Friday, December 12, 2008

Unbelievable Times

-We may not remember 2008...particularly the last quarter of it...with much fondness. But one thing's for sure. We will remember it. To wit--The first non-white man in history to gain the nomination of a major political party ran for President of the United States and actually won. The year will be remembered forever simply for that. But look at what else we have--
  • The Governors of two of the nation's most populous states become embroiled in mind-boggling, incredibly-stupid scandals. One resigns. The other??

Directly from Wikipedia-

Eliot Laurence Spitzer (born June 10, 1959) is an American lawyer and former politician of the Democratic Party. He served as Governor of New York from January 2007 until his resignation on March 17, 2008 in the wake of his involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring. Prior to being elected governor, Spitzer served as New York State Attorney General. On March 10, 2008, The New York Times reported that Spitzer was a client of a prostitution ring under investigation by the federal government. Two days later, he announced his resignation as governor of New York, effective March 17, citing "private failings."

Milorad "Rod" R. Blagojevich , born December 10, 1956) is an American politician from the state of Illinois. A Democrat, Blagojevich currently serves as governor of Illinois and previously represented parts of Chicago in the U.S. Congress. He is the second Serbian American to be elected governor of any state of the United States, after George Voinovich of Ohio. On December 9, 2008, Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as solicitation of bribery. The Justice Department complaint alleges that the governor conspired to commit several "pay to play" schemes, including attempting to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacated United States Senate seat to the highest bidder. As a result of the arrest, Blagojevich has faced calls for his resignation or impeachment and removal from office.

No matter What you think of these two guys, you have to be fascinated with the Why and the Who of them. Why do they think they can do these things and get away with them. And Who the hell do they think they are? I'm no psychologist, but it seems that these two guys must have been so drunk with power, and assured of their own superiority, that they thought they could get away with anything.

Speaking of that unfathomable mindset here's the poster boy-

Orenthel James "O. J." Simpson (born July 9, 1947, also known as The Juice) is a retired American football player, actor, spokesman, and convicted felon. He originally attained fame in sport as a running back at the collegiate and professional levels, and was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, a mark he set during the 1973 season. In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman after a lengthy, highly publicized criminal trial. A 1997 judgment against Simpson for their wrongful deaths was awarded in civil court by a jury, but to date he has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment. In September 2007, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada and charged with numerous felonies, including robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, coercion with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit a crime. A jury found Simpson guilty of all charges on October 3, 2008; and he was sentenced on December 5 to at least nine years in prison.

Is it possible that some high-profile personalities need so much to be the center of the universe that they act irrationally and without fear of failure? Must be...Because these clowns will be the prime examples of narcissism for college Psych 101 for as long as they teach it.

Other '08 memories--(and I'm beating the late December news shows to the punch here)

-Stock market goes bust amid mortgage crisis etc. etc. etc. We've heard enough.

-Michael Phelps

-Sarah Palin...and to some degree John McCain

-Tina Fey does Sarah Palin.

-Bailout becomes the word of the year

-W gets all-time low approval rating

-Pirates (not Johnny Depp) rule the sea

-Terrorism strikes again (Mumbai)

-Gas falls to below $2-a-gallon

-California (of all places) votes to outlaw same-sex marriage

And, in my humble opinion, the biggest story that went under-reported-Researchers Decode the Genome of a Cancer Patient: Scientists at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University report that they have sequenced all the DNA from the cancer cells of woman who died of leukemia and compared it to her healthy cells. In doing so, the experts found mutations in the cancer cells that may have either caused the cancer or helped it to progress. It is the first time scientists have completed such research. They're getting close to figuring it out. And how big, and positive, would that be?

Yep, Twenty-oh-Eight will stick with us for a while and we're not done yet.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tinseltown Update!

-Still smarting today from yesterday's passing of our girl Liza... but its with excitement that I write today. Ohhh...the emotional roller coaster.

-Son Stewart has taken another significant step toward the acting success he is seeking in Hollywood. And we're jumping up and down here at the ol' Millstadt ranch. And this time we can share his work with you! Since it's video, and it's on the internet, anyone reading this, with a fairly high-speed connection, can watch. I'll give you a link a little later on.

Stewart landed a role with the producers of the webisodes found on For the unititiated, this is essentially a website that produces television shows for viewing only on the internet. So, the show that Stew is in can only be seen by people at the computer...not on any of the traditional broadcast or cable TV networks. But, having said that, is gaining a large following and you may notice, if you spend any time on the computer, that they do a significant amount of national, heck international, advertising on various websites. I've seen the ads on and several others. You'll see the ad (right) frequently on the net these days.

