TCM in February**




Turner Classic Movies helps you focus on the coming Oscars with its month long festival of films shown on its TV channel.  Every night from  February 1 to March 3, it will show films for your enjoyment by pairing 2 movies nightly that could compete with each other in a category (eg, Best Director or a favorite actor). You can watch them, rate them, and enjoy them.  Here are some of their 62 categories.

Feb 1: Grittiest Streets of New York, The French Connection v. Taxi Driver

 Feb 3: Tiebreaker: Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) v. Barbra Streisand(Funny Girl), tied for Best Actress winner in 1968.

Feb 3: Best Way to Take On Political Corruption: All the King’s Men v. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 

 Feb 5: Favorite Supporting Actor Win: Anthony Quinn in: Viva Zapata! (1952) v. Lust for Life(1956)

 Feb 6: WWII: Best Turning Point Film: The Longest Day v. Tora! Tora! Tora!

 Feb 7: Favorite Swashbuckler: The Mask of Zorro v. The Adventures of Robin Hood

Feb. 8: Best True Crime: Bonnie and Clyde v. Dog Day Afternoon

 Feb. 9: Best Race Relations: In the Heat of the Night v. The Defiant Ones

 Feb. 10: William Wyler, Best Picture Winner: Mrs. Miniver v. The Best Years of Our Lives

 Feb. 11: East Coast vs. West Coast Dance Off: On the Town v. Singin’ in the Rain

 Feb. 13: David Lean Best Picture Win: Lawrence of Arabia v. The Bridge on the River Kwai

 Feb. 17: Favorite Movie With Three Acting Winners: A Streetcar Named Desire v. Network

 Feb. 19: Favorite Best Actor Win, Spencer Tracy:  Captains Courageous (1937) v. Boys Town (1938)

Feb. 21: Favorite Movie Prisoner: Cool Hand Luke (1967) v. Papillon(1973)

Feb. 22: Best Movie Mutiny: Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) v. The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Feb. 25: 1942 Best Screenplay: Original vs. Adapted: Citizen Kane (1941) v. Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

Feb. 26: Favorite Conrad L. Hall Western Cinematography: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid v. The Professionals

 Feb. 28: Favorite Boxing Biopic: The Great White Hope v. Somebody Up There Likes Me

Mar. 2: Favorite Gender-Bending Role: Tootsie v. Victor/Victoria

 Mar. 2: Best Coming of Age: The Graduate v. The Last Picture Show

 Happy Viewing!!


** = The information about films in this article is from TV Guide, Jan. 21 – Feb.3, 2019.



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The 50th Anniversary of…


…and events/films occurring in that year.  How many do you remember?

Average income: $8,550

Average cost of new home: $15,550

     Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (see below)


Cost of a new car: $3,270

Cost of gallon of gas: $0.35

Film: Midnight Cowboy


Neil Armstrong walks on the moon

Woodstock music festival

Film: Easy Rider


Project Blue Book Ends (U.S. Air Force investigation into UFOs)

Wal-Mart is established

Film: Hello Dolly!


PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) established

Sesame Street debuts on PBS

Film: True Grit(with John  Wayne)


Creation of ARPANET (predecessor of Internet)

First ATM in USA

Film: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?


Battery Powered Smoke Alarm

Monty Python’s Flying Circus on TV (see below)

Film: The Wild Bunch




Born this year: Brett Farve

Jennifer Aniston

Film: Take The Money and Run


Sports: Mets Win World Series

“        Mickey Mantle Retires

     Film: Once Upon a Time in the West

     Film: The Bridge at Remagen


Sports: Joe Namath “Predicts” Super Bowl Win

“        Rod Laver wins Tennis’ Grand Slam (2nd  time)

    Film: Women In Love

   Film: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie





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Baseball’s All-Time Nice Guy Team

Not all great baseball players have the fan-friendly attitude of Ty Cobb or Ted Williams. There have been players of great skill who could genuinely be described as “nice guys.”   Here is a line-up of such individuals.

