Wednesday, June 29, 2016

To Absent Friends - Scotty Moore

Scotty Moore (and some other guy)
1931 - 2016

Way back in 1954, a young man walked into the Sun Record recording studios in Memphis, TN and said he wanted to make a record for his mother.  Sun executive Sam Phillips rounded up a couple of back up musicians, bassist Bill Black and guitarist Scotty Moore, and that singer, Elvis Presley, recorded "That's Alright, Mama".  

The rest, as the old cliche goes, is history.

Scotty Moore died earlier this week at the age of 84.  His is quite a story.

Moore, Black, and drummer D. J. Fontana became the early back up musicians for Presley and are part of some of Elvis' greatest records  - Hound Dog, Don't Be Cruel, and Heartbreak Hotel, to name only a few.  They were featured in some of Presley's earlier movies, and were part of the landmark 1968 NBC TV special, "Elvis", that is generally credited with reviving the career of Elvis Presley.

If you want to get a real flavor of the work of Scotty Moore with the young Elvis, get a hold of the album, "Elvis, The Sun Sessions".  Great, great stuff.



Moore never got rich from his association with Presley, and neither he, Black, nor Fontana were a part of the "Vegas phase" of Elvis' career.  He is recognized as one of the great guitarists of all time.  He is in Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 100 rock and roll guitarists of all time and is a member of the rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

How Moore was regarded by his peers can best be summarized in this quote:

"All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like that.  Everyone else wanted to be Elvis. I wanted to be Scotty."
                                                        - Keith Richards

It is hard to find video of Presley and Moore together, so instead, how about Moore working with another great, Eric Clapton in a tribute to Elvis.


RIP Scotty Moore.

To Absent Friends - Pat Summitt


All the sports world knows by now of the death of Pat Summitt, a victim if Alzheimer's Disease at the way too young age of 64. We all know the story...perhaps the greatest women's basketball coach of all time, winner if eight national championships and over 1,000 games at the University of Tennessee, forced to resign in 2011 due to early onset dementia in 2011.  Her battle finally came to an end on Monday.

Perhaps the best tribute and description of her impact and her legacy can be found by reading the the quotes in this morning's Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh's three Division I women's head coaches, Susie McConnell-Serio, Dan Burt, and Sal Buscaglia.   I certainly cannot say it better than they.

RIP Coach Pat Summitt.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Whither the Pirates?

Regular readers have not doubt noticed the absence of posts of late on our favorite baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and you can also probably understand why that has been the case.  The simple reason for this is that I've got nothin'.  No explanations, no theories, no solutions.

On May 27, with a victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington, the Bucs record sat at 28-19.  That nine games over .500 number was their high water mark in the season, and things were looking bright.  In the twenty-six games since then, they have gone an incredible 6-20.  That's '62 Mets territory there.

My Kwick Komments on what is becoming a hot mess of a season....


  • The pitching stinks.  I said at the outset of the season that starting pitching was my biggest concern for the team, and, man, has that been proved accurate.  And the bullpen has been even worse.
  • Andrew McCutchen.  What is up with the season he is having? Is he hurt?  He's only 29 years old, so it can't be a case of eroding skills, can it?  Maybe it's just a case of a bad year.  It happens, and if anyone deserves a mulligan for a bad year, it's Andrew McCutchen, but it's been killing the Pirates this year.
  • Neal Huntington.  The GM has more than proven his mettle over the last few seasons, but if Tyler Glasnow keeps throwing no-hitters in Indy while Liriano, Nicasio, and Neise keep serving up batting practice it's going to get harder and harder to listen to the he-needs-to-check-more-boxes b.s. from NH.
  • Injuries.  Cole, Cervelli, Marte.  They have played a role in this slide, to be sure, and no matter how good a bench you have, it does hurt you when "the bench" has to become "the starters".
Hey, there is some talent on this team.  They are NOT the '62 Mets, regardless of the last twenty-six games, but something has to happen, and happen soon, or night after night of this....

...will soon be replaced by night after night of this....


