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In Other Words

A companion to It's About TV! A cultured take on politics, sports, religion, movies and whatever else we feel like.

Updated: 2018-02-18T06:49:54.736-06:00


Flashback Friday: Crossing The Bridge


What with all the madness that's been going on the last couple of weeks, and the idea that killer whales should be considered human beings, it seems an apropos time to remind ourselves that there's nothing new under the sun. A few years ago, when Drew first penned this piece, it was in reaction to a proposal by some liberals that to “reduce the carbon footprint” on the planet by depopulating – in other words, humans must die (off) so the planet can live on. Taking it one step further, there’s the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which suggests that “everyone in the world should stop having kids all at once.” As someone said at the time, that would indeed be the only logical extension of such thinking. “Wouldn't it be only proper for people suggesting this (and heck, given a chance, they'd enforce it) to kill themselves and set an example?”This was precisely the idea behind D. Keith Mano’s brilliant, disturbing 1973 novel, The Bridge. Long out of print (as is, sadly, most of Mano’s work; the best place to find them is a used book store), The Bridge is set in the dystopian New York of 2035, where civil war has resulted in a world run by a radical environmentalist/totaliarian regime. In this world, all forms of life – “down to the merest microbe” – are considered equal. All acts of aggression – even disagreement – have been outlawed. The absurdity of their thinking is summed up in the words on a plaque outside the now-deserted and crumbling Yankee Stadium, “Where, in an age of brutality and ignorance, men presumed to compete against their brother men.” (Interestingly enough, Mano didn’t anticipate the use of inclusive language – which shows you that 1973 was, indeed, a long time ago.) Mano demonstrates the ruthlessness, indeed the inhumanity, of such inflexible thought with this exchange between two prisoners of the regime, discussing the consequences that followed when all automobiles were banned: "It was after the road breakers came. After my brother died because there was no car to take him where the doctor was.""Lots of people died like that.""They said thousands had died in cars. It was better that one man should die because there were no cars." Despite these and other decrees designed to, as we would put it today, “reduce the carbon footprint,” a mass genocide continues, to which the regime’s response is stark, and final:Whereas it has been ascertained irrefutably by the Council's Emergency Committee on Respiration that the process of breathing has and will continue to destroy and maim innumerable forms of microscopic biological life, we of the Council, convened in full, have decided that man in good conscience can no longer permit this wanton destruction of our fellow creatures, whose right to exist is fully as great as ours. It is therefore decreed that men, in spontaneous free will and contrition, voluntarily accede to the termination of their species. . . It is hoped bretheren, that you will donate your physical bodies to the earth in such a manner that the heinous crimes of murder and pollution committed by our race throughout history may in some small way find redress.Not to put too fine a point on it, but one could almost imagine the names of some of our more prominent environmentalist/politicians being attached to a statement like that, don't you think?From thereon in, The Bridge becomes something of an action thriller, with Mano's protagonist - the unlikely, but typically Manonian-named, Dominick Priest, who had been imprisoned for the crime of "competition" (playing chess) - on a quest to return to his home and his wife, a journey which will take him through a landscape run riot by decay, overflowing vegetation (remember, even cutting grass is a murdeous crime) and wild, feral animals, and regime officials seeking to enforce the Council's mandatory suicide decree, culminating in a harrowing crossing of the remains of the George Washington Bridge.Ultimately, what Priest represents is the resiliency of man, the urge to survive, the quality which is the bain not[...]

Opera Wednesday


When we have more time, I'll write at greater length about Francis Poulenc's stirring Dialogues of the Carmelites, which has a tremendous relevance to the post-Christian times in which we now live, but in the meantime here's the dramatic conclusion: the Carmelite sisters, having been condemned by the Satanic French Revolution, make their way, one by one, to the guillotine.

