Monday, February 29, 2016

To Absent Friends - George Kennedy

George Kennedy

Sad news has just come over the news with the report that Academy Award winning actor George Kennedy has died at the age of 91.

A most prolific actor, IMDB lists an incredible 183 acting credits to Kennedy dating back to the 1950's when he was a semi-regular on "The Phil Silvers Show".  There were a number of TV appearances, and at least two series in the 1970's, "Sarge" and "The Blue Knight".  There were a lot of movies, most notably his hilarious roles as straight man to Leslie Neilson in the Naked Gun movies, and that Best Supporting Actor Oscar winning role in "Cool Hand Luke" in 1967.  He even played President Warren harding in a 1979 TV mini-series. And of course, my buddy Tim Baker and I have been having a lot of fun in recent months about Kennedy's over-the-top role of Joe Patroni in "Airport" (1970).

Never the leading man, but a solid character actor who always delivered.  As I often say, you can't make movies without guys like George Kennedy.

RIP George Kennedy.

"Spotlight" - I Believe I Had That....and Other Oscars Thoughts

Your Best Picture of the Year, and as predicted by The Grandstander, "Spotlight".  Terrific movie and a deserving winner, and I am glad that it won.

Indulge me while I boast a bit about my Oscars Predictions.  As seen in this space yesterday, I made predictions in nine categories, and was correct in six of them, including the biggie, Best Picture of the Year.  Doesn't always work out that way, but I had it going for me this year, it seems.  For the record, I missed on Adapted Screenplay, Director, and Supporting Actor.

Some other Oscars observations....
  • The elephant in the room, the #OscarsSoWhite issue, was capably addressed by Chris Rock in his opening monologue.  Then, as often happens in such events, it was beat to death throughout the show.  As NPR's Scott Simon observed on Facebook, as soon as the issue became a comic prop, the message became hopelessly diluted.
  • Chris Rock did what a host has to do....a good opening, then he kept the traffic moving.  His comic bits were okay. I thought that his interviewing movie goers in Compton was pretty funny.  As for the Girl Scout cookie bit, cute, and if they REALLY sold $65,000 with of cookies in that auditorium, then too many people were walking around with too much cash in their pockets.
  • I thought the speeches of the four acting winners were well done.  Classy.
  • For the second year in a row, the single best performance  on stage was turned in by Lady Gaga.
  • Fashion trend - women wearing over sized eyeglasses with very dark frames.  It's not a bad look.
  • Another fashion note - Best dress of the night was that backless number worn by Rachel McAdams.  Gorgeous.
  • Final fashion note.  What was up with Kate Winslett's hair?
  • "Max Max: Fury Road".  Six Oscars.  Really?  As my friend Dan Bonk observed, they could give it a thousand Oscars, and I'm still not going to go see it.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again, they need to ditch the Oscar for Best Original Song.  All it does is eat up a lot of time during the telecast.  In fact, the nominated songs were so mediocre (to be kind), that only three of them were actually performed during the show, thank God.
I will close by saying that two of the best movies that I saw all year, "The Martian" and "Brooklyn" received no love at all from the Academy.  Multiple nominations, zero Oscars. It's to bad, but it happens.  I sometimes like to go back and look at past Oscars Awards for any given year.  It is interesting to see that sometimes movies that win big, become quickly forgotten, while the movies that they beat are still being watched and loved by audiences.  For example, in 1995 and 1997 "Forrest Gump" and "The English Patient" beat out, respectively, "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Fargo".  Of those four movies, which two would you rather watch today?  Twenty years from now, when people look back on the 2015 movie year, I am guessing that they will still want to watch "Spotlight", "The Martian", "Brooklyn", and "Bridge of Spies".  Those same historians may be scratching their heads over "Mad Max" and "The Revenant".  Time will be the ultimate judge of what the Best Movies of 2015 were, and I think that this year, the Academy got it right for the most part.

As for me, I am looking forward to watching my newly purchased Blue-Ray of "Spotlight", perhaps as early as this afternoon.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Academy Awards Predictions, 2016

Tonight is the big night for movie fans, the annual Academy Awards show.  The Awards this year are, of course, shrouded in controversy over the lack of diversity among all of the major nominees in the major categories.  What a year for the Academy to have selected Chris Rock to host the show.  Talk about serendipity!  I, for one, am looking forward to Rock's opening of the show.  It will surely be funny, and it will surely make a lot of people squirm.

But, on with the show, which means The Grandstander's predictions.