Pitcher: Christy Mathewson.  Playing in an era when many players and managers (eg, John McGraw –Mathewson’s manager) smoked, drank, cursed, fought (physically with everyone including umpires) and had a variety of girlfriends, Mathewson stood apart from his contemporaries.  “A Christian Gentleman” was the phrase frequently used to describe the Giants’ pitcher.  He had none of the afore-mentioned “vices”.  Plus, pitching 3 shutouts in a single World Series and winning 373 games in his career also aided to his reputation as a “winner” and  a “nice guy.”

Catcher: Yogi Berra.  You were expecting someone else?  Who said: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”  “So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.” He  won 3 MVPs and his New York Yankees won 10 World Series.

First baseman:  Lou Gehrig. When Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in a season, Gehrig had 20 more extra base hits and was the AL’s MVP. Eighty years after he left the game, he’s still the finest player ever at his position.

Second Baseman:  Jackie Robinson.  When Branch Rickey required  Robinson to be “nice,” he was Rookie of the Year.  Without restraint, he was the NL’s MVP.  He changed the way the game was played and by whom.

Third Baseman:  Brooks Robinson.  He had 16 Gold Gloves.  Who had more? Go ahead, guess.  I’ll wait………………………………………………….Time’s up.

Shortstop:  Honus Wagner.  Still finest SS ever.  1909 World Series.  Pirates v. Tigers.  Wagner v. Cobb.  Cobb, on first base, hollered to Wagner: “I’m coming down.”  Wagner took the catcher’s throw, avoided Cobb’s spikes, and with the ball in his right hand, “tagged” Cobb out on the jaw.  For the Series, Wagner hit .333; Cobb hit .231. The Pirates won the World Series.  Plus, Wagner won 8 batting titles in his career.


Left Fielder:  Stan Musial. (see above)  Baseball Commissioner = “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior.  Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”  24 times All-Star.  3 MVPs.  1948, Led league in 11 offensive categories; his 39 homers were one short. Career hits: 3,630; 1,815 at home; 1,815 on road.  He hit everybody, everywhere.  Off the field, he placed a harmonica.

Center Fielder: Willie Mays.  At 16, he played in the Negro Leagues.  At 20,  he was Rookie of Year in NL.  In his next full season, he was MVP.  For his career, he was MVP twice; And finished in top 10 a dozen times.  Had 12 Gold Gloves and hit 660 home runs ( while missing 2 years for military service).  Ted Williams said: “They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays.”

Right Fielder: Roberto Clemente.  Nickname: “The Great One.”  First Latin player in Hall of Fame.  MVP in regular season and World Series.  All-Star 15 times.  12 Gold Gloves.  Second greatest player I’ve ever seen (behind Mays).


Mascot: Larry.  Cleveland Indians’ mascot in early 20thcentury.  He was a dog.  (see Larry and his BFF, Jack, above)    Toured with the team and participated in team warm-ups.  Traveled with them by car and train.  Tracked down foul balls and straw hats of fans.  Met President Wilson –and chased a squirrel up a tree on White House lawn.  Roommate of Jack Graney.  Every team could use someone like Larry.  “Arf,” Larry said in agreement.

That’s a team of great players who also lacked a downside (eg, drug use, inappropriate behavior). Leo Durocher was wrong when he said: “Nice guys finish last.” But, on his other side, Leo helped Robinson get started in Brooklyn and managed Mays in his early years.

The moral of my story: Great players can also be “nice guys” at the same time.      







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Netflix Arrives

Recently, I discussed our Comcast service and its cost with one of their representatives.  Their most interesting idea was informing me they could drop 4 or 5 of their lesser channels (none of which I ever used) and replace them with Netflix.  Friends had raved about what could be had with that service provider, so we made a deal: the new service was available for no increase in cost.


In the first two weeks of Netflix, I found three programs (specials) to be of great interest. First was “Springsteen on Broadway.”(see above)  It was a film version of the extremely popular and highly praised (and priced) stage performance that was out of my price range.  It was not a concert of his greatest hits or a summation of his career. It was a two+ hour description of his life from childhood in a small shore town in New Jersey to his present status as rock and roll giant.  There were songs within his presentation  as he accompanied himself on a variety of guitars, harmonica, and piano.  He described the various influences on him, his music, band members and marriage.  He tours the entire country, band members change, influences on his music are made, and in the end, he says: “I’m Mr. Born-to-Run.  I currently live 10 minutes from my home town.”  His gave a magnificent performance.  You get to meet him in all his stages of development. He tells a memorable tale and he and we are the better for it.  Catch this film wherever you can.