The series in which Stew appears is In2ition. I can't claim to know exactly how the show is set up, or the basic premise. I do know that certain people have super powers...similar to the show Heroes on NBC. The young lady pictured at right...Emily Pennington...plays the central character Hope Fox. There's a fair amount of intrigue/espionage going on. I haven't gone back to the show's beginnings yet to get the full picture. But what's obvious is that this show is very well done. The technical quality and production values are quite good...which you will see if you look for yourself.

What also makes these internet shows interesting is that viewers are invited to suggest story lines, character introduction and development. So each webisode is sort of co-written by the suggestions of someone who views it. Apparently, a young man suggested the introduction of the character that Stewart portrays in his webisode.

So Stewart W. Calhoun plays a fellow named Seth in webisode #7 titled Bring Them Home Safe. He apparently is brought in by one of the show's lead characters..Mrs. Fox (Emily's Mom).. to interogate someone by using his super ability to "get into the head" of others. He takes on a real "Keanu Reaves--The Matrix" look in this part. Or at least he does to ol' dad. By the way, the young man in the show who plays the part of Alex is actually Alex Schemmer who played opposite Stewart in the musical Thrill Me--The Leopold and Loeb Story back in the early part of the year. Alex apparently recommended Stew for this part. That's kind of how things work in "the biz". Thanks Alex!! from Stew's parents back in the Heartland.

This webisode, as are most of them you'll find on this website, is very short...around 2 minutes. So, you won't spend a lot of time downloading...or viewing. Here's the link. Just click on the icon to the right.

Feel free to post a comment on what you think of the show and our guy in Hollywood.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Good Bye Liza-Loo

There was absolutely nothing special about the dog.

That's what I thought when I first saw her. In a moment of weakness in 2001 I consented to "board" her for a short time while "Outdoors Dan" Young found a home for her with some people who had a farm in Iowa. Dan and I were working together at KTRS at the time, and he said a client of his had this black lab puppy that was wandering around their place of business in downtown St. Louis and getting into the trash. He said it was a good dog and he would make arrangements for it long-term if we could take it short-term. I made the mistake of asking Barb if she wanted a boarder for a few days. Of course, once the dog came home with me that day and jumped out of the box in the backseat to huddle up close to me, the deal was done. Dan was off the hook.

But, there was nothing special about the dog.

I kept thinking...What are we doing taking in a lab/who-knows-what mix when we already have a nice Springer Spaniel? We don't need another dog...especially one that is nothing to get excited about like this one. This dog was no prize winner. It was no guard dog. It was terribly undersized for a lab...even a lab mixed with border collie...or whatever. It wasn't a proud dog. It was always afraid of something. It would cower in the corner, or somewhere, during storms. It wouldn't even protect it's own food from the other dog. What a wimpy mutt. What did I do...bringing this thing home?

What did I do? Well, we better come up with a name... How 'bout Liza...y'know like Liza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. A girl from the streets...with no fancy breeding or that needs to be taught the ways of the world. OK...yeah Liza. That sounds about right.

So over these past seven-plus years the dog proved itself pretty smart and learned a lot.

She learned to enjoy running. Not like on the mean streets downtown. But running like crazy after squirrels in our woods...looking skyward as they jumped from tree-to-tree and she barked. She loved to run. If she wasn't chasing the squirrels, it would be a romp through the woods with the occasional dip in the creek, a bark at an owl, or a growl at a deer.

She learned to love that ride in the back of the pick-up as I drove down to the end of the driveway to get the mail or paper. That ride in the front with that nose stuck out the window wasn't too bad either...especially when we stop at the bank drive-up. Because dogs get treats there. She knew when we were pulling in to get excited.

She learned that the place to be in a storm is the basement. And she might have saved our lives one day in '03 when a small tornado slammed into our woods. The weather guys on TV were way behind on that one. But Liza was on duty barking and asking to go downstairs seconds before the trees started blowing around and down. Had there been any damage to the main level...and potential injury...she would have been the hero of the day.

By this time, obviously, my opinion of her had begun to change. We now sometimes referred to her as "The Black". It solidified her position in our household as not just the other dog. She was "the black one".

About a year-and-a-half ago, about the same time we were putting down our old Springer Fergie, we began to notice a growth on the back of Liza's right hind leg. We didn't think much of it at first. But when it started to grow rather rapidly, we decided it was time to see the vet. We were told that it was a growth that should come off and be biopsied. The biopsy indicated, as the vet had feared, that it was a cancerous tumor known as a hemangiopericytoma which you can read all about by clicking the link. It's not an uncommon thing for larger dogs and it's definitely not a good thing.