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Flashback Friday: The trials and tribulations of being a fan


I'm not entirely sure how one conveys the experience of being an Arsenal fan if you’re not a follower of the English Premier League, or soccer in general. To compare the experience to that of being a Chicago Cubs fan is too extreme; Arsenal’s had nothing like 110 years of futility. There’s a similarity to it, though, the sense that no matter how well things might be going at a given time, the Gunners are going to find a way to screw things up. For the last decade or so, Arsenal has been the dictionary definition of “good enough,” a team which has gone a dozen seasons without winning the championship* but always manages to finish in the league’s top four, which qualifies them for the lucrative Champions League.*Virtually no one expects them to prevent this from becoming season number 13.It’s not that Arsenal lacks good players, or the money to buy more. It’s that their players often fail to rise to the level required for a championship side, and the team’s management seems intent on bargain shopping, passing up the chance to acquire top talent not because they can’t afford it – like every other team in the Premier League, they have plenty of money thanks to the League’s new television contract – but because they can’t justify to themselves that the cost is worth it. They’re like the old lady who’s lived in squalor for as long as anyone can remember, only when she dies it’s discovered she had two million dollars stuffed in her mattress, and another million or so in bonds hidden in a cookie jar. They may be quite right in judging that Paul Pogba, for example, isn’t worth anything like $116 million, but as long as their competitors are willing to pay that amount, then Pogba’s objective value is meaningless; it’s his subjective worth, that of being a player who can bring the title to Manchester United, that is the only thing that matters.Last year was perhaps a defining stage in Arsenal fandom, at least from this fan’s point of view. For the first time in years Arsenal was actually favored to finish in first, and even the team’s followers seemed ready to put all doubts aside, particularly since the League’s traditional powerhouses – Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea – were all struggling. If ever there was an opportunity, this was it.And yet, we all know how that turned out – 5,000:1 shot Leicester City pulled off the upset of all time and won the title; Arsenal finished second, its highest finish in years. But even when Arsenal threatened, shortly after the first of the year, it was difficult to cheer them on; Leicester had already captured the hearts of soccer fans worldwide with their Cinderella run, and it seemed somehow more compelling, more important, to root for the Foxes than to waste the energy on an Arsenal title bid that would likely end in failure anyway. The fact that Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Leicester on February 14* was actually somewhat disappointing seemed to confirm the Arsenal fan experience – or lack thereof.*Leicester’s third and final loss of the season, which explains why they won the title; Arsenal, by contrast, lost seven. At three points per victory, the four extra defeats amounts to 12 lost points. For a team that finished 10 points behind in the final standings, that makes all the difference.Arsenal’s majority owner is the American Stan Kroenke, who also owns the Los Angeles Rams. This article, although it pertains to the Rams and doesn’t once mention Arsenal, goes a long way toward explaining how a once-powerful side could wind up mired in mediocrity for so long, and how hard it is to root for a side owned by, to be blunt about it, a creep. These two articles, on how long-time manager Arsene Wegner has failed to adapt to the times (so much so that his name has become a noun in the Urban Dictionary for being unwilling to spend money), shows how why he’s become the perfect Kroenke manager, just as Arsenal has become the perfect Kroenke team. When “good enough” me[...]

