nicely. With the baseball season ending on Sunday, here's the tribute.
The Mystery Guest on this episode of What's My Line? is one of the all-time greats in baseball history, which is no hyperbole -- Joe DiMaggio. It doesn't take them long to guess, but this is one of the few occasions when that's a good thing, since it leaves more time for host John Daly to talk with him, and there aren't many interview with the Hall of Famer.
There's one whimsical moment here that's very quiet and could get lost. After DiMaggio sits down, panelist Arlene Francis notes the ovation and says, "Nobody's ever had a hand like that other than Eisenhower and Monroe" -- which gets a reaction from DiMaggio since he and Marilyn Monroe were married at the time, September, 1955. (Though just barely, since the would divorce the next month.
This is the full broadcast. If you want to jump to the Mystery Guest segment directly, go to the 17:30 mark.
Last night before the Chicago Bears football game with their century-old rival the Green Bay Packers game, NBC ran a funny one-minute video honoring the start of the NFL’s 100th season. It was basically a debate of sorts between Packer-great quarterback Bret Favre and Bill Swirski's Superfans from Saturday Night Live (George Wendt and Robert Smigel), the "Mike Ditka is God and 'da Bearsss' are heaven" guys. It was very cute, but had an especially-funny end. I thought I’d see if I could track down the video for a friend who's out of the country at the moment..
It turns out that that was only a very short excerpt of a five-minute video! (Fortunately the video was great fun because da Bears stunk...)
Here ‘is the whole thing.
(Side Note: Robert Smigel's other well-known character is that he's the guy behind Triumpth the Insult Comic Dog. And here's a fun fact -- Smigel is not an actor, and was nervous about originally playing the character, but when the sunglasses were added, he realized that it would let him read the cue cards without anyone noticing.)
With the Women's World Cup closing in on its finals, and the U.S. women just having a significant upset victory of host-country France, this seemed an appropriate time to post this. Because of a rain delay during a baseball game the other day, ESPN re-ran a documentary made six years ago about the 1999 women’s soccer team that won the World Cup Championship. It was absolutely wonderful – really well-done and unique. What made it so special is that one of the players -- Julie Foudy -- had a video camera and filmed all the time behind-the-scenes, and they used all that. Plus, they got many of the players together to site around on the Rose Bowl field to talk about it with great insight, humor and affection, and that may have been the best part.
This comes from the ESPN documentary series, Nine on IX," nine documentaries named after.Title IX, the law that helped provide federal funding for, among other things, women's sports in schools.
A few weeks back, I wrote a rave review about a great documentary, Maiden, about the first-ever, all-female crew for the Whitbread, a 32,000-mile around-the-world sailing race in 1989, which you can read here. As I wrote, in brief, the documentary surprisingly was extremely exciting for a film about sailing, and equally-surprisingly was often deeply emotional.
The Los Angeles Times main film critic Kenneth Turan reviewed the film on Wednesday. How big a glowing rave is it? Let's just say -- I tries nots to steer you wrong. He begins this way: "Maiden tells a mighty tale about the majesty of the human spirit and the power of women, and it’s all true." And it goes from there.
Here are two, extended passages. The first --
No matter what your expectations, this heartening doc about disregarding skeptics and moving ahead has the ways and means to take you by surprise, thrill you and make you cry.
And the review ends with this --
As if more complications were needed, Edwards, 26 when the race began, confesses to self-destructive insecurities, doubts and fears that led to conflicts with crew members, including a last-minute confrontation that made her so angry with one woman “I wanted to rip her throat out.”
You can read the full review here.
I tries nots to steer you wrong.
Here's a brief, 4-minute interview with Tracy Edwards, the skipper who was the driving force putting together the team, and Alex Holmes who directed the film -- which he got the idea to make after attending a speech by Edwards at his young daughter's school.
By the way, one of the things I referenced in my original article was that the documentary leaps out because they had SO much footage aboard the boat -- along with great archival footage of Tracy Edwards' life before she got into sailing. In an L.A. Times article by Susan King that I read, it explained more in detail how this came about.
Director Holmes said that he initially envisioned the project as a narrative film, because it never occurred to him that there would be footage of the race. It was only after Tracy Edwards told him that they actually did have cameras on board that he realized it might be possible to make as a documentary.
Edwards herself fills in the holes how that surprising reality came about --.
"The Royal Naval Sailing Association, which was our race committee, had this quite revolutionary idea to film stuff. It was all very exciting. All the other boats were going 'No, no no — we’re too busy racing; we’re too serious to take cameras on board.'
"We said, 'We’ll take them.' We did feel that we wanted to, whatever happened, capture this for posterity. I think we were probably the only boat with two cameras because Jo, as the cook, said, 'I am not doing the watch, so I’ll do the filming.' And we put a camera on the mast as well. If you heard 'All hands on deck,' the job of the last person out was to hit the panic button and that would start the filming. So that’s how we got footage in extreme conditions."