We had surgery done to remove the tumor twice. We were told that it was likely to come back more aggressively each time. So when the tumor re-appeared after this summer's surgery, we knew we would have a problem keeping her much longer. The options we had were to have the leg amputated and/or undergo very expensive radiation treatment or keep her as long as possible and then have her put down. I couldn't bring myself to agree to an amputation. This dog lived for running in the woods and playing with the critters outside. She was always on guard, and ready to spring into action, as in the photo above (taken this morning). She wasn't going to be a frustrated three-legged dog on our watch.

Recently the tumor was approaching baseball size. And it was obvious the skin on her leg couldn't contain it much longer. Yesterday it didn't. Barb and I looked at each other knowing the time had come to face the fact that pet owners always fear. Our beloved pets aren't forever. She was still a healthy dog...or so it appeared. But that damned tumor...why won't it go away and let her live? So I took her back to Doctor Mike Harres this morning...and stopped at the bank drive-up on the way. (She seemed to enjoy the milk bone more today.) Having the vet tell me this morning that I was doing the right thing because her life would be miserable very soon didn't make it any easier to watch her draw her last breath.

As I sit here now writing with tears streaming down my face...I say...with tremendous respect for the mutt in all of us...Liza, you will always be proof that first impressions aren't nearly always correct. You were a very special dog. We will love and miss you forever.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

30-Second Timeout

-Some random thoughts this time on the world of sports...or at least the region of sports.

-Poor Jim Haslett. Did he anticipate it could be this bad? Now, even though Scott Linehan started the season, Haslett's name is now more closely associated with this debacle of a season as head coach. I can't imagine he's getting much sleep. And, I can't imagine him getting the two wins that he supposedly needs to stay on as coach. He may be better off career-wise if he doesn't.

-It appears the Blues have something of a "Who's number one?" goaltending contoversy brewing. Manny Legace has served the team well during his tenure. But Chris Mason has suddenly become the more reliable guy over the last few weeks. It will be interesting to watch how Andy Murray handles this juggling act going forward. If Mason starts to clearly separate himself as the top dog, it would seem logical that Legace would become trade bait by the 3/4/09 deadline.

-Jeff Cooper's WPS club that will start play at Korte Stadium at SIU-E in April will be called Athletica. They say the name was sort of made up... which was verified by Cooper at the press conference announcing the moniker.-- "People ask, 'Is that even a word? Well, it is now." Sounds sort of "soccery" to me.

-I have nothing against Marc Bulger the person. He seems to be a decent fellow. But Marc Bulger the quarterback has sunk to the level of...dare I say, Tony Banks, Mark Rypien, or Jim Everett... during the Rams current mess. The one-time Pro-Bowl player is now among the worst QB's in the matter what numbers to which you refer. To be sure, it's not all his fault. But a great quarterback, which most of us thought he was, or would become, would win a game or two during the season all by himself. It doesn't look like he's nearly capable of that given his borderline-pathetic play lately. I suppose most of us would get shell-shocked too if we were constantly harassed by enormous defensive linemen the way he's been. But, even so, the money that management has invested in Bulger...some 65 million dollars in the current contract...seems like a colossal misjudgment as of now.

-The next few weeks should prove interesting for Cardinals fans. With the Winter baseball meetings getting underway next week, and much on the wish list for GM John Mozeliak, we should get a pretty clear picture soon of how aggressively the 'Birds ownership will approach things. Aggression has never been a word associated with our team's spending noone should expect a major upgrade in payroll. And there seems to be more intent to build from within the the expected future of certain minor-leaguers will likely be a major part of the thinking process too. If we get to the end of '08 with the lefty reliever and middle infield situation clarified for the better, I'll be pretty happy. After that, anything else deemed exciting will be a bonus.

-The Davids...Backes and Perron. Difference makers...sometimes. When they know their way around the league a little better, they'll be much fun to watch.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend Woundup

-A nice couple of wins this weekend for the Blues. And when's the last time we were able to say that? The more I watch pro sports, the more I have one of my core belefs reinforced. You must have a group of hungry young players on your team to be successful. I'm not saying that the veteran Blues players are "too comfortable". But, it's obvious that when you infuse some players who may be marginal on talent, but high on effort, that you get a better game from everybody. I think that, as much as anything, explains the success of the Blues this weekend. The group worked hard for a full game. And even though some key performers were out injured, the organization overall has more depth of talent and bringing up some of those guys from Peoria brought a higher level of effort to the overall picture.

