Friday, April 29, 2011

Here's to the Duke...

I'm sitting here on one of those spring mornings that makes your eyes ache with its beauty, listening, appropriately, to "In A Sentimental Mood," and wishing a happy birthday to Edward "Duke" Ellington.

He earned his nickname, it is said, because his mother taught him to be mannerly. As Garrison Keillor has written, "(It) came from his dapper demeanor and easy grace."

Ellington was my first serious exposure to jazz, a perfect starting point for what has proven to be a life-long love affair. I'll never forget the feeling of rapture after listening to the Newport '56 album -- particularly Johnny Hodges' solo -- and thinking, "oh, yes, this is music."

I went nuts over the "Anatomy of a Murder" soundtrack -- perfect for Otto Preminger's motion picture. I played it over and over one summer, remembering Lee Remick's sultry sexuality and Jimmy Stewart's quirky charm.

So today is Duke's day, and here's to him, "Mood Indigo" and all that marvelous music, a Schubert tune with a Gershwin touch, "Prelude to a Kiss."

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where have you gone, Hawkeye Pierce?

I've told you about it before...

How I found "M*A*S*H" because of my dad, watched that last episode with him in February 1983 (its 77 share is still a record), came to love it as a teen and young adult, and grew to adore it for the spirit it represents.

Last night, while fighting the usual three rounds with insomnia, I surfed over to YouTube, and found some memories of "M*A*S*H."

I started here by watching a trip someone took to Malibu Creek State Park, where exteriors for the TV series were filmed, on the 25th anniversary of the series finale in 2008.

Then I found this clip of the cast rehearsing scenes from the final 30-minute episode, "As Time Goes By." It touched the heart to see Loretta Swit's tears.

After that, I uncovered one of the many tributes that aired the week leading up to the big "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen."

Somewhere I've bookmarked an online archive of the 1981 PBS special "Making M*A*S*H." Google it. It's worth a look.

What I loved about this show was its humanism, its intelligence, the quality of its writing and the talent of its cast. Unlike virtually any entertainment program on TV today, "M*A*S*H" stood for something, commenting on the dehumanization of war and how those who were there coped with it, mainly by acting crazy to keep from going insane.

Alan Alda says in the PBS special that if "M*A*S*H" were developed as a pilot "today" (he was speaking in 1981), it couldn't be sold. That goes triple for 2011.

I prefer the later, more serious episodes, but I love it all, this situation tragedy about doctors in Korea.

If I can quote Harry "Col. Potter" Morgan, "M*A*S*H" made me a better human being -- and there aren't many shows you can say that about.

Thinking on it now, I can't help but ask, "Where have you gone, Hawkeye Pierce?"

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Monday, April 25, 2011

'Music Man' triumphs at UT

I told you last week that I went to see "The Music Man," Meredith Willson's triumphant musical, at the Clarence Brown for its preview show. But, I didn't get around to telling you about the show itself.

Oh, what fun. I think I just needed to hear and see one of those good, old-fashioned productions, you know, the kind that makes you laugh and smile and go home happy.

The UT production (which runs, on and off, through May 15) is filled with a cast of 40 and jam-packed with all those great tunes, "76 Trombones" and "Till There Was You" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."

And, of course, "Ya Got Trouble," which presents itself in the persona of con artist Harold Hill (David Kortemeier) when he gets off the train in unsuspecting River City, Iowa. You no doubt know the story. He's all set to take the yokels for all they've got until he meets music teacher Marian (Katy Wolfe Zahn). Then, gosh darn it, Harold finds his heart.

It's great fun and it's done so well here, as directed by Risa Brainin and conducted by Terry Silver-Alford.

Kortemeier was such a star as Don Quixote in UT's production of "Man of La Mancha" last spring. He shines again here, likable and honest, knowing as all good actors and con artists do that nothing sells like sincerity.

He and Zahn play off one another quite well. Add to the mix wonderful turns by Neil Friedman as Mayor Shinn, Carol Mayo Jenkins as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn and Karns Middle School 7th grader and scene snatcher Maggie Kohlbusch as Amaryllis.

Brainin says in the program notes that "The Music Man" is the perfect musical in that it contains not one wasted song. Amen and amen. Plus, it's all so wonderfully, deliciously infectious, guaranteed to raise your spirits and sing away your spring funk.

