CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Made For Each Other”

 For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation. 

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

 The film, Made For Each Other, was not the most successful film in 1939.

Competing with the likes of The Wizard Of Oz, Gone With The Wind, and other classics, it was not a surprise when this film did not make a ton of money upon its release.

However, it is significant and deserves a viewing for many reasons.

Carole Lombard is probably one of the most underrated stars of the 20th century.

In her short life she was one of the top dramatic actresses in the first few years of “talkies” and, in the 1930s, was one of the most successful comedic actresses of the time period.

In 1939, the year Made For Each Other was produced, Lombard was the highest paid female actress and the entire industry.

Ironically, at the height of her comedic fame she decided that she would be taking more seriously as an actress if she returned to dramatic roles, as she did in this film.

It looked like this career decision would turn out to be the right one as critics lauded Lombard’s performance.  Sadly, it turned out to be her last great dramatic role.

Despite her death at the tender age of 33, Lombard had one of the most diverse and interesting careers in the “Golden Era” of Hollywood. The year 1939 was a pivotal time for Carol — both as an actress as well as for herself personally and for the nation.  We’ll be focusing more on her great work as an actress and as a humanitarian in a future blog entry here at the “Showplace.”

Stewart, meanwhile, was just beginning to mark his legacy and, in this film, was still developing his famous on-screen persona that would make him the third most popular male movie star of all time.

One of Stewart’s biggest traits was his slow, drawn-out delivery – almost as if he is truly reflecting on his lines before he says them. Alfred Hitchcock used this skill to perfection in his thriller films starring Stewart as the actor’s deliberate stutter often caused tension and anxiety at key moments.  Stewart’s “stammering” is something that is barely noticeable in his earliest works.

In Scott Eyman’s “Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart,” Jimmy points out that in his early film roles he was all “hands and feet.”

Knowing these facts, it’s very interesting to see his on-screen performance in “Made” and to watch these traits as the actor says his lines and maneuvers his way around the set.

Stewart had just starred in Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You and would also be performing in the classics Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and Destiny Rides Again later this same year.

It’s fascinating to go back and watch both of these iconic actors’ performances in this film, knowing what was to come down the road for both of them.

You can see Made For Each Other starring Carol Lombard and Jimmy Stewart this Monday at 2:30 p.m. on RCN TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 

 

A Huge Success Story

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

You know the brand name Snapple, right?  Did you know that when the product was introduced, it just tanked.  Quaker Oats paid millions for the product and, due to its lack of success, sold it for $300,000 to Triarc Companies in 1997.  That is where 1970 Lafayette graduate, Mike Weinstein, came into the picture as the CEO of Snapple and within three years orchestrated the sale to Cadbury Schweppes for $1.45 billion!

That story is now the first case taught at the Harvard Business School.  I interviewed Mike Weinstein this past week on Primetime PARDS.  He has a good story to tell starting at the 4:10 mark in this YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al2Y8kzw64A&feature=youtu.be

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. It is a rare sight when the average golfer can watch the PGA pros hack around a golf course, much like we do. The US Open challenge at Winged Foot this week looked eerily similar to shots hit in my golf league every week.  It is almost a pleasure to see the pros struggle one time a year and then, much like us, complain vociferously about the unfairness of the course conditions.  It’s music to my ears.
  1. As a kid, I used to try to emulate the swing and basket catch of Willie Mays, the passing and dribbling skills of Bob Cousy, and the passing style of Norm Van Brocklin. I am not sure any kid can emulate the golf swings of Bryson DeChambeau and Matthew Wolff.  Their swings are so unique; it will be interesting to see if anyone attempts to seriously mimic them.
  1. I wrote this last week: “Speaking of irony, New England QB Cam Newton looked terrific while former New England QB Tom Brady looked average for Tampa Bay (2 interceptions; 1 touchdown).” I would write just the opposite this week – Brady was exceptional in Tampa Bay’s win over Carolina and Newton could not lead New England to a win over Seattle.
  1. The Eagles now appear to be weak on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Their offense improved a bit and their defense deteriorated this past week against the Rams.  The good news is the NFL East does not look very strong so there is still hope.
  1. Check out “Gary’s Guesses” from the past week! That’s right, a record-setting week, only missing the Monday Night game: 15 correct out of 16 games!