I remember seeing Steve Regier during training camp and thinking the guy had a good skill set and size. Seemed like he could play some NHL hockey. Well he's beginning to make that look like a pretty good observation by this non-expert. Cam Paddock is another who may or may not have a long-term NHL future. But he's good enough to play the game at this level and certainly not embarass himself. Some of the other youngsters are stepping it up as well. At least it's nice to know that the future continues to brighten and the depth of the team continues to deepen as The Note's long haul back to Cup contender continues.

-The Rams? Oh my goodness! Maybe we were spoiled by the late 90's/early 00's success of the Horned Sheep. But holy mackerel...this team has become unwatchable. Were the really bad Rams of the early St. Louis Rams days this bad? I don't think so. They were pretty bad...but at least they seemed to put out a reasonable effort. This team seems hell-bent on convincing us that they don't want to play the game. "Please coach...please, please, please put in somebody else. I don't feel very well", is the attitude I seem to be getting. I had to watch the Cardinals play the Giants today to get what I considered a pro football fix. The Cardinals? Oh my goodness!

I suppose the two wins after Jim Haslett took over must have been a couple of Sunday mirages. I can't imagine this bunch of losers actually beat the Redskins and the Cowboys. That couldn't have happened.

The off-season can't come fast enough for the Rams organization. Will we see the team sold? Will we see a front office and new coach? We certainly must see a new...maybe not better...but new, set of players. Somebody, somewhere better have a very strong game plan on how to bring this team out of the state it's in. As I said ...Oh my goodness!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lost City?

-It's hard to know where to start when analyzing the dismal state of St. Louis professional sports after this weekend's let's start with the team that didn't play.

-The rumored Matt Holliday for a package of Cardinals players...including Ryan Ludwick and his prolific '08 has a lot of jaws wagging and fingers typing. As I said on the radio today when discussing the possible deal with Ron Jacober, it seems to me that Cardinals management is saying that their opinion is that Ludwick's performance this season was a fluke...or at least an anomaly. If they believed that his .299 avg/37 HR/113 RBI season was the real Ludwick... one that could be counted on for the next 7 or 8 seasons...they don't talk about dealing him. It's pretty obvious they believe him to be a player who's trade value is high...but real value is not nearly so. I have to say that the idea of Holliday in a Cardinals uniform and standing on deck while Albert Pujols strolls to the plate is a mouth-watering notion. For that reason, and because the Cardinals have a glut of major-league quality...if not star quality...outfielders, I'm ready to see it happen. Losing Skip Schumacher and Mitchell Boggs (the other players supposedly going to the Rox) doesn't concern me. Schumacher is a nice guy to have around...Boggs seems to be a 5th-guy-in-the rotation arm at best. The business end of it? Well, that could be problematic if they can't get Holliday's agent (the infamous Scott Boras) to be reasonable about a multi-year extention. Go ahead Mo. I'm on board.

-The Blues have put together a disappointing couple of weeks and compiled a 5-game losing streak as I write. Nobody thought this season would be a cakewalk...especially the pre-season prognosticators. But The Note gave us reason to believe things would be significantly improved with their pre-and early-season scoring barrage. And scoring hasn't been the problem during the losing streak. Keeping the puck out of the goal has. Of course, they wouldn't be the Blues without having to deal with a mess of injuries. The goalies, T. J. Oshie (one of the best players early on), and Paul Kariya have been absent lately. And it's tough to win without your best players on the matter what sweater you wear. I wouldn't think Andy Murray is in any sort of trouble as coach even though quite a few pundits seem ready to send him packing. I think management knows Murray is limited in what he can accomplish with the current roster. No matter how you want to sugar-coat it, the kids can't be expected to carry the load of a playoff-caliber performance. Not yet. So it's hockey for hockey's sake...and savor the wins when they happen. I've analyzed these things wrongly before, so it's entirely possible I'm wrong again and the wins will return in droves.

-Now to the pathetic Rams. Obviously, the two-game win streak...if you can call it that...after Jim Haslett's ascension to head coach must have been a mirage. Today's roll-over-and-play-dead routine in New York was as disgusting a performance by a "professional" sports team as anyone could imagine. 40-to-nothing at half-time? The East St. Louis high school team could have done better. There are so many problem areas on this squad...and everywhere else in the organization...that it would take a genius just to come up with a sensible plan on how to blow it up and re-start. And I'm certainly no I won't try. All I know at this point is that it seems like a century since the Rams were the toast of the town and Kurt Warner appeared to be a guy we could count on to lead the Super Bowl parade down Market Street every year for many. Now he's on his way to the playoffs with Bill Bidwill's outfit in Phoenix. Oh the agony!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Afterthoughts

-There are those who think the election of Barack Obama is the most wonderful thing to happen in the history of this nation. And of course, as with most things political and racial, there are those who think the opposite. But there can be no arguing however, that in simply historic terms, election day 2008 has provided a truly amazing occurence. This writer found himself shedding a tear while watching President-elect Obama's victory speech because of the sheer magnitude of the moment. Striking too, as one who lived through all of the racial animosity of the 60's, was to hear a black man extoll the virtues of this country and speak so eloquently about his love for it. To all of us, but in particular our minority citizenry, 11/4/08 will always be a very special day. There has never before been a man of proven and admitted African bloodlines as President-elect of the United States. There can be no doubt about it being a landmark in our country's timeline.