Yes, that was me humming and skipping back to the parking garage.

O-ho, the Wells Fargo wagon is a-comin' down the street...

For more info on UT's production of "The Music Man" visit here.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

How I finally met West Hills Sybil

So, I'm sitting on a bench outside the Clarence Brown Theatre waiting to see "The Music Man."

I had purchased a cheap ticket to the preview show because I love this musical. Jenn couldn't go due to a prior commitment; I was there by myself.

The doors weren't open yet, so I'd stepped outside to wait, since it was such a pretty night. A minute or two later, up walks an old woman using a walker.

I glance up. She looks familiar. I can't quite place the face.

We make small talk at first, about UT, about the play, about the director. She tells me she sold tickets for years at UT's Carousel.

Then she proceeds to tell me her life story.

Her husband ran a store down in the Old City. She's from New Jersey, met him in Miami Beach, at the beach. She had a hip replacement a few years ago and all of her children came to be with her. Her youngest is now 57.

"I'm famous," she says, and pulls photos out of her purse of her with Bruce Pearl and Russell Biven. She says Ken Schwall has had her on WBIR. She says Bill Snyder has had her up on stage at the Tennessee.

She tells me about the regulars down at the food court at the mall, including, "one of those Elvis Presley jerks." She tells me she grew up on a chicken farm in northern New Jersey. She tells me she misses it.

I'm thinking, "This woman would be a story."

It's getting close to curtain, so I ask her her name.

"Sybil," she says.

And it clicks.

"You're not West Hills Sybil, are you?"

"Yes, I am!"

West Hills Sybil has been a fixture in our West Side Shopper-News for several years. She is a regular at Long's Drug Store. I had never met her.

Pulling out a card, I say, "Wait until you see which paper I write for."

She pulls out a Shopper clipping of herself at Long's, grins, and asks if she can keep my card.

"Of course!" I say. "You are famous! I can't wait until I tell Sandra Clark about this."

"Sandra Clark?" she says. "The writer? I know her!"

"That's my boss!"

West Hills Sybil grins.

"I hope you enjoy the show," I say, and I go into the theater, shaking my head, amused and amazed and affirmed again that Jake Mabe is right where he's supposed to be.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

For whom the bell tolls

The guy behind the counter at the Fountain City Branch Library recognized me when I handed him a book ("In the Lake of the Woods" by Tim O'Brien) to check out.

"Are they keepin' you busy?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, but that sure beats the alternative," I said.

"Any day spent above ground is a good day," he replied.

His words continued to bounce around in my brain as I stepped outside to a heartbreaking, beautiful spring morning. I could smell the budding flowers. I could see the blooming Dogwoods.

A church bell began to toll. And, as it chimed, I remembered some lines from the pen of John Donne, a poetic companion to the words from the clerk at the library.

Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The speech

I joked that I'd shown up because I'd seen a light on and was looking for food, but guess who was asked to speak to the senior citizens at Beaver Dam church last night?

Yeah, I know. They must not have been able to get anybody else.

I love speaking to seniors. They're nice. They cook well. They get my references to radio shows and Lawrence Welk. They applaud even when I try to sing.

So, I told them about the time I got all tongue-tied when I met Tom Selleck in New York. And I said that I used to want to be an Oak Ridge Boy when I grew up. (I still do, come to think about it.)

And I told them about Catfish Dave and Bruce Blakely and Ed Byer and several other super stories it's been my privilege to share over these past 11 years.

I told them that the thing I loved most when Sandra Clark sold the Shopper to Scripps five years ago was being able to say that I work for the same company that once employed my hero, war correspondent Ernie Pyle.

I like Ernie because he hung out in the trenches with the troops. And he wrote well. A favorite observation: "When you go long enough without a bath, even the fleas leave you alone."

My other hero, the late, great Charles Kuralt, who worked for CBS News, has a great quote. "The everyday kindness of the backroads," he said, "more than makes up for the greed in the headlines.

I told the seniors at Beaver Dam that, too. And I believe it.

Thanks for having me, y'all.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Might not be your first rodeo, but you can still get bucked...

Got to tell a good one on myself.

The other night Mom and I were headed down I-640 from East Towne Mall (I don't have it in me to call it Knoxville Center) to Oak Ridge. Mom figured the quickest way to get there was to cut up Clinton Highway. I concurred.

