3 of a Kind

School is over and the Summer has just begun.  I know what you want: to see a good movie.  Maybe the next Superhero film.  (It will be the 38thyou’ve seen in the past year, right?) No?  How about a movie coming out in August: “A. X. L.”  It’s the story about a robotic dog.  No?  Then, here are 3 other suggestions.  Two documentary films I have seen and a documentary on HBO scheduled for July 16th.



Won’t You Be My Neighbor?  It is the story about Mr. (Fred) Rogers. (see above)  I wrote an article about him on June 7 for this blog.  Start there and add this.

Years ago, a friend of mine saw Mr. Rogers speak in Pittsburgh at some event.  He found out Mr Rogers wrote all the scripts for his show, and all the songs, and did all the puppets, but he didn’t act.  He was just himself.  He hated television, but saw its potential to teach children.  He changed how it was done and, thereby, all the children who saw it.  This film explains how and why he did it.  It is a wonderful film about a fine man who was an exceptional teacher.  He is dearly missed.



 RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg).  (see above)  This film tells you about her life and  judicial decisions (eg, as a lawyer she presented 6 “gender discrimination” cases to the Supreme Court, and won 5).  She  was married for 56 years.  She has 2 children and her husband died in 2010 (cancer).  In 1960, she was rejected for a Supreme Court clerkship position because of her gender.  In 1993, she became a justice of the Supreme Court.   In 2015, Time magazine said she was one of 100 most influential people in the world.  Colon cancer and pancreatic cancer have attacked her –and lost.  Former friend and legal foe, Antonin Scalia, said of her: “she has become the leading and very successful litigator on behalf of women’s rights –the Thurgood Marshall of that cause, so to speak.”  She is 5’1” tall and has become a folk hero.  Her “fiery dissents” in court resulted in her being called “the Notorious RBG.”  She gives Notorious R.B.G. t-shirts as gifts.  This film tells how she did all that in only 85 years.  It is an exceptional film.



 Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.  (see above)  (On HBO, July 16, 2010)  When I think of Robin Williams, these words come to mind: non-stop energy and boundless creativity.  How can he be contained in one documentary?  This is part of him = His classmates at Juilliard: Mandy Patinkin, William Hurt, Christopher Reeve.  Awards: 2 Emmys, 7 Golden Globes, 2 Screen Actors Guild, 4 Grammys, an Oscar.  Addictions: Drugs, Alcohol, Bicycling.  His kindness: He paid many of Reeve’s medical bills and helped support Reeve’s family.  Who most influenced him (in his opinion): Jonathan Winters and Richard Pryor.  My favorite films of his: “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society,”  “Aladdin,”  “Mrs. Doubtfire,”  “The Birdcage,”  “Good Will Hunting.”  50 times on David Letterman show; Letterman’s first thought after seeing him perform: “Holy crap, there goes my chance in show business.”  Other quotes about him: Terry Gilliam: “He has the most unique mind on the planet.”  Zelda Williams (daughter): “The world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter.”  Billy Crystal: “The brightest star in our comedy galaxy.”


This Summer is bringing you reminders of three exceptional human beings who made the world better than they found it.  Enjoy them, not only fictional super heroes.  Just a suggestion.










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Need Some “Good News?”


I live in a suburb of Philadelphia and get my daily news on television.  A typical day can include stories about fires, guns, robbery, murder, information on Bill Cosby’s trial, the latest scam affecting older citizens, a politician accused of inappropriate behavior,  and weather (eg, the next 6 days will have temperatures in the 90s –with a “real feel” temperature possibly reaching 100+).  I need a break.  I need some good news.  Luckily, I have seen a light at the end of my news tunnel.  (And, no, it isn’t the headlight of an oncoming train.)

Last Monday, I read in The New York Times (see top)(I receive it, daily, in my email.) this information:  “Subscribe to Our Newsletter Dedicated Entirely to Good News.”  It continued: “It isn’t all doom and gloom out there. But sometimes, good news gets lost in the shuffle.  To keep that from happening, we’ve created The Week in Good News,a feature that’s meant to help you start your weekend with a smile, or at least a lighter heart.  Every Saturday, you’ll receive a note from the writer, Des Shoe, and a rundown of great things we wrote about that week.  Want to see a sample?  Read previous editions here. Sign up here to get The Week in Good News delivered to your inbox.”

And it’s free, so I signed up.  “But,” you say, “ what are the articles like?”  Here is a sample of some of the topics in the last few editions of  this Good News oasis.