Of the eight movies nominated, I will have seen (after catching a matinee showing today of "The Big Short") five of them.  My opinions are just that - opinions - and are not fully informed.  My predictions are based upon those movies that I have seen, what I have read in various media, and how other awards have been handed out during this award season.

Three of the four acting awards are deemed to be pretty much a cinch, so I am not going out on any limb her by predicting that the Oscars for Best Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actress will be handed to Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, and Alicia Vikander.  It should also be noted that I have seen none of these three performances.

A word here about DiCaprio.  I think that he is terrific.  I have never seen him be anything less that excellent in any role that I have seen him play.  And while I didn't not see "The Revenant", everything that I have read or heard about his performance makes this one seem like a movie where the film makers and DiCaprio himself seem to be fairly screaming "Look and how I am acting  in this  movie."  I did see Matt Damon in "The Martian" and he was terrific.  In an understated way, he carried the movie and made it believable.  In his own way, I am sure that Leo did the same thing in "The Revenant", so I won't begrudge him his preordained Oscar tonight, but I am sorry that there will be no love for Matt Damon for what I thought was the best performance that I had seen all year.

The Supporting Actor Oscar race is an interesting one. Mark Ruffalo has been nominated for "Spotlight" and he was great in it (I saw that one!), as was Mark Rylance in "Bridge of Spies."  A lot of critical support seems to be favoring Rylance, and he would be a deserving winner, but the Academy often uses the Supporting Actor/Actress category as a sort of a make-up or lifetime achievement award.  I think that they will do it again this year and award the Oscar to Sylvester Stallone.

For Adapted Screenplay, I will predict that Nick Hornby will win for "Brooklyn".  This will be the Academy's way to honor this terrific movie.  For Original Screenplay, I'll go with Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight".  However, don't be surprised if the Oscar goes to the writers of "Straight Outta Compton".  This could be a way for the Academy to answer all those embarrassing lack of diversity protests.

In an effort to pad my stats, I will predict that "inside Out" will win for Best Animated feature film.

Many are predicting that Alejandro Inarritu will win four "The Revenant", but I am going against the grain on this one since I don't believe that the Academy will go with back-to-back Oscars for Inarritu (he won for "Birdman" last year).  My pick on this one goes for Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight".

That leaves the Big One...Best Picture of the Year.  As I mentioned above, I have seen four of the nominees, "Bridge of Spies", "Brooklyn", "The Martian", and "Spotlight".  I will see "The Big Short" this afternoon.  The other three "Mad Max: Fury Road", "The Revenant", and "Room" fall into the category for me of "Didn't See It; Don't Wanna See It".  With all due respect to the filmmakers and the audience that loved them, they are just not my kind of movies.  Doesn't mean they're bad; just means that they are not for me.

So what movie would I choose if they gave me a vote?  Based on the four that I have seen so far, I would go in this order...#4 "Bridge of Spies", #3 "Brooklyn", #2 "The Martian", and the the winner would be...."Spotlight", but that's just me, and who am I predicting will win?

All forecasts and odds makers seem to say that it will be "The Revenant", but I am going to play a hunch and follow the lead shown by the Screen Actors Guild Awards and call for a Best Picture win for "Spotlight".

Terrific ensemble performance by everyone in this cast, a great story, and a true one.  

There you go...nine categories, nine predictions.  As always, watch, but don't bet.

To Absent Friends - Wesley A. Clark

Well, I had never heard of Wesley A. Clark, either, until a small obit in this morning's Post-Gazette caught my eye.  The fact that I am even writing this Blog, and that you are reading it on either a desk top home computer, tablet, or smart phone is the indirect result of the work of Wesley Clark, who died this past Monday at the age of 88.

Clark was a physicist who designed the first modern personal computer.  Working with scientists, programmers, and engineers at MIT in the late 1950's, Clark's ideas and designs built the bridge from massive, expensive, and inaccessible mainframe computers to those handy little gadgets that we all seem to be, for better or worse, connected to today.  As the obit said today, Clark and his colleagues "early on had the insight that the cost of computing would fall inexorably and lead to computers that were then unimaginable" in the late fifties and early sixties.

No word in the obit as to whether or not Clark became wealthy because of his work.

RIP Wesley A. Clark.

Friday, February 26, 2016

"The Maltese Falcon"

This past Wednesday evening, we took in the special TCM/Fathom Events showing to John Huston's 1941 classic, "The Maltese Falcon", on a big screen at the Cinemark Theaters.

