Leap of Dave Summer Reading Program

Leap of Dave Summer Reading Program
Summer Reading Program: May 29th Through September 5th

A QUOTE TO START THINGS OFF WITH

I see a young boy Saying He's going to run away. Deep inside, It's already happened. Ronny Dibbern (Grade 8) From Ten-Second Rainshowers: Poems by young people. Compiled by Sanford Lynne

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Taking 2020 from 1677 and Staying Positive.

 Penultimate is one of my favorite words.  It means second to last.  I use the word so often it drives my family a little crazy.  So, when I woke up this morning on the day before New Years Eve, 2020, penultimate popped into my head pretty quickly.

I turned to the Merriam Webster website for the last word on penultimate. It seems the word was first used in  print all the way back in 1677.  Thanks to the time traveler feature at the MW site, I discovered many words that came into print in 1677 still had special significance in 2020.  To illustrate I will jot a few words about 2020 as it draws nigh and embolden  the words from 1677. I have also put links on each word to their definition as some of these 1677 words were new to me. 

I always like to be veracious so as I look back at the year 2020  I must say that after some introspection I am somewhat glad that this is the penultimate day of a year that was  as oppressive as it was implausible; as riveting as it was slatternly

I don't like to sound huffy, but it upset me when  I found out this March that both my jobs were inessential. I would turn on the television to watch the splutter of unsustainable overpromise. Never-mind the tug-of-war between the ballot box and the electoral college that tried to make  the courtroom function as a middleman

I'm sure that years from now when we unpack a yearbook from a duffel ,2020 will still be considered a difficult year; with some exertion and by being intentional we were able to configure a new normal. I'm sorry I hope you didn't doze off while I went on like someone giving a keynote at a quarterly meeting.


 

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Remembering Dick Allen

 Dick Allen died earlier this month on December 7,2020 at the age of 78. Allen was the NL rookie of the year for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964, the year I was born. He played for the White Sox form 1972 to 1974 and was a big part of the reason why I switched allegiances from the Chicago Cubs to their south side counterpart  White Sox. 

It transpired something like this.  My sister was the grade ahead of me at school and achieved straight A's at school one year.  Our school had a promotion with the White Sox that if you had straight A's or perfect attendance you would receive 2 vouchers for tickets to a White Sox game.  My Dad took my sister to a game and I decided that the next year I would get perfect attendance and he could take me

Sure enough, the next year I had perfect attendance for the first and only time in my academic life. My Dad took me to a game in 1972 or out the roof shots and it was1973 against the Baltimore Orioles.  He taught me how to keep score and Dick Allen hit a home run.  

From that day on I was a White Sox fan. I watched games on T.V. and listened to the rest on the radio.  I even became a country music fan as the White Sox games were broadcast on the local country station.  The rest of the family remained Cubs fans (I still like the Cubs because no one told me other wise, ) but my exuberance was for the White Sox.  Each year our family took a pilgrimage to Wrigley to watch a game.   Each year my Dad found away usually near my birthday to take me to a White Sox game as well.

I liked all the players, Bucky Dent. Wilbur Wood, Jorge Orta, Bill Melton but Allen was by far my favorite. Over the years the players changed but my passion for the White Sox never ebbed. I have had many favorite White Sox players over the years Kessinger, Fisk, Thomas, Buehrle, and Konerko just to name a few,  but those fond memories of watching Allen at first base or at the plate never  did fully dissipate.

Click here to watch footage of Allen with commentary from teammate Bill Melton. I also have put some video and audio clips of Allen at my vlog, Dave Out Loud


Allen at the Bat
Allen in the Field

Iconic Sports Illustrated Cover
    

    

Dick Allen: Sights and Sounds

This post is a supplement to a post in my sports blog, Crazy Uncle Dave's Sports Blog. Video about Allen and the 1972 White Sox.

1967 All Star Game: Allen homers for National League



Allen was a front man for a do-wop band in the 60's


Hall of Fame 2020 If I had a vote and used it

 Since the inception of this blog I have always previewed the Baseball HOF voting with a number of posts. Last year was only the second year that I did not do this.  I was just too busy and I thought I had finally given up blogging. As I am back and blogging again I am in  the midst of previewing the 2021 Hall of Fame selection next month.  I thought I would spend a few minutes and say who I would have wanted to vote for on last years ballot if I were afforded one.