It's happening already.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

There Is No "Next Tiger"

As all golf fans know, at the age of 21, Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters in record-breaking fashion.  At the age of 32, he won the 2008 US Open in an 18 hole playoff while, oh yeah, playing on a broken leg.  In that span of time, forty-six of golf's major championships were contested, and Woods won fourteen of them, or 30% of them.

Nobody would have predicted that that '08 Open would have been Woods' last major championship, and while I will "never say never" where Woods is concerned, it must be conceded that with each passing year that does appear to be the case. Also with each passing year, the clamor arises as to who will be the "next Tiger".  

Time for The Grandstander to open up a spreadsheet.


Masters
US Open
British Open
PGA 
2008


Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington
2009
Angel Cabrera
Lucas Glover
Stewart Cink
Yang Yong-eun
2010
Phil Mickelson
Graeme McDowell
Louis Oosthuizen
Martin Kaymar
2011
Charl Schwartzel
Rory McIlroy
Darren Clarke
Keegan Bradley
2012
Bubba Watson
Webb Simpson
Ernie Els
Rory McIlroy
2013
Adam Scott
Justin Rose
Phil Mickelson
Jason Duffner
2014
Bubba Watson
Martin Kaymar
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
2015
Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth
Zach Johnson
Jason Day
2016
Danny Willett
Dustin Johnson



As you can see, the chart above represents each of the twenty-eight Majors played since Woods' Open win in 2008.  There have been thirty-two of them that have been spread out among twenty-two different winning players.  Six of them - Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymar, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, and Jordan Spieth - have been multiple winners, with McIlroy winning four of them, and each of the others winning twice.

McIlroy was the first obvious Next Tiger candidate, winning four majors in the span of four years, but he hasn't won since, and when he has been in contention after three rounds, he has spit the bit and not been close, often fading dramatically, as he did in this past Masters. Jordan Spieth appears to be the next most obvious candidate.  He has won twice in the last six tries and has been in contention in five of them.  Others like Jason Day and Dustin Johnson appear to be on the verge of superstardom, Day, in fact, is already there.  All four of those guys are young enough to be factors in and winners of Majors for years to come, but do you really think that they will accomplish what Woods did over a twelve year span of competing in Majors?  Again, "never say never", but I certainly wouldn't bet on it.

Two of the names on the chart above, Ernie Els and Mickelson, won additional Majors outside of the time frame of the chart.  Phil won five of them, Ernie won four.  Mickelson is undoubtedly the single greatest "other" golfer of the Woods Era, and Els is certainly in that same discussion, but they finish far down the track from Tiger when the tally of Majors is viewed.  In fact, going back to a point made in the prior paragraph, I'd say it's a good chance that neither McIlroy nor Spieth will surpass Mickelson's career total of five majors.

The point, if there is one, is that it is extremely hard to win a professional golf tournament.  You have to be better than over 140 other players over a four day period of time.  You have no team mates to block for you, get on base in front of you, or to set you up and feed you that ball or the puck. Sometimes you might get lucky, like Yang Yong-eun did back in 2009 (I mean, do you remember that he won the PGA that year, and have you ever heard of him since?), and there are some other One Hit Wonders that come along (Lucas Glover, Keegan Bradley)  It is real crucible out there, and with each passing year of Tiger not winning, his accomplishments in that twelve year span become more and more remarkable.

My conclusion - there is no "next Tiger", and if there is, I will be a very, very old man when I see him (and I'm old now!).

One final point for this little bar room argument.  Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors beginning with the 1962 US Open and ending with the 1986 Masters.  That was a total of 92 Majors during that span.  Jack's winning percentage was 20%, compared to Tiger's 30%.  If you tell me that Nicklaus was the greatest golfer of all time, I won't argue with you, and I would probably agree with you, but if you tell me that he was more dominant that Woods during their times on Golf's main stage, I might argue with you, although I would also grant you that Nicklaus nineteen second place finishes in Majors are a huge point in Jack's favor.

Just a little something to think over as we await the The Open Championship next month.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hail, Cleveland!