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 15-1; OVERALL- 26-6 – 81%)                 

Jacksonville               

Pittsburgh

Minnesota

Atlanta

New England

San Francisco

Philadelphia

Cleveland

Buffalo

Indianapolis

LA Chargers

Arizona

Seattle

Tampa Bay

New Orleans

Kansas City

 

 

Win One For…Me

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I have to be honest with you. It has not been a good year for those trying to be a solid proponent for sports.

The professional ranks, the collegiate levels … heck, even at the scholastic and youth levels, there have been a lot of ugly conversations, controversies and questionable decisions – to say the least – that have made it extremely difficult to try to advocate its role in society.

I’ve heard more people say over the last few years and even many more fans over the last several months that say they are giving up sport “X” or are no longer following a league or a specific level of play.  Unlike in the past, when say, Major League Baseball went on strike and people said they were never going back, but many did … I think we are in a much different territory right now.

Here are a few examples….

Approximately half of Pennsylvania residents are upset that scholastic sports were approved by the PIAA and by a majority of school districts in the Commonwealth.  One of the most telling statements I’ve heard from a local Lehigh Valley resident recently was, “I hope I’m wrong, but if I’m right, and the coronavirus can be spread by playing sports and people could die…I’m not alright with that.”

A couple weeks ago, a D1 college football player (BJ Foster) at a major university (Texas) quit his team MID-GAME because he was upset at his lack of playing time during a BLOWOUT win, and was mad because his rarely used backup was actually getting a chance to play for a few minutes.  So much for being a good team player!

I’ve also heard many people say extremely negative thoughts about the top leaders in different professional sports. One more comical line I heard recently from someone who has sworn off attending/following sports said that “being clueless” must be a new requirement to be a major sports commissioner.

I have tried to rebut angry fans’ arguments and look to promote that there are still great attributes found in the various levels of athletics.  Sportsmanship, character building, socialization and building teamwork are just some of the things that I have mentioned to make cases for the wonderful side-effects that sports offers.

Then I opened up my laptop and read a headline I saw recently about a professional athlete…

“Jason Peters to Eagles: Pay Me More to Play Left Tackle

You know, nothing really destroys an argument of trying to build unity, teamwork and unselfishness than a sports article that mentions dollar amounts throughout the first five paragraphs.

For those who don’t follow the Eagles closely, here’s the skinny on the situation.

A rash of injuries at the left tackle position made it clear that Peters would be the most logical choice to play the position.  He has had the most experience than anyone else – by far – currently healthy on the roster.  But in order to do so, the offensive lineman wants to be paid more money by lining up ten feet to the left of his current position.

Granted, when you have a right-handed quarterback, the left tackle position is more crucial than other offensive line positions in that it is the most common place where a defensive end or linebacker will try to blindside the quarterback.

But here’s a summary of what Peters’ argument sounds like:

     I’m all in for this team and really want them to win games but even the slightest adjustment by me that would dramatically make our team better for the next couple months is only worth my time and effort if you are going to reward me monetarily and give me more money than what’s on the contract that I have already signed.  Otherwise I’m perfectly fine with a far less capable person left to try to defend our franchise quarterback and not have our team do nearly as well.

Not exactly a quote you’d hear from Vince Lombardi or Walter Payton.

I have always been a proponent of athletes trying to earn as much money as they can during their playing careers. They put their bodies … and sometimes their lives … on the line.  Despite coaches, owners, league presidents and everyone else involved in sports, none of it can happen without players.

But responses and actions like Foster and Peters are becoming more and more commonplace in all of sports. As a beat reporter I have covered Former Eagle Greats like Brian Dawkins, Reggie White and others that would be absolutely ashamed of a direct quote above like the one above and the subsequent sediments that would linger in their locker room.