Each member of the Base Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) is given up to 10 votes each year. As I do most every year I will pretend I have as many as 10 votes down to as few as 1 vote and state who I think I would have voted for.  I will also mention how many people I think I would have voted for if I could vote for any number from 1 to 10. Again, I say I think because this is an exercise in pure revisionist history as I already know the results of the election.  After saying who I voted for in what position, I will reveal what % of the vote they actually received. Anyone receiving less than 5% will not be on the ballot this year. Anyone who received at least 5% of the vote and less than 75% of the vote who still is within their first 9 years on the ballot will return to the ballot in 2021. Anyone who received more than 75% will become a member of the HOF.

 If I were give 10 votes in  the 2020 election, I think my10th vote would have gone to Andy Pettitte in his 2nd year on the ballot.  I had not voted for Pettitte in his first season on the ballot.  Pettitte received 11.3% of the vote in 2020 which was up from 9.9 % in his inaugural year. 

If only able to vote for 9 people in 2020, I believe my 9th vote would have gone to Andruw Jones in his 3rd year on the ballot.  I had not voted for Jones previously. Jones ended up receiving 19.4 % of the writers votes in 2020 which was up quite a bit form the 7.5% he received in 2019. 

If there was a rule that said I could vote for 8 and  only 8 players on the 2020 ballot, I'm thinking my 8th vote would have been  for Curt Schilling in his 8th year on the ballot. I had not voted for Schilling in previous years. Schilling received 70.0 percent of the vote in 2020 which was up from 60.9% in 2018. 

If I could only vote for 7 people in 2020. I think my 7th vote would have gone to Gary Sheffield in his 6th year of eligibility. In 2019 I would have considered voting for Sheffield if I had been given as many as 12 votes.  Sheffield received 20.6% of the vote in 2020 which was a great increase from the 13.6% he got in 2019.


If I could only vote for 6 players in the 2020 election. I'm pretty certain my 6th vote would have gone to Jeff Kent in his 7th year on the ballot. This would have been 2 places better than I vote for him in 2019/ In 2020 Kent received 27.5 % of the writer's votes which was up from 18.1 % in 2019.

Todd Helton would have been my 5th vote in the 2020 election If I had to vote for exactly 5 people. 2020 was Helton's 2nd year on the ballot.  In his inaugural year on the ballot he was the 7th player I would have chosen. Helton garnered 29.2% of the vote in 2020 which was up from 16.5% in 2019.

If I could vote in the 2020 election for as many players as I thought were worthy to be enshrined in Cooperstown, I think I would have voted for 4 people/  Before I tell you who the 4th person was, I offer the following caveat. Since I did not research the vote last year, I did not allow for voting for any returning player on my official unofficial ballot who was not on the OUB previously. It is my possible that Helton or even Kent may have raised in my estimation if I took the ample time to review their case prior to the 2020 voting. I did not, so they are both on the outside looking in.  

With 4 votes in my pocket the 4th vote would have gone to Larry Walker in his 10th and final year on the ballot.  In 2019 Walker had been my fifth vote in my official unofficial ballot of 6 players. In 2020 the voters saw clearly to elect Walker to the Hall of Fame with 76.6% of the vote up from 54.6% in his penultimate year of eligibility.

If on the 2020 ballot I could only vote for 3 players I am positive that my 3rd vote would go to Omar Vizquel in his 3rd year of eligibility. In 2019 He was also the 3rd on my ballot. Vizquel received 52.6% of the votes up from 42.8% in 2019.

My last 2 votes would have both gone to players in their 1st year of eligibility in 2020.  mu 2nd vote would have gone to Derek Jeter who received 99.7% of the vote and made it to the HOF. My #1 vote would have definitely gone to my guy, Paul Konerko. Unfortunately the voters don't know him like I do and he recieved only 2.5% of the vote, only 1/2 the votes he need for consideration this year.

I will return in a few days for the next installment in the 2021 review.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Stats Sunday

This is the last Sunday of the year and as 2020 ends I've decide to start something new.  From time to time on this blog I will write a post that features statistics in some way.  I was thinking about publishing them on Saturdays and calling it Staturday but I decided instead to call it Stats Sunday. It won't be every Sunday. But when I have a stats based post I will try to publish it on a Sunday.  