From The Grandstander of June 2, 2016:

Will LeBron James, perhaps a bit miffed over the everyone's season-long love affair with Curry play like a man possessed to let everyone know that he is STILL King James?  I think that you can count on that.  

Me? I can't wait to watch the James-Irving-Love going up against Curry-Thompson-Green.  I think that we are in store for a terrific series, one that will go the distance, and one that will end the 52 year sports championship drought in Cleveland.

THE CAVS TO WIN IN SEVEN GAMES.

As the saying goes, I believe I had that.

I was semi-wrong in one respect when I said that we were "in store for a terrific series."  Yes, the series went seven games, which by definition makes this a great series, but the first six games were, to be truthful, pretty bad games.  All were blowouts, pretty much decided before the fourth quarters even began.  Only the cauldron of a seventh game produced an authentically great game.

But consider this....
  • The Cavs overcame a 1-3 deficit to win this series,
  • They won two games at Golden State in doing so,
  • And the performance of LeBron James was positively phenomenal over those final three victories.
Not enough can be said about James.  No doubt that Steph Curry was the MVP of the league this season, but there is also no doubt - NONE -that LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world right now.  Back-to-back 41 point games and  a triple double in Game Seven.  When the chips were down and his team had no margin for error left, James produced and he produced Big Time to secure the Cavaliers first ever NBA title.  It is impossible to name, say, the five greatest NBA players of all time.  Too many great ones to narrow it down to a mere five.  But it is equally impossible to even have this little bar room discussion without including LeBron James in the discussion.

There is too much talk about this or that player's "Legacy" in a given sport these days, but if such discussions must take place, then I think we no longer need to have one about LeBron James,  His legacy has been secured.

And I cannot close this without saying how glad I am for the City of Cleveland, whose 52 year sports championship drought has come to an end.  I have many friends and some family in Cleveland, and I absolutely could not be happier for them.  I hope that all of them enjoy this victory to the fullest.

Doesn't mean that I will ever root for the Browns, though.

How the USGA Almost Screwed the Pooch

Picture this scene.  On a cold January Sunday evening, the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  In the second quarter, the Steelers score a touchdown, but Bill Belichick challenges the play.  The zebras go to the hood, examine the play, and deny Belichick's challenge.  Touchdown Steelers.  Then, midway trough the fourth quarter, with the Steelers clinging to three point lead, with nothing less than  a trip to the Super Bowl at stake, the officials come to Mike Tomlin and say something like, "We've been thinking about that touchdown, and maybe Belichick was right, so we may have to take that touchdown off the board, but we'll let you know after the final gun and the game is over."

You would say that such a scenario is ridiculous, and you would be absolutely correct, but, essentially, that is exactly what the USGA did to Dustin Johnson in the final round of the US Open at Oakmont yesterday.  If you missed it, here is what happened:

  • While getting ready to putt on the fifth green, Johnson saw his ball move.  At that point, he had not "soled his putter" behind the ball, a critical point.
  • Johnson stopped and called over a USGA rules official to confer.  The official asked him if he, Johnson, had "caused the ball to move".
  • Johnson said that no, he had not.
  • Rules official said, okay, you're good to go, no penalty.
  • On the twelfth hole, another USGA functionary approached Johnson and said that they were taking another look at what happened on the fifth green, that they might assess a one stroke penalty on Johnson, and that they would let him know at the completion of the round.
Now, before the golf rules nerds gang up on me, I know that the rules of golf are sacrosanct, and that the integrity of the golfers, who call penalties themselves, are at the very heart of the game, so don't tell me about Bobby Jones calling a penalty on himself in the woods that cost him a US Open title. I get it.

However, in this case Johnson did nothing wrong.  If he said that he didn't cause the ball to move, then the bedrock integrity that the game, and the USGA, prides itself, must be taken at it's word.  Also, and here is the key, JOHNSON CONFERRED WITH A RULES OFFICIAL AT THE TIME who said No Penalty.  What is the point of having rules officials on the course if the governing body doesn't back them up, and if they don't, the time to "get it right" is at the time of the alleged infraction, not three hours later after the round has been completed.