Can’t sleep?  Bob Ross can help.  For years, Bob Ross (see above)lulled people to sleep as he taught them how to paint.  Now, a company which produces meditation products (Calm.com) has begun turning Bob Ross’ episodes of “The Joy of Painting” into “Sleep Stories.”  Now, the sound of paint brushes helps listeners doze just as Mr. Ross’ voice did years ago.  (Mr. Ross died in 1995.)



Daredevil raccoon climbs Minnesota skyscraper (see above; that’s HIM!)and becomes a sensation.  It was first seen sitting on a window ledge 20 feet above a sidewalk, resting.  Maintenance workers encouraged it to climb down a ladder to safety.  Instead, it climbed higher up the side of a 25 story building.  People watched the animal’s progress from street level. Some watched with binoculars. Minnesota Public Radio broadcast the adventure.  The journey ended safely, but to learn the exact outcome you had to read the article.

Dairy farms find new life making …beer.  A dairy farm in central Massachusetts, like farms elsewhere, had to diversify to exist. The Carter and Stevens farm, in operation since 1938 producing milk, became The Stone Cow Brewery in 2016. Their new product sells for $7 a pint in its taproom, instead of 16 cents a pint for their milk.  Dairy farms elsewhere are  staying alive by producing “a different kind of liquid capital.”



Weight training (see above)finds a new benefit.  Walking and jogging as exercise can help  people deal with depression.  Now, it appears strength training can do likewise.  Plus, the weight training can be successful whether it is done twice a week or five times a week, and regardless of how many repetitions are involved.

A Macy’s goes from mall store to homeless shelter.  A vacant mall outside Washington, D. C. has found a new purpose.  It’s Macy’s department store has been converted into a homeless shelter with rooms available for 60 beds, hot meals, and showers.  As shopping malls struggle to survive in competition with Amazon, some empty stores find new life as offices and classrooms. This story tells one such effort.



Next stop, Summer. This story tells of a man who has delivered Mister Softee joy (see above)for 31 years.  His Father has done the same for 40 years.  Each man has been driving around NYC (ie, Manhattan and the Bronx), as one of 200 such employees.  A truck cost $8,000 in the 1970s.  Now, such a truck costs $140,000.  He decides what is the ideal location and how long to play the Mister Softee jingle (not very long).  He works 7 days a week during the ice cream season (late March to mid-October).  Out of season he works in construction.  This past season, cold weather cost him 6 weeks of work.  He won’t get that time back, but he loves the atmosphere of his self-employment.

Obviously, each story lasts longer than my summaries here.  But unlike my local news, the stories are always positive.  I think it will make a difference, in me.







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Saved for Everybody, 2


In my June 21st article, I explained why the Library of Congress (see above) has kept a selection of films “showcasing the range and diversity of American film history.”  The LOC also has selected a collection of  recordings for its National Recording registry that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.  No recording is eligible for inclusion in the collection until ten years have passed since its creation.”  Selections are made every year beginning in 2002.  25 recordings (or, occasionally, more) are selected in each year.  “Recordings may be a single item (ie, one important song) or a group of related items (eg, an album) or may contain music, non-music, spoken word, or broadcast sound.”

As with films, recordings that have been chosen are listed on a website. (www.loc.gov)  Other information about the recordings can be found there, as well as how sound recordings can be nominated for the LOC’s selection.

Among the LOC’s selections from 2002, for example, are the following:


Single recordings: How High the Moon, by Les Paul and Mary Ford (see above);  Respect, by Aretha Franklin;  Stars and Stripes Forever, by a Military Band;  Strange Fruit, by Billie Holiday;  This Land Is Your Land, by Woody Guthrie;  What’d I Say, by Ray Charles;  White Christmas, by Bing Crosby;  Rhapsody in Blue, by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (composed by George Gershwin).

MDavis 3

Albums: Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan;  Songs for Lovers, by Frank Sinatra;  Dance Mania, by Tito Puente;  Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis (see above), Bill Evans, John Coltrane, et al;  Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Gospel Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey.

A+C 4

Other sound recordings: Casey At The Bat, by DeWolf Hopper; Fireside Chats, by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1944);  I Have a Dream Speech, by Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech;  Ragtime Compositions on Piano Rolls by Scott Joplin (1900s);  Sun Records Sessions of Elvis Presley;  War of the Worlds, by the Mercury Theatre of the Air  (Orson Welles, et al);  Who’s On First, Radio Broadcast of Abbott and Costello (see above).