The Bears beat Jacksonville today to stay alive in the Playoff picture. gula The game was Mitchell Trubisky's 49th start during the regular season. It was his 29th win in 49 starts for a winning percentage of .592.  This got me to thinking.  



This blog began over 11 years ago on December 12 2009. Since then the Bears have played 177 regular season games. They have won 82 of these games and lost 95 for a winning percentage of .462. During that time, the Bears have started 12 different quarterbacks and only one has a better winning percentage in games they started than Trubisky. This is the forgettable Todd Collins who won his only game as a starter for the Bears but was benched in the 3rd quarter in favor of Caleb Hanie. While Collins illustrates that one's winning percentage as a starter is not always indicative of performance,  when related to a larger body of work than a handful of games there is certainly relevance to be gleaned.

PlayerYear(s) StartedWinsLossesPercentage
Todd Collins2010101.000
Mitchell Trubisky2017-20202920.592
Josh McCown2011.201333.500
Jay Cutler2009-20164446.489
Nick Foles202025.286
Mike Glennon201713.250
Brian Hoyer201614.200
Matt Barkley201615.167
Jason Campbell201201.000
Chase Daniel2018,201902.000
Jimmy Clausen2014,201502.000
Caleb Hanie201104.000


Most Starts:  Jay Cutler (90)
Most Wins: Jay Cutler (44)
Most Losses: Jay Cutler (46)

Jay Cutler doing his Jim from the Office impression.
Best Winning Percentage: Todd Collins 1.000
Best Winning Percentage (5 or more starts) : Mitchell Trubisky .592
Worst Winning Percentage. Caleb Hanie* .000 
Worst Winning Percentage (5 or more starts): Matt Baarkley  .167

* 4 QBs have a .000 winning percentage during this time.  Hanie gets the distinction of worst because he had more starts than any of the other 3.


Statistics are interesting in that they can tell you a lot and tell you nothing at all at the very same time. I'm not sure what kind of meaning can be extrapolated from the above chart, but  it was kind of fun and a more than a little depressing looking back at a decade of Bears starting quarterbacks.

Holy Hill Batman! The work of Christian Prohaska of Mainlight Photo.

 I have known Christian Prohaska for going on 40 years. We went to different high schools but met through a parachurch organization called Campus Life. We spent a lot of time on bicycling trips and other adventures. Christian is a very talented photographer, videographer and also takes video footage using drones. His You Tube channel Mainlight Photo is amazing.  Of his many videos, I decided to share this one about Holy Hill, as cycling up to this site was one of the many adventures we shared together.


 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Lucy's Braces Come Off. Before & After shots.

 


Before

After


Posting this for Wordless Wednesday at Comedy Plus.

Judy Garland Christmas Special (1963)

While researching a post at HSD I came across this Judy Garland Christmas special from December 1963, the year before I was born.   


If you saw the 2019 film Judy starring Renee Zellweger, it may be difficult to watch the Christmas special without remembering Zellweger's Oscar winning tour de force performance of the troubled icon.  

If you haven't seen it, This trailer may whet your appetite for the amazing yet tumultuous biopic.



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Dave Out Loud: New Computer

This is quite Awesome

While I have an Instagram account, I am never on it. The only thongs I ever see from Instagram are what's posted to other platforms such as this really cool reimagining of NBA jerseys that I saw on NBCsports.com


 

My favorite jersey is the Bulls one, of course. It ties in my favorite 2 sports teams (Sorry Bears!) in 2 ways. First they have the same owner (Jerry Reinsdorf) and by using the #23 we are reminded how Michael Jordan played minor league ball in the White Sox organization in the mid 90's. My 2nd favorite is the Bucks and my least favorites were the Heat and the Rockets.  


 

Monday, December 7, 2020

A Lesson From the Box Score

The Year In Sports

Twenty         20

Covid           19


The coach of Twenty was quoted at the press conference.  

"Covid put up quite a fight, but we knew if we worked together as a team we would persevere and prevail in the end."  



Sunday, November 29, 2020

OPV: What's In The Bible: Judges

I have shared this video here before. It was back in April 2016 when I was doing Y is for You Tube as my theme for the A to Z Challenge.

Instead of rehashing my intro from then here, I will just add this.  