And while I hear many solid reasons for playing scholastic sports this fall, one of the most frequent that really turns me off to this position is a parent saying that his son must play football this fall because his son needs “better highlight reel material” than what he got last year so he can attract more lucrative college offers.

Honestly, it’s becoming harder and harder to those who are trying to promote the positive aspects that athletics can provide when the anti-sports debaters are constantly getting more and more evidence that debunks its very value in society.

Or maybe being a team player and doing what’s right, isn’t very important in life anymore?

 

It’s “Miller’s Time”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

When the “RCN SportsTalk” show launched over 15 years ago, one of my first ideas was to brainstorm a list of people I thought that were extremely popular sports celebrities from the Lehigh Valley – which, when the program started, was the only place that the program aired – and would make for a very special night of television viewing.

That initial list consisted of about 55 people.  Through the great work of the show’s producer (and perhaps an even greater amount of luck and good fortune), within a few years we had nearly all of those people from that list on our program.  

A few ‘stragglers’ who either had time conflicts with being at our studio on a Thursday night or guests who were only available at a time when our studio was occupied with other projects kept those individuals from being on SportsTalk.  However, by year six of the program, we had all but two of those people from the list on our show at least once.

One of them was Larry Miller – widely regarded as THE greatest basketball player to ever come out of the Valley.

(Incidentally/ironically, the only other person from that original list who has not been on the show and I began a very special friendship a number of years ago when I contacted him and he told me why he did no longer does any public appearances.  It is actually a wonderful story about why he has NOT been on the program – one that we still have fun with to this day. But that’s a story for another blog entry.  After all, it is “Larry Miller’s time,” which is the name of his new book that is being released this month.)

I have actually been close to having Larry on the show several times, although, up until recently, he has rejected every single media request offered to him over the last 40 years, from sports newspapers, radio stations and major television networks from all across the country.

A couple times over the last 15 years, we thought we had a commitment from him to appear, only to have him change his mind.  One such occurrence was actually through a mutual friend of Larry and myself – Joe Murphy, who was also an RCN employee who just passed away around this time a year ago.

Larry had also allegedly agreed to appear at special nights for his high school alma mater – Catasauqua High School – only to again, change his mind and be a no-show.  While he’s always been easy to find at local Catty establishments, he has shielded himself from the limelight – a trait that has stayed with him even when he was playing professional basketball in the late 1960s and early 70s.

But now with a new book out, he is looking to make the media rounds and discuss some very revealing experiences about his playing days, from the reason why you started playing basketball in this area and the pride he feels for this region, through his days at the University of North Carolina, the ABA and the highs and lows he’s gone through following his playing career. I literally have 15 years worth of questions that I have stored up for him and can’t wait to address as many of those topics as time will allow.

At least, I’m hoping to get a chance to ask those questions. Tune in this Thursday at 7 p.m. on RCN TV to find out if I finally got that chance … and if the “time” is finally right for Miller.

Let the NFL Begin!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Despite not having any preseason games, all 32 NFL teams kicked off their official season this week.  Obviously, it remains to be seen if they can get through the season without having to shut down.  NHL hockey, NBA basketball, and MLB baseball have done a pretty good job so far, but nothing compares to the lack of social distancing in the game of football.

You should be aware that I am writing this Sunday morning before the games (I know the Chiefs won on Thursday, but I would have picked them to win anyway).  So before the first weekend and Monday night games are played, here is how I see the divisions unfolding:

AFC

East

  • Buffalo – They finished second to New England last year with Brady.  This is their year to shine.  QB Josh Allen is the key.
  • New England – It could be a big mistake to pick against Belichick.  There’s no Brady, but there is Cam Newton.  I’m guessing he will not stay healthy for the entire season.  If he does, you will continue to despise the Patriots.
  • Miami – This team is a work in progress and progress should happen this year.  Is Tua Tagovailoa (I hope I don’t have to type this again) their next Dan Marino?  He could be and the Dolphins might surprise.
  • Jets – They may as well plan a “Celebration” of their tenth anniversary of not making the playoffs.