Having just re-read the book last month (for the first time in over forty years), I was truck by how closely the movie followed the Dashiell Hammett novel, both in plot continuity and dialog.  The screenplay was written by John Huston, and it was his purpose to follow the book as closely as possible.  Two movie versions (1931 and 1936) of the book had already been made and both were terrible.  Huston saw the cinematic possibilities of the story as no one else had before him.  He convinced Warner Brothers to have him direct the movie. The result was a classic.  This was the first directing effort by Huston, who would go on to become one of Hollywood's great directors.  

The plot revolves around the recovery of jewel encrusted statue of a black bird, the Maltese Falcon, but as is often the case in such movies, plot is secondary to the acting, the setting, the dialog, and the mood created by the filmmakers.  And it is an important movie in that it rescued actor Humphrey Bogart from what had been a career of mediocre roles. The part of Sam Spade set the stage for the many great roles that followed for him in movies such as Casablanca, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, Key Largo, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen.  "The Maltese Falcon" is also considered the first example of film noir in America, and, as such, it established the standard for so many movies of this nature in the years ahead.

Also, consider the part of Casper Gutman played by Sydney Greenstreet.  Greenstreet, a stage actor, was 62 years old at the time and this was his first movie role, and he was terrific, getting an Oscar nomination for his efforts.

Just a fabulous movie, and a great experience seeing it in a theater on a big screen.  Incidentally, mark your calendars for April when TCM/Fathom Events will be showing the great "On The Waterfront" as part of this series.

For a final, and more scholarly, and no doubt better written, treatise on "The Maltese Falcon", I give you to this piece written by the late film critic Roger Ebert in 2001.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Farewell, Heath Miller

The biggest sports news to hit Pittsburgh while I was away in Florida last week was the announcement  by Steelers tight end Heath Miller that he was retiring from football after an eleven year career.  As John Mehno put it in his Sunday column, if, as the Steelers fanatics believe, there really is a "Steelers Way", then Heath Miller was the embodiment of it.  Never flashy, never a showboat, never looking out for anything other than what was best for the team, Miller is undeniably the greatest tight end in Steelers history.  In fact, only Hines Ward has caught more passes in all of Steelers history.  Think about that for a minute or two.

And even in his last act as a player, Miller informed the team of his plans to retire early in the off season so that the team could structure their draft and free agency plans knowing that he would no longer be a part of the team.  Classy.

I would highly recommend that you read this piece by Bob Labriola that perfectly sums up the career of Heath Miller.  It says it all.

So, farewell to Heath Miller, a two time Super Bowl Champion.

Another Family Reunion

One of the neat parts of our recent vacation to Boca Raton was the opportunity to meet my second cousin, Marla Madden.  Regular readers may recall the story of the phone call that I received last year from Marla informing me of her genealogical research into the family tree of one Thomas Madden (our great-grandfather) and introducing me to a whole flock of cousins that I never knew that I had.

Anyway, when Marilyn and I made plans for our trip, I had forgotten that Marla lived in Boca Raton, and when I remembered that fact a few weeks back, I contacted her, and we made the arrangements to get together, and it sure was nice to meet up with the person who has been responsible for so many Madden Family cousins getting to know each other.

Marilyn and I met Marla at her home, and we then had a delightful lunch together in downtown Boca Raton.  Unfortunately, we didn't  get to meet Marla's daughter, Tina, who was still in school that day.  That meeting will have to come another day.

Just for the record of those of you keeping score out there, Marla's grandfather, Leo Madden, and my grandfather, Bill Madden, were brothers, the sons of Thomas Madden.

Thank you once again, Marla, for pulling all of us together.

Boca Raton, Florida

If you have noticed that I have not been checking in of late, it is due to the fact that Mrs. Grandstander and I have just returned from a week's vacation in Boca Raton, Florida, where we stayed at the beautiful, fancy, and, not incidentally, expensive Boca Raton Resort & Beach Club.

(As an aside, I was told that "Boca Raton" is Spanish for "mouth of the rat", and name that dates back to the Spanish conquerors of Florida back in the sixteenth century.  However, I suspect that "Boca Raton" is REALLY Spanish for "land of rich old babes with lots of plastic surgery."  Just an observation on my part.)

The weather was beautiful, the service impeccable, and the food was absolutely top shelf.  Some scenes at the resort will give you an idea:

 (This was the view from our room.)

I mentioned that the place was expensive, and I don't want to sound like a whiny human being, and I expect to pay a price for top shelf facilities and services, but there comes a time where you just want to say...

