9 posts categorized "Sports"

24 April 2018

The play-by-play's the thing

With apologies to the Beatles:

It was 50 years ago today
Professor Mercer taught the band to play-by-play

Mercer and me300

Two days have passed, and I still can't get over the fact that legendary sportscaster Bill Mercer sent an invite to join him for lunch to me and about 20 others from his 35-plus-year University of North Texas (UNT) broadcasting and sportscasting teaching span.

Mercer is famous in the sports world for wrapping his feet with plastic wrap in an attempt to stay warm enough to call the famous “Ice Bowl” NFL championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in 1967, not to mention the Cowboys first two Super Bowl appearances.  He was in the booth when the Texas Rangers set up shop in Arlington and those slightly long of tooth will recall Mercer at the mic when "Studio Wrestling," taken seriously by many back in the 1960s or so, was taped before a small audience in the KRLD-TV (now KDFW) studios.

His credits are too numerous to mention.  Suffice it to say that the Texas Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, Texas Radio Hall of Fame and Dallas Press Club “Living Legend of North Texas Journalism” member who shared the broadcast booth with Don Drysdale when the Texas Rangers first hit the field was/is larger than life.

Continue reading "The play-by-play's the thing" »

01 July 2016

Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers

Yankee330rI make no apologies for star-spangled banter when it comes to Independence Day.

So, proudly fly the U.S. flag, thump an ice-cold watermelon, crank some homemade ice cream and get the family together, it's the Fourth of July weekend, time to celebrate this great country of ours.

Continue reading "Flags of our great grandfathers and grandmothers" »

26 May 2016

That old doppelgänger of mine

BBpic350rYou would agree, I suppose, that when alternate universes collide, it should be duly noted.

The incident I'm entering into the public record occurred May 20, 2016 from about 9:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Continue reading "That old doppelgänger of mine" »

01 September 2015

Celebrating Bergman, classic movies

Bergman330r
Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund in "Casablanca." (Courtesy: ona.blog.so-net.ne.jp)

Had legendary Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman not died on her 67th birthday (Aug. 29) in 1982, the radiant screen star and three-time Academy Award winner would have turned 100 years old last Saturday.

We noted Bergman's lofty place in Hollywood history Sunday night during my "Savor Those Tunes -- Great Movie Music" Movie Memories presentation at Highland Springs retirement community in North Dallas.

Bergman won Oscars for Gaslight (1944), Anastasia (1956) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).  Since the "Savor Those Tunes" presentation is a focus on the best movie songs in history, we celebrated Bergman's performance opposite Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942), which also happens to be my favorite film of all time.

Bergman, who could shed a tear on screen like no other, commanded the camera and audience attention as she asked Sam (Dooley Wilson) to play As Time Goes By "for old times sake."

Thanks to Barbara Blachly, community resources coordinator, and all the great folks at Highland Springs for an enchanted evening of Movie Memories.

Harvesting the Fields of classic movie comedy

YouCant250
(Courtesy: Universal Pictures)

Maybe it was the fourth-grade education, or perhaps it was the fact that his alcoholic father allegedly hit young William Claude Dunkenfield over the head with a shovel.  Whatever it was, caustic comedy came flowing out of W.C. Fields with a flourish.

One of our objectives here is to scan the classic movie TV channels early in the week to offer suggestions for viewing or recording what we consider to be the prime offerings.

That's where W.C. Fields comes in.  TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is having a Fields day, if you will, on Friday.  The high jinks begin at 7 p.m. with The Bank Dick, written by Fields (under the nom de plume Mahatma Kane Jeeves) and starring Fields as a henpecked guy who replaces a film director, appears to capture a bank robber and eventually gets hired as a guard at the bank.  Please note that all times listed are Central Daylight Time.  (Check your local listings for times in your area.)

If that's not enough, TCM follows up with It's a Gift (1934) at 8:30 Friday evening and caps off the wacky comedy at 10 with You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939), in which Fields shares the screen with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.  It's up to you to decide which one is the dummy.

That's just the tip of the classic movies iceberg this week, though.  My favorite Western of all time, John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) fills the screen with a great cast of Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Andy Devine and Edmond O'Brien at 9 a.m. Saturday on AMC.

Later Saturday, at 7 p.m. on TCM, those in the mood for a little romance can enjoy a tangled web of romance and drama starring Bette Davis as a repressed and depressed woman looking for love in some of the wrong places in Now, Voyager (1942), co-starring Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.