But first, a word from our dealer


It is hard for me to adequately express my hatred for television commercials pushing prescription drugs. And I use the term ‘pushing’ fully aware of its connotation, because I find it appropriate.This is a level of resentment that far surpasses the annoyance we have all felt with certain commercials: used car ads where every line is screamed instead of spoken; commercials that change the lyrics to iconic songs to sell cat food; the subtle advancement of social justice agendas where the practical person of color has to explain something simple to the doltish white guy in the office.Prescription drug ads irritate me at a more primal level. I find their very existence odious.Some of this stems from ubiquity: on certain cable channels every other ad contains the phrase “Ask your doctor about…”I’m a proud capitalist and have never felt I had the right to tell anyone how honestly-made income should be spent, whether that’s a CEO salary some might consider exorbitant, or paying $10,000 for a limited-edition wristwatch that provides the same time of day as Mickey Mouse.But the sheer pervasiveness of this one type of product ad makes one question unavoidable: Why are drug companies spending this much money ($60 billion a year by some estimates) to promote the benefits of products that no one can actually go out and buy? Couldn’t these funds be more responsibly spent on research and trials and developing tomorrow’s cures?I doubt physicians are being persuaded by commercials featuring an elfin redhead dressed like a human digestive tract, or a woman walking around town trailed by her anthropomorphic bladder. But I’m sure over the past decade they’ve become fed up with calls from patients, wondering why they are not getting the same stuff that that helped that woman on TV go bowling with her family again.No wonder the American Medical Association has called for a ban on prescription drug ads. Can’t come too soon.I also wonder what return on investment companies receive for all this advertising, particularly since some of these drugs are meant to treat conditions that are extremely rare.Cars and candy bars and household cleaners are promoted via a medium that reaches into everyone’s home, because almost everyone buys them. But when I watch Danny Glover pretend to break into spontaneous tears and laughter to illustrate the symptoms of Pseudobulbar affect (PBA), I wonder why a national advertising campaign is deemed appropriate for a product that 99.3% of Americans will never want nor need.And stop with that “PBA” stuff too. Suddenly every illness has to have a cute nickname. Atrial fibrillation is now “A-Fib” (any relation to J-Lo?). Will epilepsy soon become “Shakey Shake”?I also abhor the length of these spots. There is no such thing as a 30-second pharmaceutical commercial. A full 60 seconds are mandatory to introduce our sad, suffering protagonist, to portray their discovery of a magic little pill that their doctor didn’t tell them about, and then to share in their joy as they are now able to walk their dog – play with their kids – take long bike rides through the park again.Of course that extra time is really needed to accommodate the comical litany of side effects lawyers demand be verbally enumerated. This is always immediately preceded by the reluctant admission: “(drug name) is not for everyone.” These bits have been parodied plenty already, but that recognition should not distract us from the utter insanity of some of these stipulations.Take Jublia, which you may do if you have toenail fungus. The condition is unsightly, but you can live a perfectly contented life if you wear socks. Jublia frees you from this burden, but if you’re pregnant and you rub it on your toe, it could harm your unborn fetus. If it could inject something into your system powerful enough to do that, what else could it do?Oh, and it’s also flammable. Apply it to your foot by candlelight and you might burn down your house.[...]

Opera Wednesday


Ed Sullivan was a man who liked to think he had his finger on the pulse of the American entertainment scene. “If he understood and liked an act,” biographer James Maguire wrote, “[the public] would; if he didn’t, his audience probably wouldn’t either.” That instinct didn’t often fail him, as the appearances by Elvis and The Beatles will attest.

He also realized that there was a great middlebrow audience out there, viewers who enjoyed seeing the latest Broadway plays and New York operas but didn’t have much of a chance to see them in person, and he was dedicated to giving them that opportunity through his show. Recreations of scenes from plays, musicals, and operas were common, with the singers and actors appearing in costume on a reproduced set. It wasn’t enough, thought Sullivan, to recreate the performance; he wanted to recreate the experience as well.

And that’s how, in November of 1956, the great Maria Callas came to be on The Ed Sullivan Show. Callas had made her Met debut on opening night of the 1956-57 season in Bellini’s Norma. On November 19, she would premiere perhaps her most famous role, that of Puccini’s Tosca. Sullivan knew the headlines that would be generated by Callas’ debut on American television, and booked Callas to appear on the show.

Maguire recounts some of the behind-the-scenes tension; Callas, a diva to the last, refused to do Tosca, preferring to save it for the paying customers at the Met. Sullivan, in turn, threatened to boot her off the show if she didn’t fulfill her half of the bargain. The result, of course, was this performance, from November 25, 1956. The first person you’ll see is Rudolf Bing, the general manager of the Metropolitan, followed by scenes from Act II of Tosca, featuring the Canadian bass-baritone George London as the villainous Count Scarpia. The orchestra is under the baton of Dimitri Mitropoulos.