I was driving in the far right lane.

"You need to make a right turn, but I'm not sure about this lane," Mom says, trying to be helpful.

"Just watch," I replied with confidence.

Sure enough, it brought us right to the off ramp.

Feeling smug, I grinned like a goober and said, "This ain't my first rodeo."

About that time I realized I was merging into oncoming traffic without slowing down.

"Oh, crap," I said. (That wasn't the word I used.) I glanced in the rear view, saw I wasn't going to slam into anybody and eased into the lane.

Without missing a beat, Mom says, "I think this was your first rodeo."

It wasn't, but that didn't mean I couldn't get bucked. Just goes to show what happens when you get all puffed up.


Monday, April 18, 2011

God bless an American hero

On this day in 1945, war correspondent and Scripps-Howard columnist Ernie Pyle was killed while covering the conflict in the Pacific.

His last words, to Lt. Col. Joseph B. Coolidge after the Jeep in which they were riding had been shot at by Japanese machine guns, reportedly were, "Are you all right?" The Japanese machine gunner opened fire again. Ernie was fatally wounded.

God bless a true American hero.


Sue me, I'm a bibliophile

I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them - with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. - Eudora Welty

Call it an illness. Maybe it is an addiction.

OK, I'll 'fess up. I love books.

Take this past week alone. I'm already juggling Bruce Catton's centennial history of the Civil War, John Laurence's Vietnam volume, "The Cat from Hue," and Douglas Brinkley's book on John Kerry's "Tour of Duty" in that crazy Asian war.

Sitting on the corner of my coffee table is another 'Nam story, "...And A Hard Rain Fell." On the book case is colleague Joe Rector's debut novel, "Baseball Boys."

Somewhere I spot a reference to a Civil War story I wanted to read last year, "Walking to Gatlinburg." So, I surf over to the library's web site. Three days later, I'm picking it up at the Halls branch.

Wednesday night, Mom and I stopped at the Books-A-Million in Oak Ridge. I found a Lincoln book for five bucks and the one Larry McMurtry I didn't own for three. Out front, we stop to skim the bargain bins. And, yeah, I come away with a coming-of-age novel centered around baseball and Bob Schieffer's collection of his commentaries. Hey, they were only a buck apiece.

Yesterday afternoon, Dean Harned and I bounced over to Barnes and Noble before taking in Robert Redford's excellent new flick, "The Conspirator." I found "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which I'd wanted Wednesday, and another Lincoln book in the bargain bin. Oh, I also threw in a magazine about a 77-day stand at Khe Sanh.

Last night I surprised my fiancee with a sick gift. Yes, that meant a return trip to Barnes and Noble. No, I didn't buy anything else. Just wait, though. It gets better.

Jenn has an appointment. I have time to kill. So, I bounce over to, you guessed it, Books-A-Million.

"Be good," I tell myself. "Just browse."

But I spot a History Channel documentary on Lincoln in the bargain bin. Four bucks. Then my eye wanders over to a paperback I'd seen the other night, "How to Read Literature Like A Professor." $13.99. What the heck.

Almost forgot to tell you. Already sitting in my pile is a Pete Hamill, a book on Ike as in Eisenhower, two more Lincolns, a study on the war in Afghanistan and "1861." Oh, yeah, and Dean brought by a book he'd ordered for me on Thomas Jefferson's travels to wineries, a presidential "Sideways," if you please.

Call it what you will. Knowledge is a good addiction.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

'Moon River' and me

Maybe it was the hues that streak across the sky before sunset.

Maybe it was the music and the memories and the magic of "Moon River."

Maybe it was the beer.

Whatever the case, Henry Mancini's hit popped up on my iPod the other night while I sat on the back porch.

I listened awhile, stared off into the twilight, and darn near teared up.

I thought, too, about Holly Golightly, and awesome Audrey Hepburn, and Truman Capote's triumph. I looked for a copy of the tome tonight at Books-A-Million (oh, excuse me, the store's been given the Orwellian acronym BAM), but it wasn't there. The story is better than the movie and the movie is sublime.

But it sneaked up on me, hit me in the gut when I wasn't looking, caught me unawares. Hasn't happened in awhile.