If you're like me and you can't pass up a drama featuring the cinematic trifecta of Tennessee Williams (who wrote the stage play), director John Huston and gifted actor Richard Burton, check out The Night of the Iguana, co-starring Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon, at 5 p.m. Thursday on TCM.

And, you might want to consider:

  • Dr. No (1962) -- The first in a long line of James Bond action-spy thrillers features a very young Sean Connery as British secret Agent 007.  Ursula Andress provides the eye candy as Honey Ryder.  (3 p.m. Friday on MGM HD)
  • How to Steal a Million (1966) -- Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole join forces in a romantic crime comedy.  (Noon Saturday on the FX Movie Channel)
  • Lars and the Real Girl (2007) -- OK, it's not quite a classic yet, but if you're in the mood for something filled with touching moments with just the right amount of dark, dark, comedy, try this extremely offbeat tale featuring Ryan Gosling as a lonely young man who falls in love with a real doll.  Note:  When I say a real doll, I do mean a real doll.  (4:55 p.m. Wednesday on MGM HD)

If I had to choose just one classic film to see, this week, I would settle in at 10 Friday night on TCM to see the great W.C. Fields do his comic magic in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man.  I'm a sucker for the outrageous ping pong match.

   

27 April 2015

How's the New Year's resolution going?

Computer300rSorry, I just had to ask, primarily because mine is going so well. 

Not that I want to gloat, but I've lost enough weight that our bathroom scale is now down into the numbers range.  It wasn't always that way.

For longer than I care to remember, that little window on the scale -- the dreaded eye into our soul of self-loathing, if you will -- didn't show any numbers at all, just letters or words.

"One at a time" was probably my favorite at the highest point of actual weight and lowest ebb of self-esteem.

Then, after some half-tries to do something about my situation, I eased down into the "OMG!" range and, finally, after self-discipline which I figure equals the resolve of "The Little Engine That Could," I got the scale to merely whimper "Help" for a while.

Now I'm down into numbers, baby, and descending with the not-so-blazing speed of a packed elevator at the end of a long day touring the refried bean factory.

I guess you're wondering how I pulled off this amazing success.  Easy ...

We got bikes!

We bought them at night, in a hurry.  What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, actually.  My wife Suellen's fun-on-two-wheels machine actually turned out to be a semi-rusted demonstrator suffering from MacArthur Park syndrome. You know, the song?  Except it wasn't the cake left out in the rain.  In this case, it was her bicycle, which will actually reluctantly shift a gear or two after five or six squirts of WD-40 and some serious handlebar-grip twisting.

Bike300rMy shiny new ride is a Huffy.  I like to refer to it as a Huffy Puffy, mainly because we have some gently sloping hills in our neighborhood that appear to transform into Pikes Peak with speed bumps once I'm on the saddle.

(Saddle:  The proper name for a bicycle seat, which I think was invented by a disturbed man or woman who enjoyed watching others suffer.  Also, "bicycle seat sore" just doesn't have a ring to it like "saddle sore" does.)

The hills in our 'hood may not actually jut 14,115 feet into the sky like that Pikes Peak thing, but it sure feels that way when I'm pedaling at about a thousand RPMs and tipping the speedometer at somewhere between 3/4 and 1 mph.

Not that I have a speedometer on my bike.  I just know I'm not setting any speed records because a newborn puppy-dog just learning to stand on all fours  beat me up the hill the other day.  Also, it's common for people on that street to come out in their front yards to snicker at me (and, I suspect, place bets) as I sweat and pedal my way up the gradual slope.

Whatever.  My diet and exercise program is working, so what do I care about how the neighbors feel?  And just for the record, I'm pretty sure that little doggie is part greyhound.  In fact, I'm declaring success.  My New Year's resolution of 1979 has finally been accomplished.  So congrats to me.

Now I can get serious about the next year's resolution:  Become a world famous standup comedian before 1980 comes to an end.

I can't worry about that right now, though.  Gotta go.  It's time for my snack.

Yum, frijoles refritos.

09 July 2014

Oh no, not 'Dumbo' too!

Dumbo350r
(Walt Disney Productions)

That noise you may be hearing today might just be Walt Disney spinning in his cremation urn.

According to an article published on the Hollywood Reporter website, Disney has a live-action Dumbo reboot in the works.

I'm not sure how you feel about that, but from this aisle seat it's almost as bad as saying there's a remake of Casablanca in the works with Channing Tatum taking over the Humphrey Bogart role of Rick and Kim Kardashian as teary-eyed Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman.