Second was a filmed concert of Ellen Degeneres’ (see above)return to stand-up comedy.  After a 15 year absence from where she started, the question was: Is she still “Relatable” to an audience?  Her Seattle fans answered emphatically: Yes.  She is funny and appreciated without the games and give-aways which she has provided for her TV audience.  Her sexuality is no longer a question or obstacle to be overcome.  She is humorous, observant, at ease with and entertaining for an audience.  She has not compromised her talent for her fans, but they find her an approachable, honest, and talented  performer. She is definitely worth your time on or off television.


The third program was called “A Grand Night in… The story of Aardman Animation.”  I assume you are familiar with the concept of claymation or stop action film.  If not, think of Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” or Wes Anderson’s  “Isle of Dogs.”   In 1972, Aardman Animation began giving Great Britain and, then, the USA/world Animated Short Films and, later, Full-Length feature films.  Oscars and BAFTA awards followed.  My favorite characters are Wallace and Gromit.(see above)  The first, Wallace, is a middle-aged inventor and the second, Gromit, is his dog/friend/co-inventor.  Wallace usually sets up a storyline and Gromit saves the day in their adventures. Gromit never speaks.  He has no mouth; but his eyes and their brows provide all the emotion a film’s co-star needs.  They both love cheese.

Their first award was for: “Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out.”  Wallace decides to build a rocket ship to take him and his friend/dog to the moon.  Everyone knows it is made of cheese and, as it turns out, everyone is right.  Four other adventures, both short and feature length follow, as do awards.

If you want to sample W & G’s work, go to You Tube for a 3 minute chase scene from “The Wrong Trousers”. The Hero (Gromit, with his friend Wallace) chase a villain (a gem stealing Penquin) aboard a train.  Guess who wins?  You do.

Perhaps I caught Netflix in a better than normal two weeks.  But these 3 programs have caught my interest, and perhaps yours, as well.



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A Final Thank You, 2018 (Part 2)


This introduction is a repeat of Part 1’s introduction. However, the people  described below are, obviously, different.

 Many famous people died in 2018.  Among them were: Roger Bannister, Anthony Bourdain, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, Roy Clark, Vic Damone, Aretha Franklin, Billy Graham, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee, John McCain, Burt Reynolds, Philip Roth, Neil Simon, Tom Wolfe.

However, other individuals who passed away in 2018, less well-known, made significant contributions during their lives.  Their actions made the lives of others easier or more pleasant in a variety of ways.  This article will give you an opportunity to appreciate their efforts and give them “a final thank you.”  This article is not intended to make you sad, but to remind you there are such people. If I missed someone who you think deserves mention, I’m sorry.  I’m writing a blog, not an all inclusive book.  Let me and other folks know who you would include in this remembrance.  Bringing attention to people who made life better for others is worth the time and effort.  (Thanks to The New York Times for its coverage of these individuals.)


Ingvar Kamprad, 91 (see above)=  At 17, he registered his mail-order business in household goods, calling it IKEA, formed of his initials and those of his farm, Elmtaryd, and village, Agunnard.  Other the next 7 decades, he turned simply-designed, low-cost furniture into the world’s largest furniture retailer –with more than 350 stores in 29 countries. It made him the world’s eighth richest person, worth $58.7 billion.  He wanted everyone to believe he was thrifty and claimed he drove an old Volvo, flew only economy  class, stayed in budget hotels, ate cheap meals, shopped for bargains =  Switzerland, to avoid Sweden’s high taxes, his home was a villa overlooking Lake Geneva, he had an estate in Sweden and vineyards in Provence, drove a Porsche, his flights, hotels, meals cost more than he claimed, and unlike those working for him he was not required to write on both sides of a piece of paper.