My older daughter hates this song.  Because a) many family members use to sing the song excessively and b) many of the same family members sang it even more regularly upon receiving that information.  My part in that fiasco can not be elaborated on any greater than that due to a plea-bargaining agreement.  However, I am not breaking my parole, by sharing it here.  


I just realized that that particular clip cuts the song off after one chorus and leaves out many of my favorite parts.  Since I believe this song is best when listened to multiple times.  I am including the full video here.  But be careful, multiple listening is part of what led to my legal problems.  Can you and your family handle it? You be the judge!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

I Am Depressed | Dianna Paige | TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool

This Fall my daughter Lucy joined the speech club at school. This surprised no-one as she is a natural performer and attends a  performance arts academy at her High School. At the speech club each student chooses one or more events to perform at weekly meets. Lucy is doing Humorous Interpretation. Because of Co-vid all the performances are virtual. 

 Amy and I both volunteered to help judge the events. We had done similar volunteering when Lucy was in speech tournaments in grade school. Again, the judging is virtual. I am extremely impressed with the talent these kids have. One event that I judged at the last tournament was where students perform other peoples speeches. The 6 I judged were all Ted Talks. While I am certain that I could not share these performances on my blog and would not even think to do so, the source material of theses speeches were so compelling that I plan on sharing some of them here.

 I have to say, that with all the other videos, I have shared here over the years I am surprised I never thought to share a Ted Talk before. 

 I am starting with I am Depressed by Diana Page as Mental Illness is a pretty big part of our family and I think this speaker (and the student who performed it in the tournament) both do a great job of bringing a topic many people still feel uncomfortable discussing and making it a safe topic. 

 As Fred Rogers so elegantly put it ... 


“Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” 

I Am Depressed 

By Dianna Page

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

2021 Official Hall of Fame Ballot.

 On Monday November 16, 2020 The Baseball Hall of fame announced the 2021 BBWAA (Base Ball Writer;s Association of America) ballot.


There are 14 players returning to the ballot and 11 players on the ballot for the first time.  Mark Buehrle who pitched most of his career for the White Sox is among the 11.

There are no players on the ballot for their 10th year.  I have all the other players listed alphabetically under what appearance on the ballot this is for them.

9th appearance            8th appearance             7th appearance   

Barry Bonds                   Jeff Kent                        Gary Sheffield

Roger Clemens

Curt Schilling

Sammy Sosa.


6th appearance            5th appearance            4th appearance

Billy Wagner                 Manny Ramirez             Andruw Jones

                                                                             Scott Rolen

                                                                             Omar Vizquel


3rd appearance            2nd appearance            1st appearance

Todd Helton                   Bobby Abreu                  Mark Buehrle 

AndyPettitte                                                           A.J. Burnett

                                                                               Michael Cuddyer

                                                                                Dan Heren

                                                                                LaTroy Hawkins

                                                                                Tim Hudson

                                                                                Torii Hunter

                                                                                 Aramis Ramirez

                                                                                 Nick Swisher

                                                                                 Shane Victorino

                                                                                 Barry Zito

The results of the voting will be announces January 26, 2021.  This  year I did not get around to the analysis for the HOF that I have been providing for over 10 years.  I hope this post shows I plan to remedy my absence for the 2021 ballot.












    






Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Muzak Lessons: Sometimes You're The Windshield

Muzak Lessons; Sometimes You're the Windshield

The premise of this feature is to take music I overhear on the PA system at my grocery store and  try to dispense some wisdom from it.   At my grocery store they tend to play the same songs over and over on a regular basis.  Some songs are on a heavier rotation than other songs.  There are 2 songs that get played twice seemingly every 8 hours shift.  There are other songs like this one that has a lighter rotation.  I hear it about once every week.  





The Bug - Mary Chapin Carpenter 1992

Now before I try to teach some life lessons from this song, I need to set a couple facts straight.

 1) I am not the first blogger to mention this song and wax poetic about it. Patricia J Finley had this to say about the song back in 2015.

2) While the Mary Chapin Carpenter version is the version they play at my grocery store , and the only version I had heard before starting to work on this article (in fact I didn't hear this song at all until I started working at the grocery store this Spring), her version is just a cover.  The song was written by Mark Knopfler and was originally released by Dire Straits.  You can find the lyric in their entirety here.