"This is the latest classic animated title that Disney is turning into a live-action movie, and it’s a strategy that has paid off: Maleficent, the most recent example, is a re-imagining of the 1959 movie Sleeping Beauty and has grossed more than $630 million worldwide since its May 30 release. The granddaddy of them all is the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland, which has earned more than $1 billion," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

No word yet when the live-action Dumbo will debut.  I'm thinking the timing may have something to do with finding a lovable baby elephant with giant floppy ears that can fly and -- here's the tough part -- cry on demand.

'Tammy's' bad B.O.

Tammy320r
Melissa McCarthy's starring vehicle "Tammy" is hitting some box-office potholes. (Warner Bros.)

You think you've got problems?

Well, maybe you do, but you'll have to go some to beat the Hollywood pity party that some of the major movie studios have going on following the disappointing weekend B.O.; box-office that is.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, historic lows were reported over the long Fourth of July weekend.  Tammy, the R-rated lowbrow comedy teaming Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon, led the downer derby with a weekend gross of only $32.9 million, says the Hollywood Reporter article.

"Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year's $229.8 million haul and the lowest in 16 years. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year — a disadvantage — but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27," the article stated.

Oh boo hoo.  Here's an idea:  Make better movies.  Want more advice?  Come up with some fresh franchises and discontinue the embarrassing practice of extending and/or remaking worn out franchises like Spider-man, Batman, Transformers and the like.

The new Senior Voice is here!

SeniorV220lThere's good news for those of us who have already passed 50 without slowing down or collecting $200.

The Senior Voice newspaper is in news racks all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Editor/publisher Carol Butler has put together a great July-August issue, which includes a terrific article on Fort Worth screenwriter James V. Hart.  (Here's the link.)

If you're curious about the movies I'm looking forward to during the next couple of months, check out my Getting Reel movie column on Page 12, or click this link.

Oh, and if you get a little confused and concerned when you get to the part where I'm really looking forward to Tammy starring Melissa McCarthy, shoot me an email (MovieMemories@verizon.net) and I'll be glad to explain how long-distance deadlines work.

Pedal pushers -- Tour de film

Breaking320r
Dennis Christopher in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.

08 July 2014

'Tammy's' bad B.O.

Tammy320r
Melissa McCarthy's starring vehicle "Tammy" is hitting some box-office potholes. (Warner Bros.)

You think you've got problems?

Well, maybe you do, but you'll have to go some to beat the Hollywood pity party that some of the major movie studios have going on following the disappointing weekend B.O.; box-office that is.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, historic lows were reported over the long Fourth of July weekend.  Tammy, the R-rated lowbrow comedy teaming Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon, led the downer derby with a weekend gross of only $32.9 million, says the Hollywood Reporter article.

"Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year's $229.8 million haul and the lowest in 16 years. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year — a disadvantage — but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27," the article stated.

Oh boo hoo.  Here's an idea:  Make better movies.  Want more advice?  Come up with some fresh franchises and discontinue the embarrassing practice of extending and/or remaking worn out franchises like Spider-man, Batman, Transformers and the like.

The new Senior Voice is here!

SeniorV220lThere's good news for those of us who have already passed 50 without slowing down or collecting $200.

The Senior Voice newspaper is in news racks all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Editor/publisher Carol Butler has put together a great July-August issue, which includes a terrific article on Fort Worth screenwriter James V. Hart.  (Here's the link.)

If you're curious about the movies I'm looking forward to during the next couple of months, check out my Getting Reel movie column on Page 12, or click this link.

Oh, and if you get a little confused and concerned when you get to the part where I'm really looking forward to Tammy starring Melissa McCarthy, shoot me an email (MovieMemories@verizon.net) and I'll be glad to explain how long-distance deadlines work.

Pedal pushers -- Tour de film

Breaking320r
Dennis Christopher in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.

07 July 2014

Pedal pushers -- Tour de movies

Breaking320r
Dave (Dennis Christopher) is not a champion Italian cyclist. He just plays one to get the girl in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.

20 August 2012

Once a King was enough for me

King300This is about the time I squared off for about a 20th of a round with boxing promoter Don King in the Las Vegas airport.

At a frozen yogurt stand at the Las Vegas airport to be more exact.

Eight or 10 years ago I was returning from Los Angeles movie star interviews and had a 40 or 50-minute stopover between flights at the Sin City airport.

It only took me five minutes or so to lose $37 in the conveniently located airport slot machines.  That was all I had on me, except for a fiver I kept for emergencies.  So I looked around for another vice to keep me occupied until my flight was called.

"There it is," I said to myself as I wandered away from the ding-ding-ding of the alluring slots.  "Frozen yogurt!"