Some questions and thoughts:

-Who can claim credit? That an African-American was elected to the presidency forty-some years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is remarkable in itself. Just who got this ball rolling? Clearly, you have to trace it back to the courageous and noble people who, in service to the nation, saw no reason why one man should have inherent superiority, or indeed ownership, over another...said so, and acted upon those convictions. Just as obviously, the leaders of the civil rights movement of the sixties and beyond receive credit for calling attention to the plight of minorities in a media environment that was ready for the story. But, I also believe you can legitimately point to the sizeable segment of the population who heard the "N word" on a regular basis and had the courage to say.. "Not around me". The people who took minority friends in the face of outside pressure to not do so. I'm talking about the every-day man and woman who simply did the right thing when previous generations had not. These are people who now need to be released from the too easily-uttered label of racist... simply because of their whiteness. Because these were likely the first Americans to raise families in which respect and tolerance was the norm, not the exception. With young people playing such a large role in this election, it's obvious that the children and grandchildren of these people were instrumental in electing Senator Obama to the world's most important job. It's been a process. One that likely, as Mr. Obama said, could only happen in a country with a Constitutional framework such as ours.

-Will Obama's victory end the discussion about whether racism in this country prevents minority accomplishment..or exacerbate it? Many will likely say that Obama was successful in the face of the racist population's best efforts to defeat him. Others may say that he was accorded a "free pass" because of his partially-Caucasian background. Some will have the good sense to look beyond all that to the non-racial factors and say "Yes we can". But, the discussion of race relations, and all that goes with it, will likely be more prominent in our consciousness for a good long while.

-Will the election process now be reviewed? Many stood for hours in line to cast their ballot on Tuesday. This doesn't take rocket scientists to fix...does it? Can't we finally begin a national discussion...officially in congressional amend the Constitution to bring the election process into the 21st century. Why not allow voting to take place for an entire weekend? Vote on days when most of the population wouldn't need to take off work, or miss some other obligation. Does the electoral college process still have merit? Can we use home computers in some way to vote? Should there be rules governing the media and how it reports election results? All of these questions, and more, should be addressed now that this election has brought a sizeable new population into the process.

-Will this election be viewed as the turning point in history that many believe it to be? President-elect Obama has already said that he didn't lose sleep over losing the election...he lost sleep over what happens if he won. The true test of the man is yet to come. Can he and his team accomplish what his speeches promised? Can he bring true bi-partisanship, and the drive to change, to Washington as he suggests? What can really be done by a President to fix the economy, foreign relations, our war efforts, the environment and many other overwhelming challenges? Does the Obama plan for the country and it's problems hold water? Starting in January, we'll all begin to find out if the election was historic from more than a race-relations standpoint. For the sake of all of us, I hope so.

-What will McCain's future hold? I thought Senator McCain's concession speech was the shining moment of his entire campaign. He seemed to be coached out of his true personality throughout most of it. In conceding his loss, he appeared to revert to the warm-hearted and sensitive American hero that we knew him to be. His words were spot-on and his approach was mindful of the love he has always professed for the United States. Does he now become a cabinet member in the Obama administration? Does he retire? Does he return to run for office again in a few years? Whatever the answer, he did himself, and our newly elected leader, proud with his final act of campaign '08.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Plea From a Baseball Lover

-Boston, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Denver, heck maybe even Oakland and San Francisco. All are North American cities with major-league baseball franchises, no domed stadium, and where no reasonable person would expect to find enough good weather for the World Series to be playable in late October. Why don't baseball owners, and The Commissioner who works for them, get that they are letting their greed override common sense when it comes to scheduling these games? Can't they see they are ruining the showcase event of their sport? Huh? Can't someone step up and be reasonable here?