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Saved for Everybody


The Library of Congress was established in 1800.  Initially, it was conceived as a resource for members of Congress only.  However, over time, its contents became available to officials of the government, and, occasionally, the public.  It has become the world’s largest library.  It contains approximately 20 million books, plus many other items (eg, maps, photographs, films, manuscripts, etc.) bringing its total contents to over 103 million items.


Among its collections, the Library has a gathering of films “showcasing the range and diversity of American film history.”  Each year, beginning in 1989, it selects 25 films for its collection.  Each film must be “at least 10 years old and culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  At a website (www.loc.gov), it lists the films already selected to its registry, others that may be chosen in the future,  and the procedure to nominate future selections.  Along with these contents, film essays, etc., there is a great deal of enjoyable reading for film lovers.


The Library’s initial 25 choices for its collection included:  The Best Years of Our Lives,  Casablanca,  Citizen Kane, The Crowd,  Dr. Strangelove,  The General, Gone With The Wind,  The Grapes of Wrath,  High Noon,  Intolerance, The Learning Tree,  The Maltese Falcon,  Modern Times,  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,  Nanook of the North,  On the Waterfront,  The Searchers,  Singin’ in the Rain,  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,  Some Like It Hot,  Star Wars, Sunrise,  Sunset Boulevard,  Vertigo, and The Wizard of Oz.


Also, at the LOC’s website is “The 2018 National Film Registry Nomination Form.”  Perhaps you could offer your suggestions?


PS = I know you recognize the films I pictured here.  No need to give their titles, right?





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Familiar Faces


In the 1950s part of my childhood, the residents on my street finally got television.  Then, we had TV andmovies to entertain us. But, it seemed to me, many “character actors”–often present in both sources of fun—were seen again and again. Granted, each film and TV show had its stars,  but some members of the supporting cast seemed to be coming through a revolving door separating the two forms of entertainment.   Here are some names and pictures of people I saw on a regular basis. Are any of their faces familiar to you, as well? (Note: F/TV means film or television performances)



Harry Morgan. 165 F/TV between 1942 – 1999.  His TV seriesincluded: December Bride; Pete and Gladys; The Richard Boone Show; Dragnet; MASH.  He had numerous appearances on other shows.  His Filmsincluded: The Ox-Bow Incident, High Noon, Inherit The Wind.


Strother Martin.  175 F/TV between 1950 – 1980.  His TV seriesappearances included: Fireside Theatre; Schlitz Playhouse; Baretta; Lassie; Perry Mason,; Have Gun – Will Travel; Hotel deParee; Gunsmoke; Bonanza; Death Valley Days.  His Filmsincluded:  Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch, True Grit, Slap Shot.  His Best Line: What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate.” 



 Rita Moreno.  155 F/TV between 1950 – 2018.  Her TV seriesappearances included: Jane the Virgin; OZ; Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego; The Rockford Files; The Electric Company.  Her Filmsincluded: West Side Story, The King and I. Finest Achievement: She is one of 12 people who have won: An Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and a Grammy.



Paul Fix.  337 F/TV between 1925 – 1981.  In 1936, he was in 17 films.  In 1937, he was in 15.  He served in World Wars 1 + 2.  He was in 26 John Wayne films (eg, Red River) and, for a time, was Wayne’s acting coach. He was Elizabeth Taylor’s Father in “Giant.”  He was Judge Taylor in “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  He was in episodes of: Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and The Twilight Zone.  He was still getting fan mail in 1981 for playing Marshal Micah Torrance in “The Rifleman,” with Chuck Connors.  Words of Wisdom: “The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory.”



Burgess Meredith.  180 F/TV between 1935 – 1996.  His bio in www.Imdb.comis fascinating.  He is someone with an incredible number of interests and skills.  His performance as Mickey in “Rocky” only scratches the surface. Remember his performance in The Twilight Zone episode, “Time Enough at last?”  And 3 other episodes.  He had significant parts in 6 TV series.  Plus, his performance as The Penquin in “Batman.”  His advice:  Like the seasons of the year, life changes frequently and drastically.  You enjoy it or endure it as it comes and goes, as it ebbs and flows.



Ellen Corby.  266 F/TV between 1933 – 1997.  Active in films and TV guest episodes until 1971.  Then, she was in “The Waltons.”  She was nominated for 6, and winner of 3, Emmys.  Was a regular in “Trackdown” a cowboy series starring Robert Culp.  But Grandma Walton was her major role.



