Thursday, September 14, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 330

Thursday, September 14, 2006---751 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 27 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
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Rave: Robert Ryan.
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Currently reading: “Protocol for a Kidnapping” by Ross Thomas. (1971)
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On the Victrola: Coral Gables High Class of ‘56/Mellow 50’s Memories, a Chuck Thagard collection.
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Rave: The Nike TV spot featuring U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova and the “I Feel Pretty” soundtrack is just spectacular. Extremely creative advertising!
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More US Open: The 1984 US Open semi-finals between John McEnroe and Pat Cash was the last time wooden rackets were used by both contestants in a major professional tournament.
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Rave: In the preface to Tom Callahan’s, “Johnny U---The Life and Times of John Unitas,” Unitas and Sonny Jurgensen are reminiscing about the NFL of the 1950’s and 1960’s. “I think you almost had to know all of us to know any of us,” was Johnny’s summation of those who played the game in those glory years.
And, that is how Mr. Callahan spools out this superb biography…with stories told by team mates from high school, college and the pros; coaches he played for and against; opponents who could not help but admire him; football front office types; sports writers, friends and family.
As with many who are emblematic of a time, place, and culture, the total (book) is greater than the sum of its parts.
In those days the game belonged to the players---the quarterbacks called the plays and truly were field generals. They did not need a consortium of coaches acting as consultants to tell them what to do.
Back then, the game had both character and characters (face it, not even Hollywood could make up an Alex Hawkins or Joe Nameth).
Mr. Callahan brings these wonderful characters to life utilizing their convergence with Johnny U as the palette to paint the story of #19.
How many stories elicited an out loud “wow!” from me I cannot count. There are stories that made me laugh so long my side hurt. There are stories that brought a grin, stories that put a lump in my throat and those that brought tears (often, those ironic tears of joy).
Throughout the book, I could see the twinkle in Johnny U’s eyes that he was so famous for…that is how expressively the book is written.
In fact, it reads like a novel, flowing from story to story at a comfortable pace…with the occasional two-minute-drill acceleration.
Not only was Unitas a great quarterback and teammate, he was a steadfast friend, devoted father and reliable husband. His influence on football, Baltimore and those around him is immeasurable.
As the narrative says, when Johnny U died, big Jim Parker cried and said, “It was the first time that I wasn’t there to protect him.”
“ ‘When she (his wife) told me John was dead, I couldn’t say anything. I just sat down,’ said Gino Marchetti. He’d have cried if he wasn’t Gino Marchetti.”
I am grateful that Tom Callahan gave me a chance to remember those times I can never forget.
Moreover, you do not have to be a refugee from the “Diner Guys” era to appreciate this one. It stands on its own as a paean to a legend in black high tops.
Read this book!
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Problem solved: Katie could end her newscast with: “I’m not really a journalist. I just play one on TV.”
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Lastly: Enough of this Katie Couric nonsense. She reads the news. She doesn't make the news. She doesn't analyze the news. She doesn't comment on it. She reads it. This is a major cultural event? Wow.
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Sorry, can’t resist another shot: From all the clips I have seen on the cable networks and photos, it appears that Katie Couric and Tammy Faye Bakker share the same eye make-up person.
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Rave: In thirteen seasons with the Baltimore Colts, Raymond Berry caught 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns---and fumbled exactly one time. Pretty amazing!
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Rave: Twelve players and three coaches from 1958 NFL Championship Game (Colts 23-Giants 17 in the first overtime) have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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Pop quiz: Quickly now---name fifteen players from last year’s Super Bowl.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

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