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In 1956, opera and theater were not uncommon on television. Aside from an occasional appearnce on PBS, where are the outlets for such programming today? 

Cross-posted at It's About TV!

What's wrong with this sentence?


Rousey’s longtime friend and fellow MMA fighter-turned-wrestling-queen Shayna Baszler (now a WWE performer as well, wrestling in NXT) was getting set to headline against Heidi Lovelace at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School."

Am I the only one who thinks this reads like a scenario from one of Christopher Buckley's satiric novels?



AN UNFILTERED SHOT OF DARKNESS ENVELOPING THE FARMERS INSURANCE OPENThe LaRoche and Beyond Era began 16 years ago this coming Saturday when I walked into the School of Music practice hall room 012 to begin my first formal voice lesson, changed the way I saw music, with classical becoming a genre I appreciate most now where I attend Philharmonic concerts and have met von Stade (2011) and Fleming (2017, twice) and attending operas.That appreciation has allowed me to ignore pop music as a whole, and the Grammys, because of the excessive junk being sold to both the church and to the general public.  The excessive attacks on the President elected by more than two-thirds of states by the few cities that want a rule of elite cities over all this year continued a long tradition of leftist propaganda based on their feelings.  One I remember too well was one group sang their sexual perversion propaganda hit while a marriage ceremony that flashed back to those of a cult minister referenced in the 1980 pop hit "Oh Buddha," with some couples of the same gender in violation of California's own Constitution (the event was held in California) that a Kamala the Bay Area Giant felt must be erased against the will of the people, repeating the tactics of King George III that led to the Declaration of Independence, as part of promoting the perversion agenda by singing their song pushing it.But this year, I had finally seen something from those awards shows that infuriated me, and considering the 50th anniversary of a famous event in television, CBS was guilty.The Farmers Insurance Open had been given the "Heidi" treatment.Imagine turning on the television Sunday night, and seeing Jim Nantz, a longtime CBS stalwart, and the broadcast bug had the NBC Peacock on the bottom right corner and not the CBS Eye with "PGA TOUR" next to it.  Nantz was covering on NBC Sports the conclusion of the Farmers Insurance Open, as CBS had decided to give the first PGA Tour event on network television for the season the shaft.  It was on an NBC Sports cable channel, but the graphics were CBS, down to the CBS Sports banner on the 18th tower at Torrey Pines.  The three-man sudden death tournament aired for roughly two hours on the NBC Sports Group, with one player eliminated first, but for five holes, there was no winner.(The tournament concluded Monday morning again on the NBC channel, with Nantz, Sir Nick Faldo, and Peter Kostis, carrying CBS flags, not NBC flags, though the broadcast bug said "LIVE PLAYOFF" with the Peacock logo.)Both the paying spectators and CBS affiliates were given the Heidi Game treatment.  The conclusion of the Farmers Open was aired on an NBC Sports Group station Monday morning at 8 AM PT, and the spectators who had tickets had no refunds, and were not admitted to the conclusion of the final round.The Grammys gave the tournament once known as the Andy Williams the "Heidi" treatment.  Oh the sad irony.[...]

Opera Wednesday


(image) Carmen is my second-favorite Bizet opera, after Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers). Of course, Bizet only wrote two operas, and most people think of Carmen when they think of him. No wonder why; when done well, it's one of the most dynamic, explosive operas in the repertoire, with some of the most famous music in opera.

In today's clip, we see Elina Garancia as Carmen, performing the opening act aria "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" in a 2010 performance at the Metropolitan Opera. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the principal conductor-designate at the Met (not one of my favorite conductors, but then they didn't ask me) is at the podium.

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Is Netflix falling into the ESPN model?