You know frozen yogurt.  It's that mystery chilled concoction -- neither ice cream nor yogurt, really -- that ice cream-a-holics like me shovel down with slightly less guilt than the full-fledged stuff that comes from the overly contented cows seen in TV commercials slurping down grass outside the Blue Bell ice cream factory in Brenham, TX.

I was looking over the wall menu when I heard some commotion behind me.  I looked around just in time to see Don King and his entourage nudging people in line aside as they plowed their way in unison -- like a well-trained NFL offensive line; No, more like a snowplow disrupting a tranquil neighborhood street full of playful kids -- to get to the counter.

"I don't care if it is Don King.  They'll have to get through me if they want the No. 1 spot in line," I thought as my lips tightened and I prepared for battle.

Well, they got through me without much of a fuss (for them, at least).  I floated out of their path with the slightest wimpy resistance.  Unlike Muhammad Ali, I never quite got around to stinging like a bee.

I was seething and hot under the collar, though.  In fact, I had to order a large to cool down after King and his court were gone.

I say all that to say this.  Somewhere, Don King is celebrating his 81st birthday today.  So, happy birthday, Mr. King.  I hope you're enjoying a celebratory frozen yogurt without having to bluster your way to the front of some line today.

And I apologize for thinking what I wanted you to do with that frozen yogurt (cone and all) back in Vegas.  I've calmed down since then.

Besides, I'm pretty sure that's not even even humanly possible.   

Great to CD you, Ron Young

RYoung260
Ron Young's been pickin' and singin' "Under the Texas Radar" too long.
I have no idea when Ron Young's birthday is.

But know this, the title of Ron's new CD, "Under the Texas Radar," sums up the talented Texas troubadour's plight and fight to claim a place as a Lone Star singer-songwriter to be reckoned with right alongside Willie Nelson (the king, of course), Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Billy Joe Shaver and The Derailers (a personal favorite).

Ron has pulled off the near-impossible; making the difficult transition from a music critic to a bona fide musician himself.

The first time I met him Ron walked into the San Antonio Light newspaper newsroom in the early 1980s to drop off his weekly music column.  I had just arrived in San Antonio, and was settling in as an entertainment reporter and film critic.

Although his music reviews were concise, informative and fun to read, Ron just had that look.  He was not yet where he was someday going to be.  From this aisle seat, Ron has arrived there with "Under the Texas Radar," a 15-tune declaration of independence and Young's bill of rights.

I'm still humming the catchy, somewhat playful beat of "Done (Stick a Fork in Us)," a tune of remorse over a busted relationship that somehow comes with its own musical fog machine in an attempt to shield the pain.

Young, like so many others with a heart bursting with dreams, a guitar case in hand and a notebook full of songs, made the musician's pilgrimage to Nashville, and has written more than 400 songs by his count.  "A Long Ride" chronicles those years.

What impresses me most is that Young bares his soul between the guitar strums.  That has to be the real test of a singer-songwriter worth his salt and shot of tequila at the end of a long barroom night.  The song that got to me most was "Daddy's Chair," a lament about what really matters in life.

You'll hear a little Bob Dylan, a little Hank Williams and even a little Bob Wills in Young's music.  And perhaps Young's knowledge of his musical peers, perhaps a byproduct of his old music critic days, inspired his request for a little musical mentorship in "Waitin' On Willie."

What makes "Under the Texas Radar" a four-jalapeño listening experience for me, though, are those moments when Ron breaks the bonds of his influences and just sings as himself.

Ron Young doesn't need to wait on Willie any longer.  He has arrived.

An open invitation

I'm very happy to, once again, offer a series of film classes this fall at Richland College as part of the Emeritus plus 50 program.

Things will be a little different this time.  The Movie Clips and Current Conversation series, which runs for four Thursday mornings Sept. 13 through Oct. 4 from 10-11:30 a.m., will feature lively discussion.

It's an opportunity for you, the student, to share your opinions and thoughts on subjects like "Do movies reflect our actions or dictate them?" and "The movies today:  High prices, outrageous snack costs and cell phones," just to cite a couple.

This is a non-credit course with a fee of only $18.  And remember, there is no homework, no outside study and no final exam, just a chance to get out of the house and meet some folks who, like you, have an interest in staying active and maybe even learning a thing or two.

If you'd like to join in the fun, call the Richland College Continuing Education Department at 972-238-6146 or 972-238-6147 and tell them you'd like to sign up for course SRCZ 1000 81911, registration No. 789367.

(Don King photo courtesy:  telegraph.co.uk/Ron Young photo courtesy:  Tana Thomasson/Ronlyoung.com)

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