Happy Fourth of July, everyone (one day late). Hope you all had a safe and happy day with family and friends. Our day ran late yesterday, so we were sorry to have missed out on seeing a Holiday Tradition - watching A Capitol Fourth from Washington DC on PBS. I saw today that the featured performer was Barry Manilow. Didn't feel quite so bad then. Actually, I wouldn't have minded listening to Manilow perform. He's just hard to watch these days after all that bad plastic surgery.
There was another Fourth Tradition that we did not miss - the Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island. In case you missed it, eight time defending champion Joey Chestnut was upset by young Matthew Stonie, 62 dogs to 60. The King is dead; long live the King.
I saw in the paper that both Chestnut and Stonie are from San Jose, CA. What, if anything, to made of that?
After years of resistance, Marilyn and I finally succumbed to inevitable progress and purchased smart phones last month. I swore up and down that I would never become one of "those" people, but since getting the gadget, I confess to having done the following:
- Taken selfies on the golf course
- Taken a picture of a pizza I was eating for lunch and posting it on Facebook
- Having my cute ringtone ("My Girl" by the Temptations) go off during a meeting I was having with some executives at Highmark
- "Checked In" while eating at a restaurant
- Texting. Lots of texting. Including pictures.
- Probably several other things that I said I would never do, but can't think of at the moment.
I will admit, however, that while I could live without it, it is a nice thing to have.
I have often written about one of my favorite authors, Max Allan Collins. The last time I did, I gave a less than favorable review of the last book of his that had read. Well, in checking out Collins' website (www.maxallancollins.com) a few weeks ago, he mentioned and hyperlinked my Grandstander post of the review. I was stunned! I responded to him on his site, and we had an interesting and thoughtful exchange. He mentioned that he pays close attention to less than favorable reviews (unless they are just all out, hate filled hatchet jobs). It was a very interesting experience.
The lesson here is that authors, DO pay attention to what is written. Also, they very much value reviews that readers post on sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and other such sites.
As I am typing this, the Pirates are playing their 81st game (the literal halfway point of the season), and are leading the Indians 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Should the score hold, they will have a record of 47-34, and be either 5 or 6 games behind the first place Cardinals. Seven games will remain before the All-Star Break, including a four game series with the Cardinals next weekend.
There is not a lot to complain about (although plenty of people ARE finding such things). The team has the second best record in the NL and the fourth best in all of MLB. Unfortunately, the team with the best record, the Cardinals, are in the same division. All the more reason that series next weekend looms large.
The pitching has been outstanding. The hitting could be better, and it will be interesting to see what Neal Huntington will do as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. In the past, it has often been pitching that the team has sought, but it seems to me that the acquisition of a hitter, or "a bat' as the current lingo goes, would be the priority.
I will probably reflect more on the first half performance over the Break.
Marilyn and I did something a little different this past Wednesday night. We drove to Latrobe, specifically St. Vincent College, to take in a play at their Summer Theater program. The play was "Tuesdays with Morrie", Mitch Albom's one act play based upon his best selling book of the same title. If you are not familiar with the book, it is about the weekly visits that Albom made to Morrie Schwartz, his college sociology professor who was dying form ALS. Like the book, the play was a very profound and moving experience.
This was my first visit to St. Vincent College since, I am going to say, 1980 or -81, when I visited a Steelers training camp. The campus has changed A LOT in those thirty-plus years, and it is one of the most beautiful ones that you will find anywhere.
A visit to Steelers Training Camp used to be a regular summer trip for my Dad and I, but since those days, it has become a real extravaganza, and I have really never had the desire to fight the crowds and do it again. I did, however, pay proper homage to the Hallowed Ground before entering the St. Vincent Theater:
Memory can be selective, but I can definitely say these practice fields were NOT this nice back in the early 1980's.
Those photos, by the way, were taken with my new smart phone.
I am looking forward to watching the Championship Game tonight of the Women's World Cup.