The Bug - Dire Straits 1991

I like both versions of the song.  The lyrics are a little easier to understand in the Chapin version. Although I think I do prefer the Dire Straits version a little better. 

The key lyrics to either version are found in the chorus ...

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're a fool in love
Sometimes you're the louisville slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're going to lose it all

2020 has seemed more like a bug and ball year than a windshield or Louisville Slugger year .  But the truth as usual  is a little more simple and a little more complex than the lyrics of a song. It's true, life has it's mountains and it's valleys.  It's victories and it's defeats.  

Life sometimes seem like a flip of a coin determines the outcome.  I believe that God is in control of this universe.  God brings us out of difficulties that were beyond our  control and also delivers us from the folly that we authored ourselves.  

In Psalm 40 David  wrote a song of deliverance.  He did not know what a windshield or a Louisville Slugger but he certainly had his troubles (like ours many were self inflicted).  To end this post I am sharing Psalm 40 and put highlighted some of the verses that spoke to me.  

40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.[a]
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance[b]
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!

12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Ben Cross & Jackson Scholz 1984 American Express commercial

There were no olympic games this year. I missed them this summer and became nostalgic about all things olympics. This was compounded when I heard that actor Ben Cross passed away on August 18th of this year.  He was best known for portraying Olympic runner Harold Abrahams in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire.  

I came upon this commercial for American Express that ran during the 1984 Olympic games. It featured Cross and Jackson Scholz. Scholz like Abrahams ran in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, France. 

Keith for 50

Today is my brother Keith's birthday.  He would have turned 50 today. He died in April of 2009 at the age of 38.  Over the years I have written a lot about his life  and death many of those posts can be found by clicking here.


Over the years I have also written about a musician friend of mine Allen Levi.  He also lost a brother and chronicled their story in an excellent memoir called The Last Sweet Mile. I mislaid my copy a few years ago when we moved into our current house.  It is probably in a box in the basement some where.

I found 2 posts I wrote about Keith that I wanted to share.  One was written on 11/11/11 which was a birthday he has been looking forward to as it resonated firmly in his mathematical mind. The other was written a year earlier than that when he would have turned 40.  I will reprint it here as it is also features the aforementioned Allen Levi.


Big 40 minus the birthday boy


My brother Keith would have turned 40 today. He died 18 months ago so he never quite made the milestone. When My Mom turned 40, my Dad put a banner across our garage that read "Jeanne's 40 today. But don't tell anyone!". We lived across from the local library at the time and man people people became aware of the event. When I turned 40, Amy had a surprise party for me and had one of my favorite musicians, Allen Levi, fly in from Alabama and sing at my party. He performed the following song among others...
 

 When Amy turned 40, relatives teamed with me so I could give her 40 rolls of quarters. (Amy loves quarters) Keith died 18 months ago, so he never quite made the milestone. Keith was born on Veteran's day and loved that his birthday was celebrated by many people even though they might not be aware they were doing so. Today as you reflect on the men and women who served our country in the military. Reflect also on the men and women boys and girls who left the party before we had a chance to throw them one.

Meanwhile back in 2020

On occasions like this I really want to say something profound about Keith.  Instead I'll just say this...

There really has never been anyone exactly like him.  .  I find it fitting that Keith's 50th birthday falls on the heels of the death of Alex Trebek.  He loved Jeopardy and even auditioned for the show, easily making it to the 2nd part of the process.   Keith excelled in trivia but there wasn't anything trivial about him. Keith was Bi-polar but his mental illness did not define him.  What defined Keith was a world class mind, a kind and gentle spirit, a quirky and quick sense of humor, a simple but abundant faith, and a love for his family and friends.  

Keith visited me when I was living in Russia, teaching English as a Second Language and working as a Baptist Missionary.  One day Keith and I were on a bus on the way to visit a family I knew.  Keith heard someone speaking Spanish and started talking to them in Spanish.  I didn't realize how much Spanish Keith knew.  He studied it  a little in High School but picked it up mostly working at McDonalds.  The Person Keith was speaking to was a  Brazilian missionary who had only been in the Russia  for about 2 weeks.  He spoke very little Russian no English,  ,some Spanish but mostly Portuguese.   Keith invites him to visit this family with us. We get to the families house they have never met Keith or this guy before. The family consisted of a high school girl that I was tutoring in English, her college aged sister and their mother. Their English ranged between somewhat fluent and none at all. This family loved foreigners and were really interested in getting to know Keith and this Brazilian betters.   The guy from Brazil  would speak in Spanish, Keith would translate it into English and I would try to  translate it into Russian.  Then we would reverse the process.  Keith would get off on these crazy tangents and try to explain an idiom or a pun  and I would have no way to translate it with my limited Russian.  

