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.
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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