In the end, it didn't matter, but is that really the case?  Knowing exactly how many stokes you are in the lead, or how many you are behind, certainly affects your on course strategy and how you play the game.  Credit Dustin Johnson for having the fortitude to play through with the possibility of a penalty awaiting him.  On thing for sure, though, is no one was happier that Johnson ended up finishing four strokes, later reduced to three strokes, clear of the field, than the USGA itself.  Had that one shot penalty forced a tie that would have resulted in a playoff  that would have resulted in someone else winning the Open, this would have haunted the USGA for years and years.  As it is, the entire final two plus hours of the telecast, which should have been a celebration of the USGA's showcase event at a venerable golf course, that was producing an exciting and attractive young champion was overshadowed by the Keystone Kops methods of the stuff-shirted Blue Blazers from Far Hills, NJ.

Enough of that.  Let's just salute the new Champion, Dustin Johnson.  It has been quite a journey for him to get to this point, and that second shot onto the eighteenth green was one for the ages.  Well played, Dustin Johnson!


Friday, June 17, 2016

My Oakmont Story


With the United States Open being played at the Oakmont Country Club this weekend, I thought that I would share with you my own personal experiences at this great golf course.

No, I was never a member, just in case you were wondering, but during the course of my working career at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, I had the good fortune to be invited to play there twice, both times by customers of mine.  The best advice I received prior to the first time I played there came from my friend Bob Mill who told me "Don't even be concerned about the score.  Just go out there, hit your shots, and enjoy the experience."   That was good advice, which I followed and it enhanced my pleasure of playing there.  The course is everything that you hear everyone saying about it.  Beautiful, long, incredible bunkers, and unbelievably fast greens.  I did keep score, and I recall that in one of those rounds, we went out early in the morning, and I carded a 51 on the front nine, which pretty much amazed me.  By the second nine, however, the sun had come out, the greens had dried out, and it was like putting on marble.  I don't think I broke sixty on that nine.

There was a third time that I was invited to play, but it rained that day, and we only were able to play two holes.  We started on the back nine, and I somehow managed to bogey number ten.  On number eleven, I reached the green in three shots and somehow, miraculously, managed to drain about a fifty foot putt for a par.  Then the rains came and washed out our round, but it has enabled me to always say that there was one day when I played Oakmont in "one over par".  I don't have to mention all the other details of that day.

Enjoy the Open this year.  As of this morning, I will select Jason Day as the winner of this year's Open, but I reserve the right to take a mulligan and make another prediction at the close of the second round.


"Venus in Fur" at the PPT

Last night we took in the final show on of the Pittsburgh Public Theater's 2015-16 season, "Venus in Fur" by playwright David Ives.

It was a different sort of play, showcasing an audition of a flaky actress (Whitney Maris Brown) by the author (Christian Conn) of a play, one with a somewhat kinky subject matter (sadomasochism), and soon the audition takes on an entirely different life of its own.

The play had its moments, and there were some funny lines in it, but, in the end, I am not sure exactly what point it was trying to make.

It is worth seeing, though, for the performance of Whitney Maris Brown.  She was thoroughly charming in what was a fairly demanding role.  I am unable to find an age for her in any online reference, but she appears to be quite young, late twenties/early thirties tops, and I am guessing that we will be hearing much of her in the future.  For maybe half of the play's ninety minutes, she appears on stage wearing only a bustier, panties, garter belt, and black stockings, and I salute her for having the guts to do that.  I don't care how pretty you are or how accomplished an actress, that can't be an easy thing to do.

Whitney Maris Brown

If you do go, however, be warned.  This is an adult show in both content and language, so leave the kiddies at home and don't say you haven't been warned.

The Grandstander and Mrs. Grandstander give this one two and one-stars.

********

We have been subscribers, on and off, for many years to the Pittsburgh Public Theater, and we have enjoyed it a lot over the years and are looking forward to being back come the Fall for the 2016-17 season.  If you are looking for an organization from "the Arts" in Pittsburgh to support and attend, you wouldn't go wrong by choosing the PPT, and the O'Reilly Theater is one of he very best places to see a play anywhere.  Small, imitate, and not a bad seat in the house.