North

  1. Baltimore – LaMar Jackson is the real deal.  He was the NFL MVP and the Ravens are very strong on defense.  The ingredients here could win them a Super Bowl. 
  2. Pittsburgh – They are always dangerous, but a bit old and injury prone.  Everyone says Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, but, at 38, can he remain healthy in this league?

  3. Cleveland – No team causes me more grief for Gary’s Guesses than the Browns.  It got to the point where I just picked them to lose every week.  That should not be the case this year.  Baker Mayfield makes them better and they might be better than the Steelers (am I really writing this?)

  4. Cincinnati – 2-14 last year says a great deal about this team.  They took LSU QB Joe Burrow as their top pick, but it should be a tough learning process for the rookie with this team.

South

  • Indianapolis – Philip Rivers is no longer in San Diego and is reunited with head coach Frank Reich and two of the Colts’ assistants.  The sooner he gets comfortable with his teammates, the better this team can become.
  • Tennessee – I’ll be honest – I was going to pick the Texans here, but their Thursday night showing was not impressive at all.  The Titans have an excellent ground game.  They were 9-7 last year and found a steady QB in Ryan Tannehill.
  • Houston – The Texans are better than what they showed on Thursday night.  Deshaun Watson at QB makes them a contender, but the offense did not look good against the Chiefs, especially in protecting their QB.  That has to improve.
  • Jacksonville – This team was just not good offensively last year.  QB Gardner Minishew made them better after replacing Nick Foles.  Jay Gruden (OC) and Ben McAdoo (QB coach) have the experience to make them better.

West

  • Kansas City – Based on Thursday night’s performance, the Chiefs look better than last year if that’s possible.  Patrick Mahomes now can rely on a running game and the defensive line looks awesome.  Andy Reid will be smiling again this year on his way to a second Super Bowl.
  • Denver – Take your pick from here on in this division.  Denver’s defense is not strong.  They could finish second or last.
  • San Diego – QB Philip Rivers is gone and Tyrod Taylor is inserted.  The receivers he has available to him are very talented.  Combine that with a strong defense and they could certainly jump over Denver.
  • Las Vegas – If you are a betting person, what better team to put some money on?  Jon Gruden moves his team to a new home and brings former Dallas great TE Jason Witten with him.  This team looks like a last place finisher to me.

NFC

East

  • Dallas – I know – it hurts me to write it, but I have felt the Cowboys only needed a coach that really motivates his guys and they have it in Mike McCarthy, formerly of the Packers.  He will make them better defensively and that will make them good enough to win the division.  I hope I’m wrong.
  • Philadelphia – They won the East last year, but their offensive line is certainly suspect due to injuries.  Carson Wentz needs time to pick out his receivers; if he has it, the Eagles might repeat as East champs.  Also, the linebacker corps looks somewhat suspect.  E-A-G-L-E-S! (Just practicing).
  • Giants – They have a new coach – Joe Judge.  He is tough and coached with Bill Belichick and Nick Saban.  I really want the Giants to do well because I want Saquon Barkley to have a great year.  For that to happen, QB Daniel Jones must be better this year.
  • Washington – Ron Rivera will make the team with no nickname better, but it takes time.  They could improve this year and the record might not illustrate that.  Rivera is now also fighting a cancer diagnosis and may not be at full strength during the season.

North

  • Minnesota The Vikings were not better than the Packers last year.  I think they are better this year.  QB Kirk Cousins is a veteran (9 years) with some outstanding receivers and the Vikings have a very strong defense. They will win the North.
  • Green Bay – 13-3 last year is certainly a great NFL regular season and much of the credit always goes to Aaron Rodgers.  He’s back and, if he stays healthy, he is as good as any QB in the league.  The Packers win close games.  If that trend continues, they will win the division again.
  • Chicago – I like the Bears; they should have been in the NFC Championship game last year (remember the Cody Parker missed field goal?).  Their defense should be better than last year and they were very good last year.  Yet they don’t seem to win the big games.
  • Detroit – 3-12-1 is bad.  The Lions were bad last year.  QB Matt Stafford’s injury caused him to miss half a season and the Lions defense is just not good.  The team needs to rally around HC Matt Patricia or he will be gone.