But it was a wonderful vacation.  And we didn't stay at the resort the entire time.  We visited   the Everglades and took an air boat ride...

Saw some alligators in the wild....

Saw an alligator show...

And talk about fine dining...

And visited some surrounding areas such as downtown Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, and Delray Beach.

Great to escape the Pittsburgh winter and wear shorts and t-shirts for a week.  As always, however, as we do at the end of every vacation, we invoke the words of Paul Simon and say, "Gee, but it's great to be back home."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Catching Up.....

Some odds and ends......

In anticipation of the movie, "The Maltese Falcon" being shown in local movie theaters later this month as part of the TCM/Fathom Events series, I decided that I would reread the classic Dashiell Hammett novel upon which it is based.  I know that I read this book sometime during my college years, and I have seen the movie many, many times since, so I thought that taking another look at the original would be worth my time, and it was.

"The Maltese Falcon" was published in 1929, and the novel and its main character, private eye Sam Spade, are considered the proto-types of the hard-boiled detective story genre.  The famous 1941 movie version stays fairly true to the novel (although Hammett's Spade looks nothing like Humphrey Bogart), and while the movie hints about sexual goings on between Spade and Iva Archer, and Spade and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, the book comes right out and tells you, although not in any graphic manner.

The book is considered a classic, and it is if for no other reason that the way that Hammett could write.  A couple of examples:  

A description of Iva Archer: "She was a blonde woman of a few more years than thirty.  Her facial prettiness was perhaps five years past its best moment."

A description of Spade during a meeting with Brigid: "He stood beside the fireplace and looked at her with eyes that studied, weighted, judged her without pretense that they were not studying, weighing, judging her."

And a quote from Casper Gutman talking to Spade: "This is actual money, genuine coin of the realm, sir. With a dollar of this you can buy more than ten dollars worth of talk."

The book is full of great writing like this.  Well worth reading.


As a prelude to watching the Super Bowl last Sunday afternoon, we took ourselves to the movies to see the newest from the Coen Brothers, "Hail, Caesar", and, sorry to say, we were disappointed.

Like all Coen Brothers films, this one had some great acting performances from a talented cast, some quirky and funny dialog, and was beautiful to look at. Unfortunately, the whole was not as good as the sum of the parts.

Two stars from The Grandstander on this one.


Speaking of books, "Breakdown" is the latest release from Jonathan Kellerman that features his main series characters, psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware and his police detective friend, Lt. Milo Sturgis.

Kellerman has written over two dozen of these Delaware novels, and perhaps he has lost a little something off of his fastball, but the stories are still engrossing and make for quick and entertaining reading.  I also think that Kellerman writes absolutely terrific dialog, perhaps the best of any of the popular novelists that I read.


I have been giving a couple of new television series a look-see.

The first is "Outsiders" that airs on WGN America.  It is the story of an off-the grid clan who have lived on a mountain top in Kentucky for generations.  Trouble is, the family, the Farrells, do not own the land, a giant coal company does, and they want to mine the land, and the local authorities now have to evict the hillbilly Farrells off of the mountain, and the Farrells, let us say, do not plan to go gently into the good night.

Normally, this is not the kind of show that I would watch, but I am drawn to it because a young man, Billy Hepfinger, whom Marilyn and I have known, literally, since he was a baby, has a fairly significant supporting part in the series, so I think that I am going to stick this one out for its thirteen week run.

Not so for FX's "The People vs OJ: An American Crime Story".  As the title suggests, this is all about the arrest and trial of OJ Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her companion, Ron Goldman.  I have watched the first two episodes of this ten week series, and I think that that is about enough.  Cuba Gooding as OJ Simpson doesn't quite wash with me and the characterizations of two of the principal parts are terrible. A woman named Sarah Paulson, with whom I am not familiar, plays prosecutor Marcia Clark so shrilly as the stereotypical put-upon-female-in-a-man's-world, that it's just hard to watch.  

Paulson, however looks like Meryl Streep and Katherine Hepburn rolled into one compared to John Travolta's Robert Shapiro.  I'm not sure quite how to describe Travolta's performance here, other than to say....well, I'm not sure how to say it.  It's bad.

I may look on this one from time to time over the next few weeks, but it is not appointment TV for me, and I have taken it off of my DVR schedule.