Everybody had a wonderful time.  When I would see that family or that missionary after that they always commented on how much they enjoyed that evening. This is not surprising.  Keith made life an adventure. When I hear Spanish, I sometimes remember the day Keith turned a bus ride into a party.  He may have left the party early but he certainly made a lasting impression. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Breakfast Serials Chariots of Fire Intro and Day 1

 Breakfast Serials

Chariots of Fire 

Introduction: 

Film: Chariots of Fire 1981


... based on the true story of two athletes in the 1924 OlympicsEric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.

CAST LIST

Clicking on characters in bold yields their Wikipedia page. (names not in bold or either fictional characters, amalgams, or historical characters without a Wikipedia page) I have included the Wikipedia pages for historic information. There are also sections in those pages that clarify the true biography from the depiction in Chariots of Fire.  One example of this is the character Sybil Gordon. Sybil Gordon was an opera singer of that time and the film portrays Gordon as being the fiance of Harold Abrahams. However, Abrahams was never engaged to Sybil Gordon. He was engaged and then married another opera singing Sybil, Sybil Evers; they did not meet until 10 years after the 1924 Olympics. Talk about a Sybil dispute. 

 Clicking on actor/actress yields their IMDB page.  In the 40 years since Chariots of Fire came out, several of these actors have passed away, which makes sense. Two of these actors have died this Summer,  I have asterisked the 2 who passed this summer and placed links to their obituaries at the end of the cast list.


Character                           (Actor) 
Eric Liddell                      (Ian Charleson)
Harold Abrahams           (Ben Cross*)
Sam Mussabini                (Ian Holm*)
Lord Andrew Lindsay       (Nigel Havers)
Sybil Gordon                   (Alice Krige)
Jennie Liddell                   (Cheryl Campbell)
Master of Trinity              (John Gielgud)
Sandy McGrath                (Struan Rodger)
Charles Paddock             (Dennis Christopher)      
Jackson Scholz                (Brad Davis)


Nominated for 7 Academy Awards and 10 British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA)

Won 4 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Screen Play, Best Costume Design, & Best Original Score)  & 3 BAFTAs (Best Film, Best Editing and Best Costume Design)


Day 1 

Note : I had to choose how  I wanted to chronicle these  15-minute segments.  There is the wiki approach: a blow by blow  scene by scene reenactment.  I could do that, probably without even watching the film again. I've seen it that many times.  There is what I call the Making of the Making of Titanic* approach.  This is where  I dredge up every anecdote I can find about the characters , the historical authenticity of the film, information about the actors, even the birth weight of anyone who ever watched the movie. Instead, I offer the HSD approach.  I try to give information that whets your appetite for watching or re-watching the film,  I make some, what I hope to be, humorous side comments while not spoiling the movie or majoring in minutia. 
 
* A reference to a Mad About You Episode. Ellen DeGeneres appeared in that episode as a caterer. When Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser appeared on Ellen's show to promote the reboot of Mad About You, Ellen stated she had forgotten all about being on the show.  Perhaps that was Helen who had forgotten that Ellen had been on the show. Either way, this entry is certainly an example of the making of the making of Titanic approach. 




Segment 1 is approximately 1sixteen minute and 40 seconds  as the ending scene dissolves into the beginning  scene of segment 2 mid narration.

The movie begins at a funeral in 1978. Lord Andrew Lindsay, a composite character, portrayed expertly by Nigel Havers is giving the eulogy and says:

Let us praise famous men and our fathers that begat us. All these men were honoured in their generations and were a glory in their days. We are here today to give thanks for the life of Harold Abrahams. To honour the legend. Now there are just two of us - young Aubrey Montague and myself - who can close our eyes and remember those few young men with hope in our hearts and wings on our heels.