Richard Boone.  71 F/TV between 1949 – 1981.  Occasional film work (including films with John Wayne, eg, his last film, “The Shootist”) kept him busy before and after his 4 TV series.   The first series, “Medic”, was one of the first medical  dramas on TV.  “Hec Ramsey” was his fourth effort.  In between was his money-maker: “Have Gun – Will Travel.”  It was one of the better cowboy shows when they ruled primetime. “The Richard Boone Show” was based on a unique idea.   A repertoire of actors presented an original drama each week, with the lead and supporting cast changing hands.



Robert Culp.  169 F/TV between 1953 – 2010.  Had more success on TV than in films.  “Trackdown” was a very good western on the late 50s.  Teamed with Bill Cosby and had a popular show.  A couple other TV series went well and his 4 appearances on “Columbo” went very well.  Never a big star, but well-liked and handsome.           



 Robert Loggia.  233 F/TV between 1951 – 2018.  Has done a ton of TV work.  Had a show where he was lead (T. H. E. Cat), but it only lasted a year.  Guest spots on Rockford Files and Magnum, P. I. went well. And then there was “Big.”  Hit the jackpot, with Tom Hanks.  I’ve never seen him anything but wonderful.  “Return to Me” had a great cast, including him, Carroll O’Connor , Minnie Driver, David Duchovny, David Alan Grier and was a fine RomCom.



James Hong.   426 F/TV (that’s not a misprint) between 1954 – 2018.  Films, TV work, voice overs –he does everything.  You need an Asian-American actor?  He’s it.  For example, in 1956 he was a guest on “Sky King”; 1956, he was a guest on “The Millionaire”; and in 1958, he was on “Dragnet”, with Jack Webb.  In 2016, he was on “Elementary” and “The Blacklist.” I saw all those shows.  Mr. Hong has RANGE.  Oh, and in “Blade Runner”, when good and bad “guys” are tracking down folks who “made” replicants, Mr. Hong –trying to talk his way out of a tight spot—says “I just do eyes.  Just eyes.”, you believe him.  And how many folks do you see still working who were a contestant on Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life” AND auditioned for the part of Sulu (1966) in Star Trek? James Hong did.               




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Mr. Rogers and Friends***


On June 8, 2018, a documentary entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” will begin showing in theaters. It is the story of Fred Rogers –Mr. Rogers to those who met in their childhood.


A reviewer described the film this way = “Something magical and bittersweet happened during my screening of this documentary about the peerless and fearless Fred Rogers.  About 30 minutes into the film, nearly the entire small theater had broken into audible sobbing and sniffling.  Such is the enduring impact of this cultural force of nature.  It was a reminder of just how talented and uncanny Rogers was at connecting effortlessly with audiences through a screen and, sadly, it was also a collective realization for those gathered in that theater that we hadn’t been spoken to or, as Rogers would say ‘mentioned and managed’, in such a way for quite some time.”


Mr. Rogers’ occupation has been described as “children’s television presenter, actor, puppeteer, singer, composer, television producer, author, educator.”


He worked for over 3 decades in children’s television.  He said: “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.”


In 1963, he began work for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).  In 1966, he moved his show (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) to Pittsburgh and, in time to PBS.  His show began airing there in 1968 and had 895 episodes.  In every episode, he changed into sneakers (they were quieter on set than his work shoes) and a zippered cardigan sweater.  In a typical show, he might have an earnest conversation with his TV audience, interact with live guests, take a field trip to places such as a bakery or music store.  Or he might watch a short film (eg, to show how things are made, like crayons).  Each show had a theme (eg, going to school for the first time).  His presentation of material was very simple and used no animation or fast pace of material. He portrayed himself during the show. He discussed common childhood fears (eg, a child’s fear of being  sucked down a bathtub drain) in songs and skits.


His program won 4 Emmys, plus he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.  He wrote many of the songs on his show, as well as 36 books. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 40 honorary degrees, and a Peabody Award.  He is in the Television Hall of Fame.  One of his trademark sweaters is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution as “a Treasure of American History.”  He was ordained a minister in the United Presbyterian Church.  He swam every morning and did not smoke or drink. He became a vegetarian in his 40s because, as he said: “I don’t want to eat anything that has a Mother.”


In 1969, he appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications.  He spoke about why he supported funding for public television.  Cuts had been rumored for the service about which he spoke.  He stated that programs like his helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, and opposed less positive messages in the media. He recited the lyrics from one of his songs.  The chairman of the subcommittee, John Pastore, was not familiar with Mr. Rogers’ work.  But after the presentation, the Senator said the testimony had given him “goosebumps” and he announced: “I think it’s wonderful.  Looks like you just earned $20 million.”