The criticism of ESPN is it pays excessive amounts for content, and has the highest per-subscriber rate for a non-premium television channel ($7.50).  That has led to its decline in pay-television, as people switch to streaming services which are lower in rates but offer primarily X-rated television.  However, a recent report regarding Netflix's 2018 plans should raise an alarm.  Will they fall into the same trap as ESPN, but worse?ESPN, for example, pays $1.9 billion for NFL rights that is split among its ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ABC (primary market affiliates only; under an NFL policy, ABC airs the first round and Pro Bowl game in order to alleviate a problem that could have happened during ESPN's first-ever playoff coverage where a market that did not receive a Monday Night game during the season could be playing in the first-round playoff game ESPN airs since it would be impossible for a syndication package to be prepared six days in advance, and ABC affiliates that accept the first option would have to change programming within the same time frame, so the NFL made the mandate that ABC airs the Pro Bowl and ESPN Playoff game), then spends much on the NBA ($1.73B), MLB ($800M), College Football Playoff ($470M including part ownership).  (Other events do not have hefty rights fees.)The Big Three of CBS, NBC, and Fox pay no more than $1.23 billion each for their NFL packages, and other sports packages are not even close to a billion dollars in rights fees.Meanwhile, Netflix, one of television's New Big Four, has declared they intend to spend $8 billion for original programming, plus marketing.  Amazon intends to spend at least $4.5 billion (and probably more in 2018) on original programming, most of which is X-rated.Consider Netflix's plan for $8 billion even surpasses ESPN's $7.3 billion, NBC at $4.3 billion, CBS at $4 billion, among others.  When Amazon and Netflix are now spending more on original scripted series, while NBC and CBS budgets include the billion-dollar NFL rights fees, the question will come for business analysis.  Will Netflix fall into the same trap as ESPN where they overspend to the point they have to drastically increase the price of their service?  I see Netflix and Amazon Prime both being over $50 per month in the next few years and maybe $100 per month within a decade if their spending habits for X-rated programming continue to grow (it was $6 billion a year ago, now $8 billion, you wonder if $10 billion is coming next).  Unlike ESPN's budget that is limited by a per-subscriber fee and civic governments' right to restrict subscription television prices, the New Big Four need not worry.  And this big budget will likely grow while the broadcast networks need not worry about the cost of NFL programming into the 2022-23 season since the networks' deals are set until Super Bowl LVII.While Netflix is praised by the content, we must wonder if the continuing push to anti-life shows, especially in this month where we mourn the 60 million killed via Roe and millions other dying in euthanasia pushed by others, and other raunchy regietheater by the New Big Four is coming to a critical mass when the rights fees result in massive cost hikes.  Many have canned regular television over ESPN.  Will they do the same to the New Big Four when they overspend and decide to charge more?  Those with a Biblical worldview, along with parents, should be alarmed.  The New Big Four's spending habits will lead to a crash very soon.[...]

Opera Wednesday


(image) Jacques Offenbach's opera Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffman) has about as many different ways it can be performed as there are opera companies to perform it. Offenbach died before the opera was completed, with the result that the second and third acts, for example, are often performed in reverse order; the second act, which was fully completed, has a spectacular ending that seems much more appropriate to end the opera itself, and back in the day it often was performed as the third and final act. (It also makes better dramatic sense, but that's another story.) There's a prologue and an epilogue, and these are often edited or combined with other scenes. Sometimes one soprano plays Hoffman's muse; sometimes, it's three. Likewise for the villain of the piece.

One thing everyone can agree on, however, is the charm of the Act One scene featuring Olympia, with whom Hoffman falls in love - not knowing that she is in reality a robot! Here's her famous dance/aria, performed by Luciana Serra in a 1981 production at the Royal Opera House; the conductor is Georges Prêtre.

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Wish I'd written that


or myself, I feel a profound cleavage between my own generation and that of young adults today: I do not understand, and do not really like, their tastes, their ambitions, their enjoyments, their sorrows, their opinions, or even their humor. But then I could say that of my own generation also: I never really belonged to it, or wanted to belong to it. I have always been a fish out of water, ever since I can remember."

- Theodore Dalrymple, from this article.