I watched, snickering most of the time, the comical effort put out by MLB on Fox TV last night. Game 5 of the freakin' World Series played in 30-degree temperatures and blowing rain for at least an hour-and-a-half before Carlos Pena of the Rays was thoughtful enough to get a game-tying hit to make it easier for the Commissioner's office to suspend the game to be finished at another time. Had Pena not gotten that RBI single, Bud Selig would have had to suspend the game with the Phillies leading saying that the game wasn't over (contrary to standing rules), award the Phillies the world championship based on a six-inning victory, or continue to play in those ridiculous conditions. In each instance, the sport comes off looking foolish. As it was, a new rule instituted in '07 allowed the Commish to suspend the game and not start over from the beginning. I thought I definitely detected in the voices of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver...(because they were understandably reluctant to say it directly)...their disgust for the conditions, and that the game was even being played on the 27th of October in Philadelphia.

All that aside, let's go back to the real problem. You can't expect to have baseball weather in late October. You just can't. Not unless you invent some new control over Mother Nature. And not in most cities that have baseball teams. My list above doesn't include any teams in the southern part of the country, or cities with domes. But look at the list of cities where 7-10 days of good weather is unlikely in October...especially late October. MLB needs to play the World Series earlier in October...but even better would be September. In September, when the World Series was played in the "good old days", you may fully expect to have enough good weather to play these games without creating a farcical situation such as last night. And when you do, and you have good baseball weather, you would be presenting your sport in such a way as to truly attract new fans...not chase them away. You would have, in most cases, a comfortable, and probably beautiful, setting in which to present your sport. Especially if you could also manage to have the good sense to play the games in the warmth of the day.

I remember as a kid having to sneak peaks...or quick the World Series while in school during the day. I also remember my dad excusing me from school in order to take me to Cardinals World Series games in 1964, '67 and '68. As a kid, it was wonderful...getting out of school to go to the World Series with dad...memories I'll always cherish. And when at school, even if you got caught, the teacher would at least understand why your attention was diverted for the day...or a moment. It's the World Series for crying out loud! Who isn't going to understand? And who isn't going to find a way to watch or listen if they are really baseball fans? Does anyone really think that a couple of World Series games on a few workdays will lessen productivity more than computer games...or instant messaging?

But, of course, now it's all about the TV ratings, and the dollars that drive them. You can't...oh just can't play the games in the daytime. Too many people would have to work. Too many young people would be in school. You'd be depriving the national audience of a chance to be involved. Hogwash! Do what's right for the players, the managers, the teams that have fought for the chance to win the championship, and the fans of your sport... you greedy owners. Play the games in September...and at least one in each host city during the daytime! Two if you have Saturday/Sunday games back-to-back. How about this potential schedule...
Game 1- Saturday 1pm
Game 2-Sunday 1pm
Game 3-Tuesday 3pm
Game 4-Wednesday 7pm
Game 5-(if needed) Friday 1pm
Game 6-(if needed) Saturday 1pm
Game 7-(if needed) Sunday 1pm

A lot of folks in baseball would can't do that. (And they would be encouraged to think so by the TV executives). Too many conflicts with college and pro football and all the other things. Well, how about knowing that your event is more important to a large segment of the population than all those other things? (Like the folks with The Masters golf tournament who do things by their own rules...insisting on a certain quality of presentation from the TV folks...and maintaining enough confidence in the value of the event to do so.) Have some confidence in baseball, and your championsip event, as a product. Schedule it when it's the right time for the players and fans...not around all of those outside influences.

One other suggestion. Cut down spring training by at least a month. Baseball players don't work second jobs anymore to need spring training to get in shape. They're in shape all year. They come ready to play. Start spring training in February if you want. Start the season in March by scheduling most of your games in southern cities...or domed stadiums. If you lose a few March games to weather, remember the good ol' double-header. Then you'll be able to keep the same number of regular-season games...and play the World Series in September...when it makes much more sense. Use your noggin Mr. Commissioner. Make it happen.

Oh, by the way...Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, there's a chance the World Series will be still going on in NOVEMBER of '09. Sheesh..Gimme a break!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palin Curse?

-Let me start this one by saying I have nothing against GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin. I think she's injected some interesting elements into this election that we haven't seen before in a U.S. presidential race. So, don't take anything you're about to read as evidence that I'm anti-McCain-Palin...or favor Obama-Biden. 'Taint so. Anyway....

We weren't very far into the game at Scottrade Center last night before the talk became heavy in the penalty box (where I work)...and on my clear-com headset that the Palin Puck-drop Curse had been transferred. You see, Governor Palin had dropped the first puck in Phildelphia earlier to start the Flyers season. In the wake, the Philly hockey squad had lost 6 straight games and lost star forward Daniel Briere for a month due to injury. The so-called "hockey-mom" was blamed by legions of Flyers fans for the tailspin and Flyers owner, and GOP donor, Ed Snider was held in contempt by many of Philly's hockey faithful for scheduling Palin.