In 1983, the Supreme Court decided the use of VCRs did not infringe on the copyright of recorded material and it, therefore, could be used for commercial and public TV stations. Mr. Rogers’ testimony was important in the decision.  He said: “I have always felt that the technology that allows people to tape programs like mine and become more active in programming a family’s television life is a good thing.”


In 2003, the asteroid “26858 Misterrogers”  was named after Rogers by the International Astronomical Union.

In 2008, on what would have been Mr. Rogers’ 80thbirthday, his production company sponsored a “Won’t You Wear a Sweater Day.”  His fans were asked to wear their favorite sweater to celebrate the day. The event takes place annually on his date of birth: March 20.


On March 23, 2018, a commemorative US postage stamp was issued which pictured Mr. Roger and one of his show’s characters, King Friday XIII.


Mr. Rogers died of stomach cancer on February 27, 2003.  He was 74.


Quotes from Mr. Rogers:

“Love, or the lack of it, is the root of everything.”

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly the way we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

“I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger.  I like you just the way you are.  And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.  It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.”



***Can you match these names to the (above) pictures of Mr. Rogers’ friends?

Bill Nye, Julia Child, Koko, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Rita Moreno.








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The Name Game, #3



We have played this game twice before.  This 3rdedition is an “Athletes Only”version.  The game, as before, is quick, simple, and enjoyable. If given a few clues, can you guess the names of two famous people?  Remember: the LAST name of one famous person will always be the FIRST name of the other famous person.

For example: a) Who was the 3rdPresident of the United States?  And: b) Who was the President of the Confederacy during the American Civil War?  Answers: Thomas Jefferson (see above) and  Jefferson Davis.

This is a game, not a test for a grade or a contest to win money or prizes.  Give these 10 pairs of questions a try.  The answers will follow the 10 question combinations.  I hope you have some fun.


  1. a) Who won the most games as a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher? Also, he won the Cy Young Award 4 times.  And: b) He was a Hall of Fame catcher who played for the Red Sox and White Sox.


  1. a) Who struck out the most batters in a career (5,714), and pitched 7 no-hitters? And: b) He was the Phillies first baseman from 2004 – 2016, and he was the National League’s MVP in 2006?


  1. a) He was the Brooklyn Dodger Executive who signed Jackie Robinson to a Major League contract and, thus, integrated MLB. And: b) He had the most stolen bases in a season (130) and in a career (1,406)?


  1. a) He was the great Kansas City Royals 3rd He was the AL’s MVP in 1980.  And: b) He played MLB from 1992 to 2005, mostly for Cincinnati and Seattle.  His Grandfather, Father, and Brother also played MLB.


  1. a) He broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. And: b) He played MLB from 1997 to 2009 with the most time in Cincinnati. His Grandfather, Father, and brother also played MLB.


  1. a) He played for the Baltimore Orioles and won 16 Gold Gloves at third base. And: b) He is in his 14thyear having played for the New York Yankees and, now, the Seattle Mariners.


  1. a) He played Basketball for the Boston Celtics and won 11 Championships in a 13 year career.And: b) He plays in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder and has averaged a triple double in 2016-17 and 2017-18.


  1. a) He is the best “small forward” in the NBA’s history. And: b) He played basketball at small forward in LA with Magic and Kareem.


  1. a) He played in the NBA for 14 years (usually for the Golden State Warriors), was a fine scorer, and shot free throws underhand. And: b) Played 10 years in the NFL.  As a running back, he is 3rdin running yards for career. Gained 1,000+ yards every season; once had over 2,000 years in single year.  VERY fast and elusive.


10. “Sweetness” (his nickname) was the Chicago Bears greatest player ever. And: b) This NFL QB played 18 years and won a Super Bowl, but he was great in commercials and on  Saturday Night Live, too.





  1. Steve Carlton and Carlton Fisk
  2. Nolan Ryan and Ryan Howard
  3. Branch Rickey and Rickey Henderson
  4. George Brett and Bret Boone
  5. Hank Aaron and Aaron Boone
  6.  Brooks Robinson and Robinson Cano

7. Bill Russell and Russell Westbrook

8. LeBron James and James Worthy

9. Rick Barry and Barry Sanders

10) Walter Payton and Peyton Manning










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