Opera Wednesday


(image) Miss America's been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, but here's one of the right reasons: Susan Powell, Miss America 1981, performing "Lucy's Aria" from Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera The Telephone.  It's from September 6, 1980; the host is Ron Ely.

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Remembering Dan


PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHICWe've made reference to one California racer who died of pneumonia over the weekend at 86.  But how good was Dan Gurney in the marketing world?In 1964, Gurney was part of this commercial, which included the fact he had won the first of what we call the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Riverside, California a year prior, for the legendary Wood Brothers of Stuart, Virginia, a team that is still owned by the family, though they are now a satellite team to Penske. allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">In 1970, he was part of Chrysler's SCCA Trans-Am efforts: allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">In the 1980's, Dan ran the Toyota sports car efforts, and ran both the Over 2500cc and Prototype car efforts under the All American Racers platform.  Toyota did a few ads with him, his wife, and one son. allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">And a few current owners of Dan's great racers take their laps on contemporary tracks:Toyota GTP: allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">1972 USAC MCT Offenhauser: allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">And the historic car at a historic track: 1967 EagleF1 Spa winner at Goodwood: allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Mitchell's Note: Let's not forget when Dan was the Car and Driver candidate for President![...]

Rosie Ruiz redux


"And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." -- 2 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

Other Bible paraphrases (as I've learned they are, especially the two HarperCollins versions) use a runner's analogy.  For those of us who have crossed a finish line after 42,195 metres of running (and even walking when our running legs give up), being honest and making a legal path across the course is mandatory, crossing all timing mats, before you reach 42,195 metres and finish.  I learned the hard way in an October half marathon when being tardy and not knowing the changed course resulted in an instant disqualification that I was not informed until hours after I crossed the finish line that my time had been nullified.  (For reference, the infraction involved the baseball stadium as I made a wrong turn at the start, being late because of poor logistics.  I did not make the loop properly and a timing official disqualified me as soon as I made the incorrect entrance, my second DQ in a half marathon.)  Those who follow the rules are the ones who earned their right as a marathoner.  There are others who have decided the "Rosie Ruiz" fraud in Hopkinton 1980 is worth it.  They are the absurd ones such as the one in St. Louis where one runner was caught doing a Ruiz twice in different years, both on the podium and both disqualified.

Now this report came in Arizona regarding the latest type of cheating runner.  Around Christmastide, Arizona's Camelback Ranch holds the Across the Years race of four distances, either 24, 48, 72, or 144 hours (one, two, three, or six days).  The race course is a simple 1.0498 mile out and back, and the object is to make as many laps as possible in the amount of time listed, they can walk, stop, eat, sleep, leave the course , but the clock continues to run.  One fraud runner pulled off the latest Ruiz-type maneuver by running across the finish line, then resting in a restroom, watching the clock, and when he returns to the pace he would normally run, he loops back round the restrooms, then crosses the line, and skipped an entire 1.0498 mile loop while registering another lap.  That was cheating, and he was later found to have made this ruse numerous times.  When discovered, the organisers disqualified the runner from numerous past races.  It is unknown if the real winners will have their winning ceremonies recast, as was the case 25 years after the Ruiz incident.

Oh what a tangled web of deceit in running!

Opera Wednesday


(image) Here's the wonderful Renée Fleming singing "Ain't it a pretty night" in a concert performance from Carlisle Floyd's 1955 opera Susannah, one of the few 20th Century operas to enter a secure place in the opera reportrie.

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Wish I'd written that


The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight."

- Hilaire Belloc

Wish I'd written that


I wish I'd been born in Obscurity. Every famous person gets plucked from there.

- Carlos Lozada

Oh, my! Non-sport memories of Dick Enberg


The sad news from Boston that Nicole Vaz told the AP her father, Dick Enberg, died while packing his bags for a family vacation to the area lastweek was another sign of how our legendary figures of our youth are dying.

Mr. Enberg, 82, and wife Barbara were headed to Boston and the wife arrived, only to learn he never made it out of his La Jolla home, waiting to be transported to the airport.

