Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coach Class

From Crooks & Liars:

Rhode Island Little League coach Dave Belisle delivered an incredibly inspirational and emotional speech to his Cumberland team after it was eliminated from the LLWS after an 8-7 loss to Chicago on Monday night.

I can so see my dad doing this.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fond Farewell

Carl Kasell retires from NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” the radio news quiz.  Panelist Roxanne Roberts tells the story.

We knew Carl Kasell’s last taping of “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me” was going to be a big deal, which is so not Carl. After 16 years as official judge and scorekeeper of the NPR quiz show, and 60 years in radio, he wanted his last show to be just like any other.

As if. Sprinkled throughout the hour were tributes from Stephen Colbert, Tom Hanks, Katie Couric and President Obama, which caused the 80-year-old veteran newsman and the 1,800 people packed into the Warner Theatre on Thursday to get all verklempt.

The crowd, as they say, went wild. We are talking public radio fans, so that meant standing ovations and loud applause, not underwear tossed onstage. At the end of the taping, they politely mobbed Carl like he was Springsteen or the Pope, thrusting items both cute (a Carl plush doll) and mildly creepy (a Carl face pillow) at him for autographs. I’m pretty sure I saw a guy in the second row tattoo Carl’s name across his heart.

[...]

So House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Dick Durbin, Jeff Flake and Kay Hagan all attended a tribute dinner for him Wednesday night, along with the “Wait Wait” family, former colleagues, NPR brass and even some of Carl’s pals from high school. Pelosi presented him with a flag that had been flown over the Capitol, besting (just barely) Durbin’s gift of Garrett’s famous Chicago popcorn.

The man of the hour was, characteristically modest. “Thank you so much,” he told the audience. “I’ve had so much fun. I enjoyed every moment of it.” But official retirement? Not so much. “What does it mean? Putting things aside, doing nothing? Are you kidding?” he said. “I can’t live that way. I’ve got to do something, somewhere, somehow.”

Carl is now officially “Wait Wait’s” Scorekeeper Emeritus, but will continue to record voice mail greetings for winners on the show. (He’s already done more than 2,000.) But — since we’re sharing here — you probably want to know whose voice is on Carl’s home answering machine.

His wife’s. Carl’s king of the castle, but Mary Ann is queen.

Best wishes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Standing Ovation

For digby for winning the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Heather “Digby” Parton grew up all over the world as the daughter of a peripatetic employee of the vast American Military Industrial complex. After a traditional 1970s-style misspent youth and fitful education, she landed in Hollywood and spent a couple of decades as an executive in the film industry, pushing the usual paper and making the usual deals. Out of a need to vent her frustration with the state of America’s politics, she began writing daily political analysis, punditry, random musings and snark on her website “Hullabaloo” in 2002. It soon turned into a full-time vocation, obsession, and, surprisingly, a new career.

[...]

Digby has written for mainstream publications such as Salon and New York Magazine among others but maintains the blog as her primary publishing platform, still churning out a half dozen posts a day, sparking debate and riding the political zeitgeist from her beach cottage in Santa Monica, California. She remains a prominent voice of progressive thought and online activism, often linked by others with one simple line: “What Digby said.”

They could not have made a better choice.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pulitzer Prizes

Congratulations to all the winners.

FICTION

Donna Tartt

“The Goldfinch” (Little, Brown and Company)

Finalists: Philipp Meyer, “The Son” (Ecco) ; Bob Shacochis, “The Woman Who Lost Her Soul” (Atlantic Monthly Press)

DRAMA:

Annie Baker

“The Flick”

Finalists: Madeleine George, “The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence”; Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), Jeanine Tesori (music), “Fun Home”

Missed it by this much.  (Assuming “this much” is a snowball’s chance in Hell.)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Super

I normally don’t write about my place of work, but this is worth noting.

Riding a cresting wave of accolades, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has been named the country’s top schools chief.

The School Superintendents Association announced in Nashville Thursday that Carvalho had won the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year. Carvalho, who attended the event with two school board members, said he was “humbled and honored” and as he accepted his award his first thoughts were of his father.

The award, given to one of the country’s 49 state superintendents of the year, is likely to further ever-present speculation about whether Carvalho will seek public office or a job on a bigger stage. But Carvalho said in an interview Thursday evening that he remains as focused as ever on working for the 350,000 students of Miami-Dade County.

“I love Miami-Dade and I am absolutely dedicated to this journey that we began five-and-a-half years ago,” he said. “What’s left to be done is much greater than what we’ve accomplished. The work is not done, nor am I.”

Carvalho said the award, which comes with no formal responsibilities, is an affirmation of the work of teachers, the school board and his staff and reflects the progress Miami-Dade’s schools have made since he took over in 2008. During the time, the district was facing massive budget cuts and the school board had just parted ways with Rudy Crew, with whom relations had soured. Crew, ironically, had been named National Superintendent of the Year in 2008.

Since then, Dade’s schools have boosted their graduation rates to their highest point, and test scores have steadily risen. In 2012, the district won the Broad Prize, the country’s highest award for urban school districts. The district has also won awards for marked improvement in Advanced Placement participation and performance.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eleven O’Clock Number

In musical theatre, there’s a tradition of having a song that really brings home the show.  It’s called the eleven o’clock number because it usually comes along at the climax, and that’s late in the second act.

In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama, like many of his predecessors, hit the high point when he acknowledged the service of Sgt. Cory Remsberg.

Standing ovation.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Good Reading

The 2013 Jon Swift Memorial Roundup has been posted.  Backstory here.