Philadelphia media were all over the situation when it was announced that Palin would perform the same function at Friday night's Blues-L.A. Kings game. They knew it was a shot at getting rid of the dreaded curse and restoring sanity to the Flyers who were thought to be a contender for the Atlantic Division title before the season. Flyers faithful were no doubt watching closely last night to see what sort of fate the Blues decision would hold for them.

Before the ceremonial puck was even dropped last night at the barn on Brett Hull Way...Blues star goalie Manny Legace slips and injures a hip-flexor muscle (many are at least relieved that he didn't blow out a knee having had knee surgery in the off-season) while attempting to negotiate the carpet laid out for Palin's on-ice trek. We all saw Manny go down. We all saw Manny in some sort of obvious pain. We all cringed. He lasted one pain-filled period and gave way to Ben Bishop who made his NHL debut as a result.

It's interesting to note that not once in the 20-plus years that I've been doing the p.a. for Blues games has a pre-game ceremony participant entered the ice from the same entrance gate that the players do. I've seen many a ceremony like this...and not once do I remember the puck-dropper and entourage entering from the players gate. There are three others...not counting the Zamboni gate...for someone to access the rink. Two would require the guest to deal with fans in the stands though. So I'm guessing that the Secret Service and building operations decided that this gate was the quickest and safest entry to the ice for Palin and they would deal with the carpeting issue when the players came out for the game. Well, they tried to deal with it...but stuff happens.

The game itself...well... it's easily...real easily...the worst the Blues have looked so far this season. There seemed to be no life to their game. They gave away the puck like candy at a parade. They got nothing going that looked like an offensive attack. They seemed disinterested. They, of course, weren''s just how they looked. Final score: Kings 4, Blues 0. The Note managed only 15 shots on goal in the whole game. 3 in the second period...sheesh. If you didn't know better, you could have been convinced they were all "slipped a mickey".

Palin, for her part, stayed for the first two periods and enjoyed the game from owner Dave Checketts' luxury suite. Checketts and much of the ownership was in from New York to take in the night's star attraction. By the end of the first period I would think Palin, likely not being oblivious to superstition in sports (she once did sports on TV for an Alaska station), was already thinking about the so-called curse. She probably knew full well that the Blues were taking a pretty good whipping from the Kings. She likely also had info about Legace's pre-game injury on her puck-drop carpeting. I'm guessing she probably won't be asked...nor would she accept...another such "opportunity" prior to the election.

By the way, congratulations to the St. Louis fans for showing how a person nominated to be a national leader should be treated in such a situation. There may have been a few boos, but they were overwhelmingly drowned out by the positive reception accorded the night's special guest. Philly fans weren't...and never have been...nearly so classy.

So, if you're a believer in black cats, ghosts, UFOs, and not stepping on a sidewalk crack, then I guess you can put as much credence into the Palin puck-drop Curse as your little noggin will allow. Becuase after last night, there's plenty of stuff to work with. Now we wait to see if "the curse" continues into future games. Let's hope it's all a bunch of interesting, election-year coincidence.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quick Hits

-Reviews have begun to come in on actor-son Stewart's show in L.A. How Cissy Grew--world premiere this past Saturday 10/18-- receives high praise from Variety theatre critic Julio Martinez. Since Stew has been in SoCal, the reviewers from Variety have easily been the most difficult to please. So this is indeed a strong sign of professional approval. Stewart's castmates, James Denton of Desperate Housewives, Erin O'Brien, and Liz Vital all receive high praise in the critique which you may access here. As to Stewart's participation, Martinez says:

-Stewart W. Calhoun offers the closest thing to comic relief, competently wending his way through all the confused and defeated boys and men in Cissy's life.

UPDATE--More reviews in:

Jeff are several fascinating moments in this new 90-minute one-act, thanks mostly to four impressive actors and Casey Stangl's seamless direction. full review

Charlotte Stoudt--LA Times--There are some wonderful moments: Butch educating Cissy's first boyfriend (Stewart W. Calhoun) on the facts of fatherly life; and Johnston's monologues for the guilt-stricken Butch, beautifully underplayed by Denton, are the show's highlights. full review

Jonas W. Calhoun is given little to do as the several boys in Cissy's life; yet he manages to be spellbinding and seductive as Cissy's New York lover and pensive as her boyhood friend. full review

In the wake of the opening, Stewart informs us that he is excited to begin a relationship with the management company of Michael Abrams. The Michael Abrams Group will now be in search of appropriate and effective acting assignments for our guy. Stew tells us Mr. Abrams is extremely highly regarded in the business and the folks back home are tremendously gratified that he has taken a professional liking to the kid from Millstadt. Onward and upward!!