Who knows why we react the way we do to music or memories or smells or sunsets? I have learned the song remembers when.

But I have no answers for "Moon River" and me.

Maybe I, too, want to eat breakfast at Tiffany's and chase away those mean reds. Oh, dream maker, you heart-breaker...

Maybe it was the beer.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What we haven't learned in 150 years

At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861 -- 150 years ago today -- Confederate Lt. Henry S. Farley fired a single 10-inch mortar round that exploded over Fort Sumter, S.C.

Inside the fort was Major Robert Anderson and his small Federal command. They had been there since December, waiting for reinforcements that never made it.

The Confederate barrage continued. Rabid Virginia secessionist Edmund Ruffin, who had come to Charleston that spring to witness history, fired one of the first shots.

Anderson waited until after dawn to retaliate. At 7 a.m., the first Federal shot came from Captain Abner Doubleday, the man whom would later be given credit for "creating" the game of baseball. The only casualty was a Confederate horse. It was a bloodless beginning to a very bloody affair.

They didn't call it the Shot Heard Round the World -- that, you see, is relegated to important things like home runs -- but Fort Sumter touched off what would become known as the Civil War, a strange moniker indeed, given that this conflict was anything but civil. From then until even after Lee surrendered to Grant in April 1865, Americans went to war with one another. Nearly 620,000 would perish. So would an American president.

William Faulkner said perhaps more than he knew when he noted, years later, that "the past is never dead; it isn't even past."

To this day, Americans argue over what caused the war. To this day, they argue over what to call it, what to make of it, what to learn from it.

Abraham Lincoln is a hero to some, an anathema to others. Take a look at a presidential electoral map -- particularly from 2000 or 2004 -- and tell me that we still don't have a sectional divide. (2008 was an exception; it remains to be seen whether it will be an anomaly or a watershed.)

Civil War books continue to roll off the presses month after month. Civil War roundtables and societies can be found in virtually any American city of any size.

American political discourse in 2011, yes, still includes talk of secession.

Everything -- and nothing -- has changed.

I watched the first part of the Ken Burns documentary last night. Before drifting off to dream, I read a few pages from Bruce Catton's centennial history of the war, written 50 years ago. (He's better than even Shelby Foote, folks.)

I thought about that bloody pond at Shiloh, about the hallowed ground at Gettysburg, about the gentle spirit now belonging to the ages that left us while the man to whom it belonged lay dying in a small bed at the Petersen House in Washington on Good Friday, April 15, 1865.

I thought about those moving Mathew Brady images, about the dingy daguerreotypes of forgotten men and boys who didn't make it home, about the loved ones they left behind.

I thought about "Dixie," that sweet minstrel tune; and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic, the stirring stanza about the terrible swift sword; and the melody to the maudlin "Lorena."

I thought about the myths and the mysteries, the ugly truths and the damnable lies, the good, the bad, heaven and hell, and how the weather was.

And I thought, too, about the waste -- the utter, horrible waste of it all -- and wondered for the hundredth time how we ever came to think of this godawful bloodbath as anything remotely resembling romantic.

Old times there, you see, will never be forgotten, though His truth is marching on.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Doors open again at 165 Eaton Place

It was such a delight to hear the strains of that familiar theme and see the doors fly open again at 165 Eaton Place.

Yes, "Upstairs, Downstairs" is back. For those who have managed to miss it up till now, "Up, Down," as its known by its fans, was for years the most popular British import ever shown on what used to be called "Masterpiece Theatre" on PBS. Airing originally in the 1970s, "Up, Down" focused on the lives and intrigues of the Bellamy family at 165 Eaton Place in London -- both the upstairs, upper-class Bellamys, and the downstairs, domestic servants of the house.

It was a runaway hit on both sides of the pond and then, suddenly, it ended, shockingly, just like that. The final scene was of parlor maid Rose Buck (co-creator Jean Marsh) taking one last look around the house, hearing its voices rise from the mists of time for one last bow.

Rose and "Upstairs, Downstairs" have returned for a brief three episode run on what PBS now calls (sometimes) "Masterpiece Classic." The first episode aired last night. And, well, it was a mixed bag.

I almost teared up in the opening scenes, hearing that music, seeing that grand old house again. I found myself smiling. But what I was smiling about was the original series.