Jon Swift - Al WeiselOur late and much missed comrade in blogging, journalist and writer Al Weisel, revered and admired across the bandwidth as the “reasonable conservative” blogger Modest Jon Swift, was a champion of the lesser known and little known bloggers working tirelessly in the shadows… One of his projects was a year-end Blogger Round Up. Al/Jon asked bloggers far and wide, famous and in- and not at all, to submit a link to their favorite post of the past twelve months and then he sorted, compiled, blurbed, hyperlinked and posted them on his popular blog. His round-ups presented readers with a huge banquet table of links to work many of has had missed the first time around and brought those bloggers traffic and, more important, new readers they wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed. It may not have been the most heroic endeavor, but it was kind and generous and a lot of us owe our continued presence in the blogging biz to Al.

If you’re a regular reader here, you will see a lot of familiar bylines of bloggers I respect, admire, and try to emulate in quality.  And if you don’t know them, take this opportunity to read them and discover their work.  Frankly, that’s how a lot of readers first came to this little blog, and I’m grateful that Al/Jon made an effort to promote the smaller ones.  And, of course, thanks to Batocchio of Vagabond Scholar for keeping the flame alive.

For the record, this post from last August was my contribution.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tributes

It’s expected that a lot of people in positions of power, both in the past and the present, are paying their respects to the life and work of Nelson Mandela.

And it’s also expected that some people hope the rest of us forget that they once labeled him as a terrorist and threat to decent civilization.

Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

As Maine Goes…

Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) is running for governor of Maine.  And, as he told the world in a column in the Portland Press Herald, he’s gay.

When I entered the race for governor, I did so because I love the state of Maine and am tired of seeing it dragged in the wrong direction. There was never any question that it would be a tough race, but I know I have the vision, the experience and the commitment to lead Maine forward.

Once I jumped to an early lead in the polls, I knew it was only a matter of time before individuals and organizations intent on re-creating the uncertainty that led to our current governor’s election three years ago would start their attacks. Already my opponents have tried to blatantly distort my support for a woman’s right to choose and my tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans.

So I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?”

That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.

I’m old enough to remember when this kind of news would doom a campaign in utero.  Hell, that would have probably doomed a campaign twenty years ago.  Now it’s being treated as no big deal, which is as it should be.

The only reason I’m paying attention to it is because, despite the rampant bigotry and fearmongering from some people (ahem John Boehner and his chickenshit hallelujah chorus of Jesus-shouters), being openly gay is rapidly becoming a non-issue to the vast majority of people in this country who aren’t obsessed with the sex lives of people they don’t know.  (That doesn’t explain the Kardashians, but then, nothing does.)

I don’t know anything about Mr. Michaud or his politics.  Until I read this piece, I’d never heard of him.  So I don’t know if he’d be a good governor for Maine or not.  But I do know that he’s already made an ally out of me and a lot of other people by writing this piece.  And I fervently hope for the day when he or anyone else will not have to write one like it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Short Takes

Global markets are jittery over the shutdown.

Violent outbreaks in Egypt.

Polls show public blames the GOP for the shutdown.

High winds and thunderstorms rattle the Northeast.

Congratulations to the Nobel Prize winners for medicine.

Tropical Update: The little disturbance is dithering in the east Atlantic.

The Tigers are one loss away from being eliminated after losing to the A’s 6-3.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Short Takes

President Obama gets John McCain to back his plan on Syria.

DEA phone database bigger than NSA.

CBS and Time Warner make up.

Diana Nyad finally makes the swim from Cuba to Key West.

R.I.P. David Frost, 74, interviewer who got Nixon to apologize for Watergate.

Tropical Update: We still have two disturbances worth watching in the Atlantic.

The Tigers made up for their loss to Cleveland on Sunday by shutting out the Red Sox 3-0 on Monday.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sixty-Five Years

June 16, 1948 was a Wednesday.  It was a pleasant day in St. Louis, Missouri; the high was about 78 with a little haze left over from the morning fog along the river.  It was a nice day for a wedding.

The young bride and groom came to the Church of St. Michael and St. George on Wydown Boulevard for the ceremony, with the two families and close friends gathering.  The bride’s younger sister was the maid of honor and the groom’s twin brother was his best man.  After the brief Episcopalian service, the bridal party went to the bride’s parents home for a small reception, and then the newlyweds left on their wedding trip to Chicago, staying at the Blackstone Hotel.  Then they went on to their new home in Princeton where he was finishing up his studies before moving on to Houston, Texas, where he would take up a job in the bag business.

The first child, a daughter, arrived the following year, followed the next year by a son.  Then, after moving on to Dallas, a third child, the second son, arrived in 1952.  Shortly thereafter they moved again, this time back to St. Louis, where in 1956 the fourth and last child, another son, completed the family.

Then in 1957 the family moved again, this time to Perrysburg, Ohio, and there they stayed, the kids growing up in a big house with a big yard, lots of friends and things to do, and the usual joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies, that come along with any family.  Dogs, cats, birds, bikes, camp, school, Little League, dancing school, tennis lessons, swim meets, all of the cacophony and organized chaos that fits in the wayback of the Ford Country Squire for trips to the lake and the ski slopes.

All too soon came the departures: college, weddings, new worlds for the kids to explore, new lives to lead, but always knowing they had a place to come home to, a phone number — TRinity 4-7824 — to call.  Over the years there have been bright days and dark nights.  There have been additions and losses, pain and laughter.  After all, it has been life.  And through it all Mom and Dad were there for us and for themselves.

Trying to put into words what a child feels when reflecting on the lives of the people who brought him to this world is not easy.  And knowing that among many of my friends, the simple fact that both of my parents are still alive and well is a rare blessing.  So I will make it very simple: on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the journey that has brought me and my sister and brothers to life, I say thank you and I love you.

Nancy and Phil 2011

Tuesday, February 12, 2013