-Joe...thebroadcaster--not plumber. Congrats to dear friend, and long-time voice of the Gateway Grizzlies, Joe Pott. Joe's been tabbed as the new voice of the Cougars at SIU-E. Details here and here. As I've said here before, there isn't a more professional young broadcaster around than this guy. I know he'll do a great job for my old alma mater as the athletics progam moves to Division 1 status. But more importantly, wife Emily and young daughters Madeline and Katie will have a better future with their extremely proud husband and father.

-So V.P. candidate Sarah Palin will be at Scottrade Center to drop the ceremonial puck for the Blues-Kings tomorrow night. Should be interesting to hear what sort of crowd reaction she gets. Kinda hard to judge the make-up of a hockey to socio-economic status and political leaning that is. I'm guessing there'll be a smattering of boos...but nothing outrageous. I guess I'll try to say hello if she enters the rink from the penalty box where I sit. I'll definitely try for a photo...and if successful it will be seen here.

-I haven't been so disinterested in a World Series in a long time. But I am pulling for the Rays because of my friendship with their TV voice Dewayne Staats. I know how much it would mean to him to be associated with a champion.

-The Blues got behind in a game with the wrong team last night. Their habit of doing so hasn't been a problem with some of the other competition they've had so far. But the Red Wings have too many world-class players to find yourself in a 3-0 hole against. It was exciting for yours truly to announce the first NHL goal for Blues star rookie T.J. Oshie. The fans seemed to get a charge out of seeing his first pro goal too.

-What's going on with David Duchovny? Submitting to re-hab for sex addiction...rumors of an affair with his tennis coach...and other insundry rumors. Seems like the Hank Moody character he plays in Californication might be more true-to-life than he'd like to admit. Duchovny has an undergraduate degree from Princeton and two daughters with the extremely hot Tea Leoni. Sounds like he must be one of those guys who can't be happy with a "regular life".

-Good to see that the Rams will be adding Dick Vermeil to the team's Ring of Honor at the EdJones dome. Vermeil, for most of us, represents the only true association with a chamionship feeling in pro football that we've ever known. Nobody in the Bill Bidwill era of Cardinals football, or Rams football before or since DV, has given us that king-of-the-hill feeling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Giant Step

-While most folks outside of southern California and show business would be unaware, son Stewart (professional name Stewart W. Calhoun) passed another significant mile-marker in his budding acting career this weekend. I am pleased and proud to once again share what details I have with you here.

James Denton (best known as Mike Delfino on ABC's Desperate Housewives) and wife Erin O'Brien are the stars in the world premiere of the play How Cissy Grew which debuted Saturday at the El Portal Forum theatre in North Hollywood. Stewart is joined by Liz Vital in the supporting roles in the four-member cast required by playwright Susan Johnston's work. Casey Stangl directs the show. (Cast photo-->) While reviews aren't yet available as of this writing, Stewart tells us that all feedback he has received so far for the show and the performances has been very positive. UPDATE--click here for the review by Variety's Julio Martinez.

Because of Denton's heightened celebrity and affiliation with a hit TV show, there was a much higher level of media attention, glitz and glamour surrounding the show's opening night than is normal for a play...even in Hollywood. A number of the Housewives cast, including Terri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman were on hand to lend support and take in the show. Producer Mark Cherry was also seen on the red carpet Saturday. A goodly number of other non-Housewives actors and industry insiders stopped by as well. One in particular, William Fichtner (bank manager in Dark Knight--also seen in Fox TV's Prison Break--pic below) offered Stewart some very encouraging words after Saturday's world premiere performance.

Obviously, this show offers Stewart the chance to rub elbows with high-level working actors and producers in the Hollywood professional community. This type of exposure and networking opportunity is priceless in the super-competitive field our guy is attempting to crack. As you no-doubt already know, it's not enough to have enormous talent and/or looks. You also must be able to play the business game that it takes to land the big parts. And, of course, that all starts with getting smaller parts with the help of someone who can make that happen. We are also given to understand that How Cissy Grew could eventually be transformed into a film. Prospective producers were supposedly on hand Saturday to begin the process of deciding if that will happen. Stewart, one would think, would have a leg up on the competition if it does. So if our kid is to make it in the business, it's obvious that he will likely look back on this project as a major step in that direction.

Of course, Barb and I are thrilled that Stewart's talent is beginning to be recognized and that he is steadily climbing the ladder of success in his chosen field. As I've stated here before, we've always known he's had an exceptional gift. Now, it appears, that it is also being recognized by the professional world in which he wants to participate.

All photos (with the exception of Mr. Fichtner) taken opening night and courtesy of Cissy runs through November 23rd.