In looking back  over this season, here is how we rank the six plays that were presented:

  1. The Diary of Anne Frank
  2. Guys and Dolls
  3. Disgraced
  4. A Servant of Two Masters
  5. Venus in Fur
  6. Tru




Monday, June 13, 2016

CHAMPIONS



All Hail the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2016 winners of the Stanley Cup!  Like most Pittsburgh area sports fans, I was riveted to the clinching Game Six last night, and never relaxed, not for a moment, until Patric Hornqvist's empty-netter in the final minute that sealed the 3-1 win and 4-2 series triumph for the Penguins.  It was the Pens' fourth Stanley Cup win in their history.

It was an incredible game that capped an incredible series and playoff run for the Penguins.  I will leave it to the serious puck heads out there to provide detailed analysis of the X's and O's, the How's and the Why's of the Pens Championship run, but I will make this observation.

There were a total of three penalties in that game last night (not counting that one against the Pens with :09 remaining in the game), and a similar low number in Game Five.  Both this series and the semi-final series against Tampa Bay were played with a minimal, if any, amount of fighting and gooney.  When the stakes are at the highest level, the NHL players can play WITHOUT that sort of garbage, and when they do, it is a fun, exciting, skillful, and beautiful game to watch.  If they did that all of the time, then perhaps the Playoffs bandwagon jumpers, like me, would become more dedicated, season-long fans of the game.  Something for the NHL to think about.

And I once again want to salute NBC announcer Doc Emerick.  He is absolutely the best out there, any network, any sport.  As the third period was winding down last night, Marilyn said to me, "Who is that announcer?  I can't believe how he can do what he is doing in describing this game."  Yep.

And speaking of TV announcers, did you catch Alby Oxenreiter covering the post-game for Channel 11?  A lot of people did as he sort of blew up my Facebook news feed last night.  What a complete and total putz he was following the players and asking totally inane, downer, and downright stupid questions.

A final salute to the Conn Smythe winner, The Captain:



And I just have to share a meme (yes, I can now create memes, thanks to my friend, Donny Copper) that I put out on Facebook last night:



Well played, Penguins, well played.

A Genius In Our Midst - Broadway/Tony Awards Division

Amidst the Stanley Cup euphoria last night - in Pittsburgh anyway - the Tony Awards honoring excellence in the Broadway Theater were presented last night.  You will recall that six days ago, I called upon The Grandstander's Official Broadway Correspondent Bill Montrose for his annual predictions for this year's awards, and to save you from scrolling back through the Blog, here they are:

http://grandstander.blogspot.com/2016/06/its-time-for-tony-awards.html

Bill made predictions in then categories, and I am stunned, although perhaps I shouldn't be, to report that Bill HIT ON ALL TEN OF HIS PREDICTIONS!!!!  It was perfect 10-for-10 night for him.  This included his "Upset Special" pick of Leslie Odom, Jr. for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.  Mr. Odom portrayed Aaron Burr in "Hamilton", and defeated the heavily favored Lin Manuel Miranda who played the title role in this game-changing musical.  Don't feel bad for Mr. Miranda, however.  As the writer/lyricist/creator of this show, he took home a bundle of Tonys for himself as well.  The main point, though, is Bill's absolutely perfect score on his predictions.  Utterly amazing, and this was one occasion where your should NOT have followed my usual "watch, but don't bet" advice.

As for myself, I was switching to the Tony Awards show between periods of the hockey game, and I found the show to be captivating and totally entertaining.  It is currently residing on my DVR, and I look forward to watching the show in it's entirety in the days ahead, including the performance from "Hamilton".

So, I close with another hearty CONGRATULATIONS to old friend Bill Montrose with a picture of him and his lovely wife Joanne showing off one of their many Broadway souvenirs.



Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Cooperstown Sojourn



Marilyn and I made our first visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1976.  It was our Bicentennial Year vacation.  It was great trip, but little did we know that that we would return to this little village again and again as the years went along.  It took twenty-three years to make our second visit in 1999, but it was quickly followed by visits in 2001, 2006, 2011, and, once more, in 2016, just a little over a week ago.