Claude Lanzmann, 92 =  His film, “Shoah” (Hebrew for catastrophe), took 12 years to create.  It was released in 1985 and internationally recognized as an important historical record of the Holocaust and a beautiful work of art. It was a 9 and a half hour movie without any of the footage of gas chambers or living skeletons Allied forces discovered in the German death camps.  Mr. Lanzmann interviewed living witnesses: people who ran the camps; survivors of the Warsaw ghetto uprising; among others.  An SS member said it was not true “as Jews said that 18,000 people a day were gassed –it was only 12-15,000.”  Plus, “if things were going well,” within 2 hours of arrival, Jews died in the ovens.


John Mahoney, 77 (see above) =  After obtaining 2 college degrees and finding himself dissatisfied with office work, Mahoney found acting work in Chicago.  He worked with David Mamet and John Malkovich.  Later, at the Lincoln Center in NYC, he worked with Stockard Channing, Christopher Walken, and Ben Stiller.  Finally, he was cast as the Father of 2 psychiatrists: “Frazier” and Niles Crane.  Success, and Emmy nominations followed.  He portrayed a retired police officer who loved his dog and his recliner chair.  When his younger son said a certain restaurant was “to die for” Martin corrected him: “Niles, your country and your family are to die for. Food  is to eat.”

Jerry Maren, 98=  He was the last of the 100+ Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz” to die.  Each of them had been paid $100 a week; Toto, Dorothy’s dog earned $125.  Mr. Maren spent his life as a performer (many other Munchkins could not).  He did stunt work for child actors like Jodie Foster and Ron Howard.  He found TV work and appeared in more than 60 films.  He said: “It wasn’t much, but it was steady.”

Helmut Maucher, 90 =  He left his job as the head  of a German frozen food company to work at Nestle.  He improved it by reducing the bureaucracy anf buying the American milk producer Carnation, plus the Brtitish candy maker of the Kit Kat bar.  The merger with Carnation (in 1984) was the largest in history outside the oil industry.  In time, Nestle became the world’s largest food company.

Raye Montague, 83 =  When she was 7, her Uncle took her to see an exhibit of a submarine.  She asked someone: “What do you have to know to build one of these?”  Noticing she was a black girl, the response was: “You’d have to be an engineer.  You don’t have to worry about that.”  Her schools and college were segregated. Later, she learned computing in night school.  As a clerk-typist, “working with graduates of Yale and Harvard,” her assignment was to produce a design of a ship.  Such projects usually took  2 years. She completed her design in 18 hours and 26 minutes.  Like her black female counterparts in the book and film, “Hidden Figures,” her achievements continued.  At the height of her career, she briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff  monthly, taught at the Naval Academy, and the Navy began using her system to design all its ships.

Freddie Oversteegen, 92 =  In 1940, Germany invaded her country (the Netherlands).  She was 14 and became, along wither 16 year old sister, an assassin.  She took part in drive-by shootings from her bicycle. German soldiers followed her into the woods and were executed by the Dutch resistance.  Jews fleeing persecution were hidden in her home.  In 2016, when asked how she dealt with war’s brutality, she said: “By getting married and having babies.”  After the war, she and her sister were given medals by the Dutch prime minister.

Devah Pager, 46 =  As a Harvard sociologist, her research revealed discrimination in the labor market and criminal justice system.  She proved an employer was more likely to hire a white man, even if he had a felony conviction, than a black man with no criminal record.  Her findings urged employers to eliminate the box on job applications asking if an applicant had a criminal record.  In time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed.

Joseph Polchinski, 63=  He was a believer in “string theory,” an attempt to develop a “theory of everything.”  He and his staff’s ideas changed thinking about space and time.  They created the mathematical foundation for the idea that our universe is only one of many.


Douglas Rain, 90 =  He was an English actor often seen in productions of Shkespeare.  But to millions of movie goers, he is most recognized for his part in this bit of film dialogue:

Dave: “Open the pod bay doors, Hal.”