Pirates pitcher and catchers report this week for Spring Training, and in its preview story this morning, the Post-Gazette actually included the name of Pedro Florimon.  To which I say, Are you kidding me?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Reflections

Well, he Feel-Good Story that so many people wanted, but that few thought would happen, actually did happen in Santa Clara last night.  The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl, 24-10 and in what will assuredly be his final game, Peyton Manning goes out a champion.

Not that this was Manning's game.  In fact, he wasn't very good last night, but when combined with a ferocious Broncos defense, he was good enough, and his poor game stats will not be inscribed on that Super Bowl ring he will be receiving a few months from now.  Also, a second Super Bowl championship will surely erase the memories of generally uneven performances in post-season play in his extraordinary career. So, congratulations, Peyton Manning.  I am glad that it ended this way.

On the other side of the field, the football world was preparing to anoint Cam Newton as the new Face of the NFL after what would surely be a relatively easy win over Denver.  Well, once again we were all taught a lesson that you really do have to play the game before you can claim victory.  Newton's MVP season will surely be tarnished by what was a generally poor performance and by failing to attempt to recover his own fumble late in the game while deep in his own territory when his team was trailing by only six points.  This was an action that has been called everything from "questionable" to "hard to defend" to "gutless" from various sources in the wake of the conclusion of the game.  And, finally, perhaps most indefensible of all, was his performance in his post-game press conference when he showed up in a hoodie, mumbled one word answers, and the got up and walked out two and half minutes into it.

For a guy who loved the media attention all week and used it as his own bully pulpit, such a performance was inexcusable.  You can't have it both ways, Cam.  Contrast it to how Russell Wilson faced the music last year after his goal line interception cost the Seahawks a Bowl win.  Bill Bellichick gets ripped all the time for what a sore loser he can be with the press.  Newton deserves no less.  As one wag put it, he went from Superman to the Incredible Sulk in a period of three hours.

As for other comments, I took notes (yep, I actually did) during the game to record my thoughts and impressions in real time, and here are some of them, in no particular order.
  • Two minutes and twenty seconds is way too long to drag out the Star Spangled Banner, but despite that, Lady Gaga's rendition of the Anthem was magnificent.
  • The Doritos commercial with the pregnant lady getting an ultra-sound scan of her baby was really good.  In fact, it was to me the only notable commercial of the day.
  • First quarter.  Jericho Cotchery's catch for a significant gain is ruled incomplete and that ruling in then, incredibly, upheld upon review.  I have a good friend who is an NFL official (he was not working yesterday), and I truly respect the work that the zebras have to do in any given game, but THAT WAS A CATCH!!!!  The NFL rules interpretation of what constitutes a "catch" is ridiculous.
  • The non-catch proved to be significant, because shortly thereafter, while still deep in their own territory, Denver forced a Cam Newton fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.  Would the end result of the game had been different if that Cotchery play was correctly ruled?  We'll never know.
  • Twice in the first half (and it happened again in the second half), Denver got inside the Panther twenty and had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.  At the time, I thought that this would come back to bite Denver in the hindquarters, but it didn't, as things turned out.
  • With 3:12 remaining in the third quarter and the score 16-7, I wrote "Are Carolina's sphincters getting tight here?"  I guess I was right.
  • With 9:00 to play in the game, after yet another Denver "three-and-out", I wondered what was the Super Bowl record for "Three-and-Outs"?  I never did find out, but if those teams didn't set the record last night, they surely had to have come close.
Now for the obligatory comment on the Halftime Show.  It's not that I dislike Coldplay, but it's more to the point that I am unfamiliar with them and their work.  As a result, I had no interest in the halftime show.  I glanced at it, but was pretty much occupied with otter things during the intermission.  I also wonder if the NFL had doubts about Coldplay, too, since they felt the need to beef up the show with appearances by Beyonce and Bruno Mars, two headliners from previous Super Bowls.  In any event, what I did see was just a display of Excess and Sensory Overload that was just too much to take in.  I find that I just don't care about these halftime extravaganzas anymore.

Also, from what I am seeing on social media today, there apparently is some controversy surrounding Beyonce's performance, either in the song lyrics themselves or some gestures that she made.  If that is the case, and this blows up into another PR disaster for the League, then I suggest that NFL bring in a couple of dogs who chase and catch Frisbees for next year's show.  Or bring back the Florida A&M band.  Better yet, bring in the Stanford band.  They would no doubt put on such an iconoclastic show, that the NFL would long for a return of Janet Jackson's bare bosom.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Super Bowl Prediction Time

I will begin this post by bragging, just a little.  In predicting the winners of the NFL playoff games this year, I sport a record of 8-2.  Of course, I just picked a winners with no point spreads, but, still, if I say so myself, that's a pretty good record that I will be putting on the line as I  select a winner for Super Bowl 50.

