Sunday, October 2, 2016

PA Trip - Day 4

Pigskin Scoreboard

A big part of the rationale for my trip to visit my best friend Skip in Pennsylvania was the prospect of two glorious days of football-watching on his new TV, a mammoth 85-inch beauty. Yesterday was Day 1 of that, and unlike last Saturday woeful debacle, the results were mostly positive.

After falling behind 13-3 at halftime, Skip's beloved Penn State Nittany Lions roared back to beat Minnesota 29-26 in overtime before a wildly enthusiastic home crowd at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.

The game was most entertaining, and the victory advanced PSU to 3-2 on the season
and 1-1 in the Big Ten. They play undefeated Maryland next week.

As for my own rooting interests,
it was mostly a successful day.

In a game featuring very little defense, especially in the first half, Notre Dame beat Syracuse 50-33
in East Rutherford, NJ.

Boston College also won, beating Buffalo 35-3.

Among my service academy teams, 3-1 Army had the week off to rest up for a road game against Duke.

In a matchup of undefeateds, Navy played Air Force in Colorado in the first game of the round-robin series for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. The Falcons won 28-14
to remain undefeated at 4-0 while the Midshipmen are now 3-1.

Iowa State led virtually the entire game against undefeated and No. 13 Baylor at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, but the Cyclones lost 45-42 on a field goal as time expired. Nebraska, unfortunately, remained undefeated by beating Illinois.

On the plus side, the detested Kansas Jayhawks got drubbed yet again, losing 55-19
to Texas Tech in Lubbock. The Iowa Hawkeyes also lost, falling 38-31 at home to Northwestern.

"It must have been a good day, as I didn't hear nearly so much cursing."

You'd have heard plenty if you had been around for the Iowa State game, old friend...

Titanic Tussle

The highlight of football today, and the biggest reason that I timed my visit for this weekend, is the Sunday Night Football clash between my beloved Kansas City Chiefs and Skip's beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams are 2-1 so far in the 2016 season.

"Will there be any trash-talking?"

I suspect there will be a fair amount of that, yes...

Must-See TV

Television was still in its infancy when I was growing up, which meant you had at most three channels to watch, all of whom went off the air not long after the last local news broadcast of the day. That meant that popular TV shows were much more a part of shared American experiences than they are now, much more a part of the cultural language that pretty much everyone understood.

Today we celebrate the birthday of two programs that were an enormous part of my childhood television experience.

Original title card
On October 2, 1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents debuted on CBS.

Long before I had any idea that Hitchcock was a famed movie director I was a fan of his droll humor and dark mysteries. Widely regarded as one of the best-written episodic TV programs in history, the show also featured a veritable Who's Who of acting talent.

The show's famous opening theme was in fact a piece of classical music, an excerpt from French composer Charles Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette."

Original title card
On October 2, 1959  
The Twilight Zone debuted on CBS. The brainchild of screenwriter
Rod Serling, who served as the show's Executive Producer while writing more than half of its 156 episodes, it was also an anthology series similar to the Hitchcock show. In this case the stories typically had futuristic, paranormal, or other unusual themes.

Serling also served as host and narrator for the show, and his introductory and closing remarks for each episode were a big part of the show's appeal.

My parents were both huge fans of the series, which meant I was one too. And as with the Hitchcock series, The Twilight Zone is considered one of the best-written shows in TV history, and featured an impressive array of acting talent.

The show's famous opening theme, by Marius Constant, didn't appear until Season Two. For the first season a Bernard Herrmann theme was used.

"I liked that Twilight Zone episode with the really big ants."

You're thinking of "The Zanti Misfits," but the Zanti weren't really ants...

Keep Both Feet On the Floor, Kids

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

Until Next Time...

As my senior year of high school was winding down in May 1971, British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart finally broke out in a big way in the U.S. market. After his first two solo albums didn't make much noise on the charts and his first six singles failed to chart, in early May Stewart released the classic recording that turned his career around.

On October 2, 1971 Rod's solo album Every Picture Tells a Story reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, a position it would hold for four straight weeks. That ended the historic 15-week No. 1 run of Carole King's Tapestry album.

Sales of Stewart's album were driven
in large part by the popularity of his Billboard Hot 100 Singles No. 1 hit "Maggie May." That song was simply inescapable if you listened to rock radio that spring and summer, and starting on October 2 spent five straight weeks atop the Hot 100.

It quickly became Rod's first signature song and his first gold record. It also made the album his first RIAA-certified platinum recording.

There were other strong cuts on the album as well. My personal favorite was his cover of the 1966 Temptations hit "(I Know) I'm Losing You." That single was also a Top 40 hit, peaking at No. 24.

Today's send-off is the official version of Rod's interpretation of the song, from the album's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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