I first found the show in re-runs back in the 1990s on PBS. On a trip to Ohio, I happened to catch the famous episode in which the King visits 165 Eaton Place. I was enthralled. When I subscribed to Netflix in 2005, the first series for which I looked was "Up, Down." I spent the next five years, on and off, watching the original show's five seasons. What a delight it was.

The new show isn't bad. It's fresh. It's got a great, good-looking new cast. Marsh is a sight for sore eyes as Rose, this time around working to populate the new house with servants for its new owners, who arrive in the series timeline about six years after the first program ended. Co-creator Eileen Atkins shows up as well, in the delicious part of the unexpected and unwelcome mother-in-law.

It's OK -- but it's not "Upstairs, Downstairs." You must forgive me, though. I am an unapologetic nostalgic. I kept waiting for Mr. Hudson to burst through the doors, getting onto Edward the footman for some lapse in his work while the cook Mrs. Bridges fussed at Daisy for the hundredth time. In the upstairs morning room scenes, I halfway hoped to see Richard Bellamy sipping his brandy while Captain James mulled over his latest crisis while Prudence popped in for her usual tour de force.

(Anybody wanting to revisit the original series can find the DVDs at Netflix or for sale here from Amazon.)

The new series has the unfortunate task of following a legend. And, like the Timothy Daltons and Ray Perkinses of the world have found out, a successor rarely ever fills the big shoes left behind. I much prefer "Downton Abbey," another hit "Masterpiece" series, which felt a lot like a thinly-disguised "Up, Down" to me when I watched it earlier in the year. It's coming back for another run next season.

But, I'll watch the other two episodes of the new "Upstairs, Downstairs," if for no other reason than even when they misfire, programs shown on PBS are almost always better than the proletariat poppycock that populates American television.

Creaks and cobwebs and all, it's good to see the doors open again at 165 Eaton Place.

"Upstairs, Downstairs" is currently airing on "Masterpiece Classic" Sundays on PBS. Check local listings.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Song snippets

It's 1 a.m. and Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are pining away for the girl from the north country.

She once was a true love of mine.

I'm tired. But I can't sleep.

Now Connie Smith is singing about the only time she wishes he weren't gone.

Once a day, every day, all day long.

I sat on the back porch after dinner and watched the sun sink to its slumber. Van Morrison provided the soundtrack, sailing into the mystic.

And, I wanna rock your gypsy soul, just like way back in the days of old...

Just before bed, or what passes for it, William Lee Golden and the Oak Ridge Boys go with me on the Frisco Silver Dollar Line, takin' our time, headed toward that "Ozark Mountain Jubilee."

Oh, how the years have flown by; oh, how I realize how much of me is gone...

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

'Body of Proof' worth a look

Anybody else watching "Body of Proof," ABC's new crime drama, starring Dana Delany as a neurosurgeon turned medical examiner?

Caught the first couple of episodes -- it has to be the first episodic show I've watched with any kind of regularity on ABC in at least 20 years -- and it's pretty good.

I've gotta admit that the only reason I initially tuned in was because of Delany. She's been a favorite even before her underrated turn on the underrated "China Beach" (why isn't that show out on DVD?) in the late 1980s. I first spotted her in a couple of episodes of the seventh season of "Magnum, p.i." It was love at first sight.

Here she plays a hard-charging, sarcastic ME named Dr. Megan Hunt ("Quincy" with legs, as one reviewer said, in a sexist moment), with a keen mind and a Sherlock Holmes-like ability to diagnose much from one glance. She also has a past. She's divorced, estranged from her daughter, and was forced to leave neurosurgery after complications from a car crash caused numbness in her hands.

Jeri Ryan (the sexy co-star of "Boston Public" and the only good thing about "Star Trek: Voyager") plays her boss, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kate Murphy. Nicholas Bishop is Megan's partner, medicolegal investigator Peter Dunlap. John Carroll Lynch and Sonja Sohn are the put-upon homicide investigators who have to deal with Megan's interference during their cases. Geoffrey Arend and Windell Middlebrooks (the Miller High Life guy) provide comic relief as a forensic pathology fellow and the deputy chief medical examiner.

Wikipedia tells me that although the series is set in Philadelphia, it is filmed entirely in Providence, R.I.