If you've never been to Cooperstown, it is not an easy trip.  It's about a seven or eight hour drive from Pittsburgh, and it is in the middle of nowhere in east central New York state, and while that can be a pain, it is also a large part of its charm.  For this trip, we decided to break up the drive, and stopped in the town of Ellicottville, NY.  This is near the Senaca Allegeny Casino, where we stopped and dropped a few bucks in the slots (Marilyn) and the black jack and three card poker tables (me).  We also enjoyed the neat little town of Ellicottville, where we shopped and had a hard time choosing where to eat, before deciding on this place:


A good choice as it turned out.

The next day it was on to Cooperstown.  We love it there.  Yes, the Baseball Hall of Fame is there, but we find the Village of Cooperstown to be so much more.  It is a small town (one traffic light) as I imagine must have existed everywhere in the early years of the twentieth century.  People are friendly, and you can strike up lots of interesting conversations with the locals, and learn so much about the town and it's history, as we did with a gent named Ken, who was the desk man at our hotel, The Cooper Inn:

The Cooper Inn
(Stay there if you plan on going to Cooperstown!)

As for the Hall of Fame itself, what can I say?  I have written often of this place, and no doubt will continue to do so.  If you are a baseball fan and/or a student of history, it is a place you need to see.  I won't go into a lot of detail here, but will take this opportunity to salute the 2016 Inductees...



And will salute a couple of other stand-bys....




And share a piece of genuine baseball history that particularly stuck me on this visit, the letter that Curt Flood wrote to Bowie Kuhn in 1970, that can properly be called the Declaration of Independence for major league ball players...


Ironically, if a poll were taken today of all current major league players, I wonder how many of them would even know who Curt Flood was and what they owe to him.

I also got a chance to play golf at the Leatherstocking Golf Course.  Routed along Lake Otsego, the setting of this course may well be the most beautiful in which I have ever played golf.





Okay, enough of my vacation ramblings and pictures.  Not sure if we will ever get back to Cooperstown (of course, we have said that every time that we have visited), but it will always remain one of our very favorite places.

Oh, and let me finish this with just one final observation, and I am not sure that this is a development for the better, but we did see something new, some 21st century encroachment, in Cooperstown this time around, something that had never been there before:


Yep, parking meters now populate Main Street in downtown Cooperstown. Oh the humanity!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jameson Taillon Debuts


When I happened to come upon tickets for tonight's Pirate-Mets game (and thank you for that, Mike Muro!) last week, little did I realize just what the significance of tonight's game would be.  If you've been sleeping for the last 24 hours and haven't heard, Jameson Taillon will make his debut for the Pirates tonight, starting against Mets ace Noah Syndergaard.

It has been a long road for Taillon since he was the second overall selection in the MLB Entry Draft in 2010.  Tommy John surgery cost him the 2014 season, and surgery for a sports hernia cost him the 2015 season, but he has continued to work hard throughout, and has been lights out in Triple-A this season, and now his time has come.  Reading Taillon's comments in the paper this morning, I was struck by his maturity.  "This wasn't the path I envisioned, but it was that hand that I was dealt, so I've worked within it."  Says a lot about the kids mental make-up.

I looked up who else went in the first round of that 2010 draft, and lots of guys have already made their marks in MBL:  Bryce Harper, who was selected ahead of Taillon, has won an MVP Award, and here are some of the others:  Manny Machado, Chris Sale, Matt Harvey, and Christian Yelich.  And while it may seem that it has taken forever for Taillon the get to the PNC Park mound, keep in mind this little factoid: Taillon is fourteen months younger than Gerrit Cole.

In the post-game interview last night, Robbie Inchimikowski (who will never be confused with Edward R. Murrow) asked Mark Melancon his thoughts on Taillon's arrival.  Melancon said "I can't wait.  He's an absolute stud."  This was in contrast to Neal Huntington's comments in the paper this morning that this call-up is to address a pitching emergency, there's no guarantee that Taillon is here to stay, it still might be too early and yada yada yada.  Maybe NH is trying to tamp down expectations in an effort to take pressure off of the kid, but this just continues an old habit of Huntington's of taking an event that should be a cause for excitement and throwing a big wet blanket on it.