Hal: “I’m sorry, Dave.  I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Stanley Kubrick had given Mr. Rain little direction for his part as HAL 9000 (see above)in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  And, when asked his part in the film, Mr. Rain replied: “if you could have been a ghost at the recording, you would have thought it was a load of rubbish.”  Mr. Rain never saw the film.  However, the American Film Institute rated HAL 9000 as the 13thbest movie villain ever.  So, Thank You, HAL, eh, Mr. Rain.


Dorcas Reilly, 92 (aee above) =  Ms. Reilly, while working in the Campbell Soup company test kitchen, developed many recipes that were printed on cans of Campbell’s soup. Her recipe for Green Bean Bake” was her most famous creation.  Of it, she said: “It’s so easy.  And it’s not an expensive thing to make, too. You only need 6 ingredients.”  More than 20 million American homes will use the recipe for Thanksgiving.  In 2002, Campbell’s donated Ms. Reilly’s original recipe card to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Joachim Ronneberg, 99=  His WWII mission was to eliminate a “heavy water” plant, necessary for German development of an atomic bomb.  It took place on February 27, 1943.  It was led by 23-year old Ronneberg who took 8 men with him.  It was a suicide mission: succeed and survive or fail and take your cyanide tablet.  In 1942, a 35-man British commando team had been lost.  Uniforms were white so they would blend in with the snow on which men skied.  Hours after midnight, the 9 men moved down a hillside, grabbing tree branches to break their fall and remain silent.  They moved across an ice bridge and through waist-deep snowdrifts.  They cut through a fence and put a gun to a guard’s head and urged him to remain quiet.  Their bombs were planted inside the German facility and when they exploded, the men began their 280-mile trek across forests and mountains into neutral Sweden. The Norwegians’ mission was successful: they had fired no shots, none of them was killed, inured, or captured, and because of their effort, London would not become Europe’s Hiroshima or Nagasaki. For their effort, they were given medals by Norway, England, France, and the United States.

William Shearer, 81 =  Dr. Shearer treated “The Boy in the Bubble” –David Vetter.   From birth, David was isolated in sterile plastic cocoons because he lacked a functioning immune system.  His condition was called “severe combined immunodeficiency or SCID.”  He could not touch another human being.  He had an older brother who died because of the illness.  A bone marrow transplant from his sister failed. In 1984, he was taken from his bubble for treatment which failed.  He lived 15 more days.  Today, infants with SCID are successfully treated within 28 days of their birth with bone-marrow and stem-cell transplants.  Dr. Shearer aid: “Because of David, thousands of other children with immune-specific deficiencies ae living today.  What he gave us was a powerful lesson in many areas of medicine –and just in life itself.”

Herman Shine, 95 =  In WWII, his best friend would not leave him behind.  A Polish civilian risked his life to aid in an escape.  A young woman he met by accident helped him find a hiding place until the end of the war (1945) –and, later, became his wife.  Two families hid him and his friend and risked their lives to save his.  Mr. Shine (his Americanized version of his last name) said: “I am alive thanks to not one but to a dozen miracles.”  He made it to America in 1947.  He worked as a day laborer, until he started a roofing company.

Mitzi Shore, 87 =  In 1972, she opened an LA club called the Comedy Store.  She was a critic, a confidante and caretaker for many comedians who came through her club.  She said: “We’re like a school, or a boxer’s gym.  We help people develop their skills, and get them seen by supportive comedy crowds, as well as TV and movie people.”  A list of comics who performed in the Store in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s would include: Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Garry Shandling, Elayne Boosler, Andy Kaufman, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bernhard, George Carlin, and Sam Kinison.

Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, 93 = She was born on August 5, 1924 in Sacramento, California.  When President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps, nearly 120,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent and legal resident Japanese nationals were evicted from their homes.  Mrs. Yoshinaga discovered, in the National archives, the only remaining original version of a 1943 government report that refuted the Pentagon’s claim that the evacuation was a military necessity.  Also, thereport undermined the War Department claims that there was no time to hold hearings before evacuations.  The discovery helped lead to a congressional commission’s conclusion in 1983 that the wartime internment was prompted by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and the failure of political leadership.”  In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which apologized for indiscriminately jailing Japanese-Americans during WWII without trial and awarded camp inmates $20,000 each.  Mrs. Yoshinaga helped former camp inmates apply for their remuneration.  And to remind her of her wartime ordeal, she kept a coil of barbed wire in her apartment.