One critic got it wrong by writing that Megan is an unlikable character. Not true. She's tough, sure, but life has made her that way. She's sarcastic, but that's part of her charm. The bluster barely hides her vulnerability. That's both plausible and appealing.

Network TV has way too many police procedurals on the air, but this one is pretty good. I guessed the wrong killer in the first two episodes, so that has to say something.

Watch it for yourself. See what you think. "Body of Proof" airs at 10 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesdays on ABC.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Frankie and Debbie fall into 'The Tender Trap'

Seemed like a good night for one of those fun comedies from the '50s. Rain and thunder and floods, oh my.

So, I slipped in my latest film from Netflix, "The Tender Trap," 1955, with Francis Albert Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds. I really wanted "Mad Men: Season Four," but I guess everybody else did, too. Short wait. Oh, well.

Frankie plays theatrical agent Charlie Y. Reader, playboy, God's gift to women, or so he thinks. Debbie is Julie Gillis, the charming, young actress who falls in love with him.

Charlie has it all -- a posh place in Manhattan, a snazzy wardrobe, a steady stream of lovelies parading through his pad. Like T.G. Sheppard, he loves 'em, every one. But that proves to be a problem when Julie falls for him. With her, it's all or nothing at all, to coin a phrase.

Those eyes, those sighs, they're part of the tender trap. And when it's Debbie Reynolds' laughing eyes, it's quite the trap, indeed.

David Wayne plays Charlie's best buddy and Celeste Holm plays the lovely lady to whom Charlie won't commit. Of course, he falls for her. Carolyn Jones pops in every so often as the chick who walks Charlie's dog.

"The Tender Trap" was originally a play by Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith. It opened in October 1954 at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. I saw Tom Selleck there, in a revival of Herb Gardner's "A Thousand Clowns," in September 2001, right before the towers tumbled.

It's fun fluff, perfect for a rainy Monday night, when you have the blues and don't know why. I've put it on pause to look in on the NCCAA Tournament final. Go Butler! How can you not be for Cinderella? It's "Hoosiers" come to life...

Well, I just spotted some lightning, so I guess I'd better go. Hope you're having a good night. I'll see you soon.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Lost Weekend

Well, it wasn't perfect.

You've already read about my Thursday. Friday morning I was standing in Kroger by 11 to grab grub for the weekend. Jimmy, the guy at the counter, recognized my name. He said some nice things about the Shopper.

"You're a busy man."

"Well, I'm just glad to have a couple of days off."

"Did the Tigers win their opening game?" he asked, noticing the Old English D on my jacket.

"Nope," I said. "They lost to the Yankees."

"Oh, no."

"Well," I said, "that's nothing new."

Friday afternoon, Ken Lay regaled me with stories of being "Kenny the clubhouse boy" for the old Knoxville Sox.

We began watching games at 1 p.m. and didn't stop until 1 a.m. Twelve straight hours of the national pastime. It's a personal best. Hey, don't laugh. This is my vacation!

The Sox stunk up the joint in Arlington. Bard was bad. It was ugly.

Ken and I welcomed Saturday with the velvet voice of Vin Scully.

"He's still got it," Ken says. "He didn't slip at all."

Later that day, I got up early -- well, early for a guy who didn't get to bed until 3:30 -- waiting for the AT&T tech who didn't arrive until mid-afternoon. Got him squared away just in time to see the Braves get nipped by the Nats and the Tigers get yanked by the Yankees.

Pal Mike Hermann showed up in time to see the Sox stink it up again. But, the steak was good and we found our chuckle for the night, about the batter hitting in the No. 2 hole.

John Lackey was even worse than Jon Lester. We didn't even have the distraction of the two girls who sat behind home plate during the opener. Mike did a dead on Jerry Remy impression. That helped. Some.

This afternoon, I fell asleep while Clay Buchholz served up four solo homers en route to a 5-1 loss to Texas. Swept on opening weekend. Say it ain't so!

There are a few bright spots amid the falling Red Sox sky. Yo, Adrian, for one. The kid can hit. Here's what Dan Shaughnessy says about him.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I did switch it over to CBS long enough to see Connecticut stave off a Kentucky comeback. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Tonight I'm watching "The Kennedys" on ReelzChannel to see what all the fuss is about. Have had enough baseball -- at least until tomorrow night.

It may have been a Lost Weekend, but at least we had some laughs.

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