During this speech, we can see into the audience at the funeral and see that "young" Avery Montague is now ancient, as is Lord Lindsay himself.  We are then transported back in time to (June 1924)  and place as we watch one of the most visually, emotionally and musically brilliant opening credit scenes I have ever experienced. Our eyes see the British Olympic track team running on a beach. Their white shirts in stark contrast to the overcast, gloomy yet somehow inspirational panorama. Our ears hear the Academy Awarding winning Vangelis main title theme for the first time.  In order our attention is focussed on  on 4 runners: A young Avery Montague, who looks earnest, dedicated and still somewhat puzzled.  This first impression informs the character of the part-time narrator to a tee. After Montague we get out first glimpse at young Lord Lindsay.  His few seconds of screen time reveal his character accurately as well,  a vibrancy, zeal and seemingly limitless passion for life. The last 2 runners are the stars of this drama,  Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams.  

The scene ends and we watch and  listen as Avery Montague composes a letter to his mother a week before e the 1924 Summer Olympic Games.  He writes and  we are transformed back in time once again to 1919 Cambridge, where he is meeting Harold Abrahams for the first time at a railway station as they make their way to campus.  

If this was the kind of post where I mentioned historical inaccuracies, I would mention now that Montague, while on the 1924 Olympic team with Abrahams, did not attend Cambridge with Abrahams. In fact, he did not attend Cambridge at all.  So, several scenes in this movie featuring Abrahams and Montague together did not occur, or at least did not occur with Montague.  Aren't you glad that this isn't that kind of post? 

As Avery and Harold make their way to campus, we learn that they both run, Avery hate's losing and Harold's never lost. Next is   a  scene that reinforces a line in Montague's letter to his mother.

 "Mind you, Harold has hardly changed at all, as intense as ever. Now as then having a go at anyone who gets in his way." 

The first person who gets in his way is the head porter at his lodgings at Cambridge.  Abrahams endures the porters impertinent and condescending manner, but once Harold signed in he rattles off this gem of a line.  

"I ceased being called laddie when I took up the King's commission. Is that clear?". 

As the Porter regains his footing and signs in Montague, we get our first glimpseof the anti-semitism that Harold combats through his running.  The porter says thatwith a name like Abrahams we can be sure he won't be in the church choir.

We then see the vestiges of campus life at the beginning of a new term. A Freshman dinner  a new student fair , a variety of extra curricular acrivities like Gilbert and Sullivan societies (The music of Gilbert and Sullivan acts as a 2nd soundtrack for the Cambridge part of the film), and an old campus tradition, the college dash.  

Instead of chronicling the dash scene, I will say it is one of the first of many exquisitely choreographed and filmed running sequences.   There is a dancelike quality to the running scenes.  

It is important to note that the dash sequence introduces us to 3 important characters.  First there is the 1919 incarnation of Lord Lindsay. He  runs  in the dash along with Abrahams. The sequence also introduces us  to two stodgy college officials who serve as the  Statler and Waldorf (the two old hecklers from the Muppets) chorus of the film.  These characters  demonstrate the systematic anti-Semitism of the era. As the race ends we are transformed from academic England to the Highlands of Scotland where we will begin the next installment of Breakfast Serials.  













Thursday, August 20, 2020

Breakfast Serials - Morning Movies 15 minutes at a time

I'm pretty busy these days. Working hard, spending time with family, doing lots of reading,. blogging, and a little bit of everything else. A number of years ago before I was married. I got into the habit of watching about 15 minutes of a movie each day on videocassette and would finish it up in 6 to 10 days. I still do that sometimes on streaming services. I decided to do this with one of my favorite movies and then write a blog post about each segment. Alas, the posts will take longer to write than the segments will take to watch. I am going to watch Chariots of Fire and will be back next time with part I.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Starting a good book

 I have read some exceptional books during my summer reading program thus far.    I will say this; many of the books I've enjoyed most this summer have been great from the first chapter, sometimes the first page and even the first sentence.  I am only about 10 pages into a new book and I am convinced it will be a wonderful experience.  The book is Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  Let me tell you why after only 10 pages I think it will be very good.

The first few reasons I had even before I started reading. One is I am familiar with the author's work.  I just finished listening to Anne of Green Gables, which I enjoyed immensely.  I have seen many t.v. and film versions of the Anne books and saw the musical version in Prince Edward Island a few years back.  