Everyone, it seems, is picking the Carolina Panthers to win, and many of them, and this includes smart guys like Steve Young and Ron Jaworski, are picking them to win big.  Personally, I get a little leery whenever EVERYBODY says that Such-and-Such team will win and that the Other Team has No Chance of winning.  This is still professional sports, both sides are getting paid, so unless you are talking about the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates, it's foolish to say that a team like the Denver Broncos has no chance of winning.

Yep, I know that Peyton Manning is pretty ancient and often ineffective these days, but he and his Broncos beat the Steelers, which I didn't think they would do, and then they beat 

Tom Brady and the Patriots, which I didn't think that had a chance of doing, and they have a terrific defense. So while Manning may be pretty much washed up, who can't be rooting for a storyline where the beloved veteran somehow summons up his past greatness for one last time before riding off in the sunset with a Lombardi Trophy in tow?  I know that's how I will be rooting tomorrow.

However, on the other side of the field, there is this guy:

Cam Newton, the presumptive NFL MVP, is truly a force.  Yeah, I know he dances, and struts, and dabs (whatever that is!), and does stuff that drives cranky old guys nuts, but what football player!  Watching him in these playoff games has been enough to make your jaw drop.  While the favored storyline might be the Broncos Wining One For the Old Guy, I think that the more likely storyline will be the Longtime Face of the NFL, Manning, passing the torch on to the New Face of the NFL, Newton.

So, who wins?

However, I think that we are going to see a much closer game than most people expect.  The line I saw this morning is Denver +5.5.  So, if you want to bet like the big boys in Vegas, I say that it's the PANTHERS to win the game, but the Broncos will cover the spread.

Enjoy the game and the commercials, everyone, and, as always, watch, but don't bet.

To Absent Friends - Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell

A news obituary in the Post-Gazette reports of the death of Edgar Mitchell at the age of 85.  Like many of you, if you had asked me "Who was Edgar Mitchell?" I would have drawn a blank, which is too bad when you consider Mr. Mitchell's greatest accomplishment in a life that was filled with them.  

In February, 1971, Apollo Astronaut Mitchell, a graduate Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, landed the Apollo 14 lunar module on the surface of the moon, and he became the sixth man to set foot upon the lunar surface, one of only twelve such men to do so.  It was an amazing feat, and it's too bad that the names of these men have slipped from our minds and into the sometimes dusty recesses of history.

With Mitchell's death, seven lunar explorers remain alive.  They are Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, David Scott, John Young, Charles Duke, Gene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt.  The youngest of these surviving moon walkers are Duke and Schmitt, both of whom will turn 81 in 2016.

And while we are at it, let's also remember those Men of Apollo who walked on the moon who are no longer with us.  In addition to Mitchell, they are Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad, Alan Shepard, and Jim Irwin.

RIP Edgar Mitchell.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To Absent Friends - Bob Elliott

Bob Elliott

Bob Elliott, he surviving member of the classic comedy team of Bob and Ray, died yesterday at the age of 92.  

The comedy team of Bob and Ray actually predates television, believe it or not.  According to the obituary in the New York times yesterday, Elliott went to work for Boston radio station WHDH in 1946 following his discharge from the Army.  It was there that he met Ray Goulding, who was then the morning deejay at the station.  The two hit it off immediately and started ad-libbing with each other while the records were playing.  Station executives realized that they might have something and gave the two of them an afternoon radio station, and then an additional morning show.  After five years, they moved on to a radio show in New York City.  Later in the 1950's and -60's, they transitioned to television, and never really went away.  In 1970, they did a two man show on Broadway that lasted for five months.  Even when their brand of humor was supplanted by louder generation of comics, Bob and Ray remained a constant.  I can even remember them hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live back in the 1970's.  They moved on to National Public Radio in 1983 and remained there until Ray Goulding died in 1990.

Ray Goulding & Bob Elliott
"Bob and Ray"

After Goulding's death, Bob Elliott continued to work in television, movies, and commercials.

One of the glories of the world in which we currently live is that the work of people like Bob and Ray can be sought out and found on the Internet.  Go to YouTube, type in "Bob and Ray" and be prepared to laugh, and laugh a lot.  I include here one of my favorite Bob and Ray routines, "The Slow Talkers of America".  Enjoy.

RIP Bob Elliott.