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A Final Thank You, 2018

Many famous people died in 2018.  Among them were: Roger Bannister, Anthony Bourdain, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, Roy Clark, Vic Damone, Aretha Franklin, Billy Graham, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee, John McCain, Burt Reynolds, Philip Roth, Neil Simon, Tom Wolfe.

However, other individuals who passed away in 2018, less well-known, made significant contributions during their lives.  Their actions made the lives of others  easier or more pleasant in a variety of ways.  This article will give you an opportunity to appreciate their efforts and give them a final “thank you.”  This article is not intended to make you sad, but to remind you there are such people. If I missed someone who you think deserves mention, I’m sorry.  I’m writing a blog, not an all inclusive book.  Let me and other folks know who you would include in this remembrance. Bringing attention to people who made life better for others is worth the time and effort.  (Thanks to the New York Times for its coverage of these individuals.)


Perry Miller Adato, 97. =  Ms. Adato was an award winning documentary maker.  Her first film featured Dylan Thomas (and won an Emmy) using techniques that are commonplace today (eg, on screen and off screen voices, photographs).  She won 4 Directors Guild of America awards for her work featuring Georgia O’Keeffe, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, and others.  She believed: “If you want to change people’s minds and their attitudes, if you want to teach them anything, you can’t lecture to them.  You have to entertain them.”  One college student saw her work and said: “I had this ‘aha’ moment where I said: Don’t show the actors, just use the chorus of voices under the photos.”  The college was Hampshire College; the student was Ken Burns.

Alfred Alberts, 87 =  Mr. Alberts was “a largely unknown hero behind the first  cholesterol-lowering statin approved in the United States.”  He lacked the usual credentials (an M.D. or Ph.D.) but worked as a technician for (among others) Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, a biochemist who became chairman of Merck, the giant pharmaceutical company. Regarding the statin (lovastatin), Dr. Vagelos said: “That was Al’s discovery.”



Charles Aznavour, 94 (see above and below)=  If you have not heard him sing, you cannot appreciate his skill and his music.  I can tell you he wrote 1,300 songs, sang in 8 languages, has sold more than 180 million records, and appeared in 60 films.  He lived in NYC for a year and has toured the United States frequently. But if you haven’t heard him….

His favorite singers were Mel Torme and Fred Astaire. President Macron described him saying: “Profoundly French, viscerally attached to his Armenian roots, famous in the entire world, Charles Aznavour accompanied the joys and sorrows of 3 generations.  His masterpieces, his unique influence will long survive him.”  I suggest you find and listen to him sing, “Yesterday When I Was Young”, then you’ll understand him, his music, and the effect on all who hear his voice.



Earl E. Bakken, 94 =  He started tinkering as a youth.  As an adult, he invented the first wearable, battery-powered pacemaker.  Later, his company developed coronary stents, insulin pumps, and surgical equipment and did not stop until he had created the world’s largest medical device company.  Later in life, he benefitted fro his own invention, having had 2 pacemakers implanted in himself.

John Perry Barlow, 70=  He was raised on his family’s 22,000-acre cattle ranch in Wyoming and attended a one-room elementary school.   As a college student, he took LSD with Dr. Timothy Leary.  The result:  he wrote 30 Grateful Dead songs and led the desire for an unfettered internet. Perhaps thanks to the environment in which he grew up, he said: “There are a lot of similarities between cyberspace and open space.  There is a lot of room to define yourself.”



Steven Bochco, 74 (see  above) =  He created “Hill Street Blues, L. A. Law, NYPD Blue, Doogie Howser, M. D., and Murder One.”  Critic David Bianculli has said “all TV police dramas could be divided between those that came before and after “Hill Street Blues.”  Bochco’s cop shows added stories about their personal life, not just cops and robbers.  Bianculli also said without “Blues’” Andy Sipowicz, we might not have had Breaking Bad’s Walter White and The Soprano’s Tony Soprano.  Just a thought.

Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, 96 =  In recent years, millions of people have sent samples of their saliva to DNA-testing companies to determine where their relatives have been.  They can thank Mr. Cavalli-Sforza for showing them their ancestors.  He began to develop such techniques by, 60 years ago, studying blood types and 300 years of church records of the heredity of his village neighbors in Italy.  He founded a field of study he called genetic geography.  “He synthesized information from diverse disciplines –genetics, archaeology, linguistics, anthropology, and statistics—to explain how human populations fanned out over the Earth from their original home in Africa.  He denounced  efforts to suggest that superficial traits like skin color or hair texture had any underlying connection to intelligence, behavior, or character.”

Raymond Chow, 91 =  Mr. Chow began in the Hong Cong film industry as a publicist.  Quickly, he became frustrated with the poor quality of films.  In 1970, he left to begin his own studio.  He signed a young actor and martial arts expert named Bruce Lee.  His first film, “The Big Boss”, broke the Chinese box office record of “The Sound of Music.”  “Fist of Fury” and “The Way of the Dragon” followed with more success.  After Lee died (1973), Jackie Chan and more success followed.  Chow’s financial success continued with “The Cannonball Run” (Burt Reynolds) and, later, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”  Critics disagreed, but Mr. Chow said: “My philosophy is to entertain people, to make people happy.”  He did.



David Douglas Duncan, 102 =  “I think I did bring a sense of dignity to the battlefield.”  Because of his work taking pictures of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, Duncan is considered one of the greatest combat photographers. He, also, spent 7 years photographing Picasso. (see above)  Over 20 books of his work were published.  His book about war in Korea was called by Edward Steichen “the greatest book of war photographs ever published.”

Mary Ellis, 101 = “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” –Churchill.  Mary Ellis was one of the “few.”  She was a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).  She ferried 400 Spitfires and 76 other kinds of aircraft to airfields during WWII.  She was among the first women in Britain to get equal pay.  She took her first flying lesson as a teenager.  In the war, “girls flying airplanes was almost a sin.”  When flying during the war, “while my heart was completely fulfilled, my mind was busy in the cockpit of the fastest, most beautiful fighter aircraft in the world, as I was responsible for its safe journey to the R.A.F. pilots who needed it.”

Dr. Ronald Fieve, 87 =  In 1970, “Many doctors held to the Freudian psychoanalytic  explanation of mood disorders, but there was evidence that a medical model could replace it.”  Dr. Fieve and other doctors “persuaded the Food and Drug administration to approve the prescription of lithium salts for mood disorders (eg, bipolar personality).” Dr. Fieve promoted the use of lithium on radio and television.  “Manic-depressive psychosis” was redefined to “bipolar affective disorder” and lithium was successfully used to treat the illness.



Naomi Parker Fraley, 96  = For many years, various women have claimed to be the model for Rosie the Riveter (see above), the woman factory worker during WWII.  Mrs. Fraley was one such woman.  She said “I don’t want fame or fortune.  But I want my own identity.”  Following 6 years of research by Dr. James J. Kimble, it was determined, in 2016, that Mrs. Fraley’s claim to fame was accurate.

Sydney Goldstein, 73 =  I’m from Philadelphia and Terry Gross broadcasts her program, NPR’s “Fresh Air,” from there.  Recently, she thanked Ms. Goldstein for “changing my life…and all she contributed to the world of arts and culture.”  In 1980, Ms. Goldstein founded “City Arts and Lectures” in San Francisco.  Her effort combined an interviewer and a “guest” (eg, Stephen Sondheim, Bruce Springsteen, Nora Ephron, Maurice Sendak, Pauline Kael) for an interview in a theatrical setting.  The programs were part of a series which brought live audiences to watch the programs. Costs were kept low so more people could attend.  All participants (ie, journalists who did the interviewing, guests who answered questions, and audiences who observed)  were gathered by Ms. Goldstein, benefited.

