Friday, August 12, 2016

Familiar Faces

Thank Wandjina It's Friday!

"Wet enough for ya? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Soggy Summer

We had yet another round of thunderstorms here in the Bluffs yesterday evening, which curtailed my plans to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower.

It is a fault of perception to think that this has been an unusually rainy summer, as the data suggest rainfall has been completely normal so far this year.

Nevertheless, my aching joints firmly believe that it has been unprecedentedly rainy...

"And your joints are never wrong, is that what you're saying?"

That would be an accurate surmise, yes...


Last night at Kauffman Stadium my beloved Kansas City Royals won their second straight game, beating the White Sox 2-1 in a tense conclusion to the three game series, which the Royals also won two games to one. The team has now won two straight series as well, and finished the homestand 4-2.

Now 9-1, 2.82 ERA
Royals starter Danny Duffy was superb once again, pitching a complete game and allowing only
a single run on seven hits. He struck out six batters and did not give up a single walk.

Duffy's distance-going performance was most welcome, since the team's bullpen had been depleted by two straight extra-inning games the preview two nights.

Trailing most of the game, the Royals tied the game in the bottom of the 6th when CF Jarrod Dyson walked and scored on 3B Cheslor Cuthbert's triple.

All-Star 1B Eric Hosmer's single scored Cuthbert, and the Royals had all the runs they would need.

"If Ned is still jammed up for a Saturday starting pitcher I'm available."

You don't even have hands, dumbass...

Happy Birthday!

On August 12, 1880 Christopher Mathewson was born in Factoryville, Pennsylvania
He began playing baseball semi- professionally when he was just 14, and made his major league pitching debut at age 20.

Christy Mathewson went on to win 373 games, mostly with the New York Giants. That is still the National League record, and he was one of the First Five inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. 
The honor came posthumously, 
as Christy died in 1925 from tuberculosis related to his military service during World War I.

As a young boy I read voraciously about baseball, and about the game's legendary early stars. What struck me most about Mathewson was his reputation as a gentleman in the sport, and his strong Christian faith (he never pitched on a Sunday). When I played baseball as a kid, I always imagined myself as Christy whenever I pitched.

On August 12, 1931 William Goldman was born in Chicago. He went on to become one of America's great storytellers both as a novelist and 
as a screenwriter.

Goldman was the first novelist I became obsessed with in high school. I bought 
a cheap paperback edition of his novel Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow off of a drugstore book rack when I was 17 because the cover made it sound like 
it was all about sex. Before my senior year of high school ended I had read every novel he had published to that point (writing reviews of each of them for extra credit in English class).
Soldier in the Rain was my favorite.

Not long after I got married in 1974 he published Marathon Man, in my opinion his best novel. They made an awesome movie based on the book in 1976, with Goldman writing the screenplay.

He won Academy Awards for his Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and All the President's Men screenplays, and in my opinion his nonfiction book The Season is the best single book ever written about the inner workings of Broadway theatre. I also greatly enjoyed his Hollywood memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade. Before long 
I hope to get to the two sequels, Which Lie Did I Tell? and The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood?

I've learned a tremendous amount about good writing, and about being a writer, from Goldman. One of my pantheon of literary superheroes.

Requiescat in Pace

Sometimes I fall a little behind in
my reading, and as a result I'm sometimes late noticing current events. Just this morning, for instance, I learned that actress Sagan Lewis passed away last Sunday, at age 63.

Lewis graduated in 1971 from Thomas Jefferson High School here in Council Bluffs, the same year
I graduated down in Kansas City. She was a star in drama in high school, and performed on the same stage where I directed when I led the drama program at TJ back in 2014.

Sagan is probably best remembered for her starring role on St. Elsewhere, one of my favorite TV shows back in the '80s.

I Can Relate, Kid

From the wry comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On August 12, 1949 Mark Freuder Knopfler was born in Glasgow, Scotland. The son of
a teacher and an architect, Mark set off on a relatively conventional path after the family relocated to England, attending college and graduating with an English degree, and beginning a university teaching career of his own.

From a young age, however, Mark also had an affinity for music, and he played guitar in a wide variety of amateur musical groups until forming the band Dire Straits in 1977 (his younger brother David was also a founding member). The group's eponymous debut album, released in 1978, featured the hit single "Sultans of Swing" and introduced me to one of my all-time favorite guitar players.

By the time the group had released four straight successful albums, Mark's musical muse led him in other directions, including an interest in scoring for motion pictures.

Original 1983 "one sheet" poster

In 1982 he was hired to score the motion picture Local Hero, and the resulting album was well-received critically and commercially. The film was also reviewed quite favorably, and remains one of my favorite "little" films of all time.

The film's closing music, "Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero," became one of Knopfler's best-known non-Dire Straits songs, and has been adopted as an anthem by a number of sports teams in England and Scotland. It was also played at the end of Dire Straits concerts to signal the audience to go home, and it became of staple of Knopfler's solo concerts.

The main motif of "Going Home" actually occurs much earlier in the film, in a piece called "Wild Theme." Much as I enjoy the anthemic, fully-orchestrated "Going Home,"
it is the earlier, simpler version that still evokes the most powerful emotional response from me.

Today's send-off is "Wild Theme," which shows off Mark's delicate and haunting style of guitar beautifully. Enjoy...

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