Monday, September 12, 2016

Drama Kings


One of the primary pleasures in sports is seeing things that have never happened before. At the professional level, almost every contest provides at least one such moment, although most of them are merely good (or bad) plays which have little overall meaning. Yesterday, however, fans of my beloved Kansas City Chiefs were treated to the greatest comeback in the team's 56-year history, as they overcame a 21-point second-half deficit to beat the San Diego Chargers 33-27 in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2016 season-opener.

Chiefs QB Alex Smith had a stellar day, going 34-of-48 for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Alex also scored the winning touchdown in overtime, plunging in from the two-yard line to cap a 70-yard drive. Because the Chiefs were able to score a TD on the overtime's opening drive, San Diego never got an offensive possession in the extra period.

The Chiefs played without star RB Jamaal Charles, who was inactive for the game, raising concerns about his progress recovering from knee surgery.

In the meantime, RB Spencer Ware evoked memories of Chiefs Hall of Famer Ed Podolak, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown, and adding another 129 yards on seven pass receptions, including a huge 20- yard catch-and-run to begin the game-winning drive in overtime.

After playing miserably in the first half, the Chiefs defense clamped down in the second half, allowing the Chargers only a pair of field goals in final 30 minutes of regulation. Thanks to Alex Smith and the offense, they never had to take the field in overtime.

As badly as they played in the first half, the historic comeback was only possible because the defense took a step forward after halftime.

"I also thought your cursing game was pretty impressive so early in the season!"

Thanks...I had a good pre-season, but it's nice to translate those efforts into regular-season success...I'm just going to stay humble and keep working hard, taking it one game at a time...

Another Pitcher's Duel

Although they are pretty nerve-wracking, as a baseball fan I enjoy a good pitcher's duel every so often (provided my team wins, of course). Yesterday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago my beloved Kansas City Royals won such a game, beating the White Sox 2-0 to win their six straight road series.

Now 11-9, 3.62 ERA
Royals starter Ian Kennedy out-dueled White Sox All-Star Chris Sale, allowing just one hit and no runs with six strikeouts in his six innings of work.

Relievers Peter Moylan and Kelvin Herrera pitched two perfect innings to hand the game off to closer Wade Davis. Wade struggled again, giving up a hit and a walk to put the tying runs on base in the 9th before recording his 23rd save.


DH Kendrys Morales continued his recent power binge, hitting a solo home run leading off the second inning to give the Royals a lead they would never relinquish. It was his 27th of the season, and his fifth in nine games.

All-Star 1B Eric Hosmer made a little history by leading off the 6th inning with his 23rd home run, his third off of Sale this season. Sale has only given up 8 home runs to left-handed batters in his seven seasons in the majors, and Hosmer now has three of them.

"Nice win! What did it do for the team's Wild Ca--"

Shut your ant-pipe...

Happy Birthday!

On September 12, 1880 Henry Louis Mencken was born in Baltimore. Inspired by reading Huckleberry Finn when he was nine years old, H.L. Mencken resolved to become
a writer himself.

He accomplished this in part by immersing himself in the works of the greatest writers in English, which eventually led him to publish his scholarly study The American Language, basically a defense of the English language as it had evolved at the hands of the ordinary people of the United States.

As a journalist and essayist, Mencken is one of America's great curmudgeons, and thus one of the patron saints of this blog. Mencken was a prolific writer, so I usually suggest that people interested in him begin with A Mencken Chrestomathy, a collection of his writings he chose himself as his best work.

Very Punny

From the Jeff MacNelly-created comic strip Shoe, now being produced by Gary Brookins and Jeff's wife Susie MacNelly, which you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

I'm not entirely clear when it first started, but at some point in the '90s it became commonplace for TV shows to incorporate popular music into their programs in addition to the usual original musical scoring. I first noticed it in programs I began watching because of their popularity with the high school students I was teaching. Shows like Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer often used recent pop and rock music hits to enhance their storytelling, and before you knew it the practice was everywhere.

Some of my favorite recent TV shows, like House, M.D. and Justified, also employed the technique. I even got a couple of ideas for songs to use in plays I was directing from their use on such programs. Because it often features music that was a big part of my adolescence, Supernatural quickly became one of my favorite shows once my students at Atlantic got me to start watching it.

One song which the show features often is the Kansas hit "Carry On Wayward Son," which is for all intents and purposes the show's theme song (it doesn't have traditional opening theme music). The song is often used in montage sequences recapping previous episodes (like this one from Season 11, this week's Video Recommendation).

Sam and Dean chat with the stage manager and director
For the show's 200th episode, "Fan Fiction," they did a story in which a group of students at an all-girls private high school were mounting a musical version of Supernatural. It was a brilliant (and yet affectionate) send-up
of the show's story and its main characters (who are mostly men, but of course that's nothing a bit of creative costuming and deft makeup can't overcome).

Back when I was directing, I was always a big fan of play-within-a-play shows like Stardust and Macbeth Did It, so I really enjoyed this episode's whimsical tone. I also liked that it had a genuine fondness for high school theatre and its associated "drama."

Today's send-off is the "cast's" performance of "Carry On Wayward Son," the finale of the "show" within the show. Enjoy...

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