Dr. Peter Grunberg, 78 =  In 2007, Dr. Grunberg shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Dr. Albert Fert.  Working separately, they discovered an effect called “giant magnetoresistance.”  Their discovery allowed computers and other devices (eg, Mp#s and iPods) to significantly increase the amount of data they could store.  The co-winners compared the data from their work and found out their conclusions were alike.  Reportedly, they got along quite well.  “After we had compared our results, we were ready for a glass of red wine from Burgundy.”

Anna Mae Hays, 97 =  Ms. Hays, after serving in 3 wars (ie, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam), became the United States first female General.  She had been named chief of the Army Nurse Corps in 1967.  During her military career, she recommended that married officers who became pregnant should not face compulsory discharge, and appointments to the Army Nurse Corps reserve not depend on the age of the applicant’s children.


Ricky Jay

Ricky Jay, 72 (see above) =  He was an actor (eg, on TV: “Deadwood”; in film, “Boogie Nights”), writer, magician, and sleight of hand artist.  IMO, he was, to sleight of hand magic, what Babe Ruth was  to baseball or what Tracy and Hepburn were to acting. He was a story teller and teacher who could make you laugh, possibly learn (eg, don’t play cards with him), and always be amazed.  He first did magic for entertainment at age 4.  Saying more is wasting your time.  But seeing his talent would lead to believing.  So, do what I did: Google “Ricky Jay”, find his performance entitled: “Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants”, and watch him amaze and amuse and educate you for the better part of an hour.  You’ll be a better and happier person for having spent time with him –even if only on film.

End of Part One. Second, and final, part next time.













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Christmas Gifts for Famous People

How is your Christmas shopping coming?  Almost finished?  What? Haven’t started yet?!  Oh, my goodness.  For myself, I’ve had trouble coming up with appropriate gifts for famous people who have almost everything already.  So, my list this year is more of  a list to Santa with suggestions on what he could bring specific individuals.  Here are my suggestions for him.

Donald Trump.  Since he has everything money can buy, I’d suggest going in a different direction. To go with his most frequently used emotions (Envy and Anger), I suggest Santa give him a third emotion: Empathy. With his emotions increased, he’d be a better man as well as President.

Tiger Woods.  2019 should bring him his 15thmajor tournament victory.  Then, maybe, Jack Nicklaus will start looking over his shoulder again.



Michelle Obama. (see above)  Her book should be a best seller, money maker, and award winner, in part because she said, essentially, “the Emperor has no clothes.”  And we’re not talking about QEII.

Philadelphia Phillies.  This is the baseball team I have rooted for since I was 7 years old.  If Santa can bring them another 4 good hitters and 3 starting pitchers to compliment Aaron Nola, they could be a winning team again. Instead of picking up in 2019 where they left off in 2018: with a record of 14 – 31 in the season’s last quarter.

Super Bowl winner.  Perhaps Santa could arrange for the winners of competition between the Patriots – Chiefs, plus the Rams – Saints , to play in the Super Bowl …with the Saints winning?

LeBron James.  In the next 2 years, he will make Magic Johnson, Lakers’ fans, and himself happy with another NBA title.  (And retire?)



Ruth Bader Ginsberg. (see above)  Give her another 8 – 10 healthy years on the Supreme Court.

John Roberts.  After informing The Donald that there are no Obama or Bush Justices, his next step will become the new “majority maker” for the Court.  And, perhaps, lean a little Left?

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year  in creating the most news will be: Donald Trump.  Who else could it be?  Chris Christie?  And, honestly, who else could it be?**

In 2019, the Nobel Peace Prize will go to: No One.  Will anyone ever stand up to Syria?  Millions of lives have been destroyed and the world wrings it’s hands, but does nothing.  Do the words “Never Again” mean anything?

The 2019 Brothers from another Mother Prize goes to Donald Trump And Vladimir Putin.

Oscar for Best Documentary.  A tie = RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor.



Viola Davis. (see above)  With another Oscar for “Widows”, people may start saying “She’s the Black Meryl Streep.”  Or would the chant be: “Meryl Streep is the white Viola Davis?”

Any agreement on some of this Baker’s Dozen of possible Christmas gifts?


** = Just prior to posting this article, I found out Time’s person(s) of the year.  It was a wonderful choice.







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