But as much as we know him from sport, he did television game shows, none of which lasted but a year or two.  We found a few clips from game shows he hosted as a tribute to Enberg the quizmaster – something that started as a gofer at a radio station in college never expected we'd see, let alone a distinguished broadcasting career.

Three For the Money

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Perfect Match

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St. Stephen, the First Martyr


THE STONING OF ST. STEPHEN BY REMBRANDTThis second day of Christmas is called St. Stephen Day, and whom do we celebrate on this day?  He was the first martyr of Christianity, as seen in Acts 6-7.  (Because of copyright restrictions, we are posting only a Public Domain version of the Bible.  There are other versions out there, but we cannot post them without hitting copyright infringement issues.)Acts 61 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.Chapter 71 Then said the high priest, Are these things so?2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve [...]

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 25: Merry Christmas!


And here we are! From everyone at In Other Words to all of you, our wishes for a very Merry Christmas!

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 23: Get used to it


I don't know about you, but this isn't exactly my idea of what I want to see under the tree on Christmas morning. As I said in the title, though, get used to it: as soon as Christmas is over, you'll see nothing but weight-loss commercials on TV. I can't wait!

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 22: Here's to you!


I don't drink egg nog myself, but if I did, it would have to be Sealtest. After all, if it passes the Santa test, it has to be good!

Christmas Grinches: What does not fit for the season


It caught my attention last night at church during the candlelight service in the middle of the Third Week of Advent (the fourth week is Christmas week itself, so it clashes with the first half of Christmastide), they want Christmas Eve to mimic the big self-help centres with one loud daytime rock concert instead of Bible reading.  A music ministry official permitted a vocalist at church to sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" with karaoke accompaniment.  Karaoke it is well known I have a problem, but one listen of it and I was having to escape because it was highly inappropriate for me to accept that song in church, especially if you've seen Fleming, von Stade, and others, participated in a Singalong Messiah where the seating organisers forgot instructions that I thought I was driving Kyle Larson's sprint car and could not find the cushion as I could not find fellow tenors in the tenor section to ensure proper matching just two days ago, and have been able to discern what is and not appropriate for church.  How inappropriate was it for that song to be sung for a Christmas service, especially when "Hallelujah" means Händel's No. 44 from Messiah, and even then, that's an Easter song, not a Christmas song.  (The final Christmas section from the piece is "His Yoke is Easy", No. 21.)The acceptance of that song for Christmas has puzzled me, considering during a Christmas party for the CrossFit box I visit weekly (sometimes twice a week), they did not accept the more Christmas themes from "Not That Far from Bethlehem," Schubert's "Ave Maria," "The Season of Love" (which my old Townhall and 74157 Club member who writes the Jenny's American Slice blog appreciates), but they accepted every winter song and numerous awful versions of a Mariah Carey song that I just don't see being Christmas-like.  Why has it every Top 40 hit can be accepted for Christmas, but the platinum standards of Schubert, Franck, Bach, and Händel are not accepted in the public square, but now not even accepted in churches today?These incidents forced me to read again an Amy Spreeman commentary about one popular group and their promotion of sin, yet too many accept their arrangement of Christmas songs.And two cases of nativity scenes with perversion support led to two opposites, as a Rhode Island bishop objected to a nativity scene in California that was perverted with Baby Jesus and two Josephs, no Mary (that wouldn't be welcome at Hobby Lobby) . . .. . . meanwhile, Pope Francis selling out to perversion activists again with a scene in The Vatican that is suggestive and associated with activists in Italy.  Does he remember October 31, 1517?The progressive push to make Grinches on Christmas continue to rise.  And just notice that when the Christ Child is forgotten everywhere.[...]

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 21: The Price is right


This isn't as ridiculous as it looks; Vincent Price was a world-renouned art connoisseur who not only chose works of art to be sold by Sears, he also trained the employees in how to sell it. If your ornaments have been selected by Vincent Price, they're sure to be in good taste.