As I've posted in the past, the Chicago Cubs have had a tradition for about 20 years where they invite to the ballpark "guest conductors" to lead the crowd in the 7th inning stretch singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The singing usually ends with the guest conductor imploring the team to "Let's-get-some-ruuuuns!!!!!!!'
Today's guest left a tweet in anticipation of the occasion --
It's the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street, so that clearly had most to do with Cookie Monster being there.
Here's the event itself. (For the record, the "Gary" who Cookie Monster refers to at the beginning is longtime organist Gary Pressy.)
On final note: The video cuts off a few seconds before it should have. (In fact, all but one video that I was able to track down online cut off too early. Cookie Monster adds something but it's said almost as an afterthought quietly, and I think most people missed it. I thought of embedding that one video, but the sound quality is bad.) However, I was watching the game live, and saw the Stretch as it happened. After Cookie Monster calls out to the crowd to "Let's-get-some....COOOOK-IESSS!!!!!", what you don't see in the video is that a moment later he quietly then says, almost as a second thought -- "...And some runs, too."
As we sit in the middle of the FIFA women's World Cup championships, the guest contestant on this week's 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, is particularly appropriate -- Kristine Lilly who won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals during her 23 years (!) on the U.S. women's soccer team. Her interview with host Peter Sagal is one of the more entertaining -- ranging from her being overly-polite about things in the soccer world and Sagal politely (and humorously) busting her on them, and her competitive strain coming to the front as she's brutally honest on some topics. Perhaps most fun is the discussion of her being both a soccer mom and an assistant coach on her daughters' soccer team. (As Sagal quips, "Assistant??")
This isn't about sports. Really. Honest. The background explanation requires sports, but that's it. The video is not about sports. Honest.
On Thursday, the NBA had its college draft. And the Chicago Bulls selected Coby White of the University of North Carolina as their top pick and the #7 player overall in the entire league. This is a big deal. And one would understand his emotion wanting to talk about himself being such a high draft choice -- at any time, but especially in this era of Look at Me personal hype.
So, watch his reaction in this -- his personal moment of glory when he sat down to meet with the press immediately after being drafted as the seventh top player in America to talk about himself, his moment in the sun upon moving from college life into the adult world, being a top draft choice in the National Basketball selection, his chance to front and center and talk about himself -- when he is told by a reporter about his college teammate Cameron Johnson who had moments before been selected as the #11 selection.
Even if I wasn't a Bulls fan, I'd love this guy. But happily, I am. Even forgetting how good he is -- good enough to be the #7 draft choice in the nation -- what person wouldn't want him as a teammate? Or a friend?! Or just to know that somewhere on the planet Earth he exists?!!
Even if you don't like sports -- and if merely the idea of watching golf make your head implode -- bear with me and read this story and watch the video. Actually, videos, plural. Or just watch the first video if you think that's all you can handle. But don't worry, you'll be fine. Really. In fact, you'll probably be better for the brief time spent.
Yesterday, Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open golf championship, his first major tournament win of the Big Four. The announcers were saying as the victory neared that it would be a popular win because Woodland was such a well-liked player on the tour.
But now let's go back a few months to late January. That's when Woodland was playing a practice round at the Phoenix Open. He was introduced to Amy Bockerstette, a Special Olympics golfer, and invited her to hit a tee shot at the challenging Tournament Players Championship course -- on the controversial 16th hole. (The par-3 16th is infamous because it's entirely enclosed by stands, almost more of a stadium-setting, filled with fans all around, like being in in a fish bowl, unlike any other hole on the PGA Tour that are far-more pastoral.) .. After that shot, the group went on walking together down the fairway...but as they approached her ball, Woodland felt that one shot wasn't enough and asked if she wanted to keep playing the full hole.
What resulted between Woodland and Amy -- who the year before became the first person with Down Syndrome to compete in college -- turned into what the PGA says is the most-viral video they've ever posted, with over 5 million views. That's before this week's U.S. Open. I have no doubt the viewership went way up -- particularly after the featured it during the TV broadcast.
After the event -- and yes, that was an official par she got on the hole -- Woodland said about it, “I’ve had a lot of good memories in my life, but that’s one I’ll never forget. I’ve been blessed to do lot of cool things on the golf course but that is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. She was phenomenal. And then to step up in front of all the people and the crowd and everything and to hit the shots that she hit and made par, I never rooted so hard for somebody on a golf course and it was an emotional, emotional really cool experience.”
I should note that there is a whole lot more one can say about Woodland, but we'll keep it short. Two years ago, he and his wife were expecting twins, but only one survived. He called it the toughest year years of his life. It must be noted that his wife was not present for his win on Sunday -- Fathers Day -- that's because they're expecting twin girls.
The story of Gary and Amy doesn't end there, mind you. Here's a new video released on Sunday by the PGA of Amy and her family and friends as they watch Woodland make his last putt to win the championship. Along with a follow-up after that.
That's Amy Bockerstette. And Gary Woodland -- the new U.S. Open champion.
And I hope that was worth your time, even if you can't stand golf.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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