It won't be slam dunk for Taillon and the Pirates tonight.  They are up against the defending NL Pennant winner and one of the best pitchers in baseball in Syndergaard, but why not go up against the best in your debut?  I am hopeful that this will be the start of a long and successful career for Taillon, and if it is, I will be able to say that "I was there" for the beginning.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It's Time For The Tony Awards


This coming Sunday evening the world of the Broadway Theater will pay tribute to itself when the annual Antoinette Perry Awards, aka, The Tony Awards, are presented.  For this year, I was going to make the predictions myself with the simple statement: " 'Hamilton' will in everything."

However, I decided against that and have stuck with Grandstander tradition and called upon old friend and Broadway expert, Bill Montrose, to once again provide The Grandstander's Official Tony Award Predictions.  What follows is a cut-n-paste of an email that I received from Bill just last night:


From the Bob Sproule department of "I-believe-I-had-that", here is my Facebook quote from October 21, 2015:

"Still almost 9 months until Broadway's TONY Awards, and I'm making predictions?  Most shows haven't opened yet! Nominations haven't come out! 
A recent visit to NYC included seeing "Hamilton", the (high-buzz) Hip-hop History lesson about our founding fathers. This is a contemporary look at Washington, Jefferson, Aaron Burr (hiss/boo), and our $10.00 Alexander Hamilton. This is a high-energy "revolution" in musical theater, and it WILL win MANY Tony Awards in June of 2016; write it down ... bet on it! Many thanks to our children for the tickets, and YES, Joanne and I loved the show."
- October, 2015

Okay, so the 16 TONY nominations makes 'Hamilton' a good bet in many categories; (this may help improve my prediction results this year).  Here's my 10 picks:

BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL SCORE:  Lin Manuel Miranda ... Hamilton
BEST PLAY:  The Humans
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL: The Color Purple
BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL:  Thomas Kail ... Hamilton
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL:  Lin Manuel Miranda ... Hamilton

BEST PERFORMANCE (IN A MUSICAL) BY ...
   ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE:  Renee' Elise Goldsberry ... Hamilton
   ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE:  Daveed Diggs ... Hamilton 
   ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:  Cynthia Erivo ... The Color Purple
   ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:  (Upset special!!!)  Leslie Odom Jr.  (Aaron Burr) ... Hamilton (over the favored Lin Manuel Miranda) This is my "Should win" pick.

BEST MUSICAL:  Hamilton

This Sunday night, June 12, at 8:00 PM on CBS, we shall see how accurate I was.

I am planning on watching these Awards this year if only to see the performance from "Hamilton", which as you know if you have been reading anything along these lines, the "transformative" Broadway musical of the 21st century.  As you can see from Bill's email, he had the skinny on this one way back in October, when tickets could still be had for less than the cost of a three bedroom home.  That's why he is the Official Broadway Correspondent to The Grandstander.

And as for Bill's predictions, as always, watch, but don't bet.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

D-Day


I have posted this same item almost every year that I ave done this Blog, and I see no reason to change it (except for the anniversary number), so here you go....

Tomorrow marks the 72nd anniversary of one of the greatest undertakings in all of history.  To mark the occasion, allow me to reprint the post that I have posted on this date for each of the last three years.

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Every year on this day, I always go back and re-read a section from Andy Rooney's 1995 book, "My War."

There have been only a handful of days since the beginning of time on which the direction the world was taking has been changed for the better in only one twenty-four hour period by an act of man. June 6, 1944, was one of them.

What the Americans, the British, and the Canadians were trying to do was get back an entire continent that had been taken from its rightful owners and whose citizens had been taken captive by Adolf Hitler's German army. It was one of the most monumentally unselfish things one group of people ever did for another.

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Take moment or two tomorrow to remember what happened on the beaches of Normandy 72 years ago.