This leads me to another reason I think I will enjoy Emily of New Moon because I've been to Prince Edward Island where the story takes place.  I found that I have enjoyed the works of LM Montgomery more since my trip to PEI because it is easier for me to picture life on this island because of my experiences there.  

The third reason I thought I'd enjoy this book before I read it, is the reason I ordered the book from my library in the first place. I had read that Lucy Maud Montgomery had based Emily on her own experiences of growing up in Prince Edward Island.  I like fictional books based on authors' actual experiences.

I like how the cover of New Moon is evocative of Green Gables but seems to be setting a different tone for the book.






The first few pages of this book also have given me reasons to think I have happened upon a real masterpiece.  The first sentence drew me in and I related to it immediately. The chapter is entitled the House in the Hollow and begins  ...

The house in the hollow was "a mile from anywhere"- so Maywood people said.  

I really liked  this turn of  phrase; a mile from anywhere. It reminded me of how I used to say that I have lived in several Chicago suburbs that few had ever heard of but they were familiar with our neighbors.  I grew up in Elk Grove Village, and people were more familiar with Des Plaines, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg.  After I married Amy we lived in an apartment in Hickory Hills where I regularly had to tell people we were next to Oak Lawn and Bridgeview.  Our first house was in Carpentersville where Algonquin, East and West Dundee, and Elgin are better known outside of the area.  Now that we have moved to Elgin, I no longer need to give sister cities. So, from the first sentence I connected my experience to that of the novel.

I am a big fan of symmetry and also enjoy foreshadowing when it isn't obtrusive. In the 4th paragraph of the book Montgomery starts one and nails the other quite elegantly: "She remembered that walk very vividly all her life ... - more likely because of what happened after she came back from it." The symmetry comes into completion with a big reveal that's blurted out quite unexpectedly in the final sentence of the chapter. 

One of the things I liked instantly about the titular character of Anne of Green Gables is how she names things. For example calling people who understand her fully, kindred spirits, and changing the names of place names to better place names (ex. the Lake of Shining Waters). Emily does the same thing immediately with something called "the flash." I also like the pacing of the story, "the flash" is alluded to 3 times in the first page and not explained until page 7 but feels just right when it is explained.  In my own writing, I often struggle with the desire to "explain" things too quickly.  

Another enjoyable aspect of the first ten pages (about a chapter and a third) is that the second chapter takes place immediately after the first ends.  In fact chapter one stops with the reveal I mentioned, and chapter 2 begins in the same conversation. That may seem like an abrupt break chronologically, but ending the chapter on the reveal is an excellent choice.

I love quotations. I even have a space on the header of this blog for quotations I really enjoy.  If you are reading this on the computer version of this blog, you can look up and see the following quote (although you don't have to, as it follows the elipses) ... Aunt Nancy had once said to her 'The first time your husband calls you "Mother" the romance of life is over'.

I love this quote for multiple reasons: a) it's an excellent quote.  b) the quote itself is the narrator quoting Emily's father quoting Emily's mother attributing the quote to Emily's Aunt Nancy.  And as clumsily as I described, the quote is as breezily as Montgomery put it. c) the quote is a story of how Emily's father wanted to name her Juliet after Emily's mother.  The fact that he heeded his wife's advice, and they named her Emily, made me think that the romance between them was never over.  d) I related the naming story to my own experience. Before I got married, I had always wanted to name a son David, as this is not only my name but my Father's as well.  Amy, who knew me when I would stay at my parent's house between school years and other situations, saw firsthand what it was like with two Davids in one house and that name was off the table before we even married.  

I know I have mentioned twice already how I connected with the text on a personal level in the first ten pages of the book.  Some might say that's more about me than the author, but I say that good writing is written in a way that the reader can make connections to it.  Making connections to it early helped me feel great about the prospect of reading the rest.

The last thing I want to share about the way this book begins is another example of the delicious way Montgomery turns a phrase. Emily's dad is telling Emily about her mom and utters one of the best sentences I have ever read:

When she fell in love with me, a poor young journalist, with nothing in the world but his pen and his ambition, there was a family earthquake.

I mean that's more of a sentence I expect to hear from John Boy Walton. the boy poet of Virginia!

I can't believe how amazing this book has started! What I really can't believe is that I stopped reading it long enough to write this post.  If you'll excuse me, I'll go remedy that situation.


Labels before 2022