South

  • New Orleans – Are the Saints ever bad?  They were 13-3 last year and in the last three years, they have won more regular season NFL games than any other team.  Former Eagle Malcolm Jenkins is now a Saint and one of the best safeties in the league on the field and in the locker room.  He will motivate a team that is always ready to play.
  • Tampa Bay – They now have Tom Brady, right?  Enough said.
  • Atlanta – This team is just not good defensively and that means losses in the NFL.  They were 7-9 last year and I do not see improvement in their record.
  • Carolina – Talk about a one-man team – As Christian McCaffrey goes so goes the Panthers offense.  He can do it all, but can he do enough to win games for this team which really struggles on the defensive side of the ball?  No.

West

  • San Francisco – They won the NFC title last year (13-3) and had a 10-point lead on the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.  Coach Kyle Shanahan proved he was up to the job and QB Jimmy Garoppolo followed in the footsteps of successful QBs under Shanahan.  Garoppolo should be better in year two.  And that makes the 49ers better.
  • Seattle – Pete Carroll has eight  consecutive winning seasons.  Almost their entire team is back from an 11-5 season. Their defensive secondary is much improved and they still have QB Russell Wilson, a proven winner.  Coach Carroll gets his ninth consecutive winning season.
  • LA Rams – The Rams will play in a brand new stadium and, despite the absence of a big crowd, should have some extra incentive this season.  Sean McVay appears to be a very good young coach.  Their offensive line was decimated with injuries last year and they still finished 9-7.  Give QB Jared Goff some blocking and the Rams could surprise.
  • Arizona – At 5-10-1 last year, the Cardinals struggled.  They appear, however, to come into this season with a very potent offense with two excellent running backs, a stable of receivers, and Kyler Murray at QB.  This team will cause defenses many problems; they hope their defense does the same.

 ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Isn’t it ironic (a nicer word than a Philadelphia fan would use) that neither the Phillies nor the Eagles can hold a lead?
  1. What was worse on Sunday watching an inept Eagles offensive line or the downhill performance of Carson Wentz?  Might the two be related?
  1. Speaking of irony, New England QB Cam Newton looked terrific while former New England QB Tom Brady looked average for Tampa Bay (two interceptions; one touchdown).
  1. Dustin Johnson won $15 million by winning the FedEx Cup last weekend.  That money used to be deferred into a retirement fund, but now the winner gets $14 million with $1 million deferred.  Rory McElroy and Tiger Woods are the only ones to win the Cup twice.  When they won, the prize was $10 million.  $9 million of Tiger’s winnings were deferred each time.  Just from that event, he has an $18 million retirement fund! 
  1. Congrats to the Notre Dame HS and Northwestern HS football teams.  They both won the first two football games of the 2020 season. 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 11-5; OVERALL- 11-5 – 69%)

Cleveland

Tennessee

Buffalo

Pittsburgh

Dallas

Indianapolis

Green Bay

San Francisco

Chicago

LA Rams

Tampa Bay

Arizona

Kansas City

Baltimore

Seattle

New Orleans

 

Reflections & Upcoming Shows

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

As we talked about last time here at “The Shop,” the long-running tradition of The Great Allentown Fair was canceled this year due to precautions caused by Covid-19.

RCN has sponsored a number of popular events at the Farmerama Theater, including two of our “RCN SportsTalk” shows each year for over a decade now.

Like we did this summer with the canceled basketball tournaments, we present some of the never-before-seen pictures that were taken at some of the previous “SportsTalk” shows at the Fair that were never published.

Enjoy the memories! I’m very much looking forward to creating new ones at the Fairgrounds in 2021.

PROGRAMMING NOTE:

If you missed last week’s edition of RCN Sports Talk (which is now available for free to RCN customers through RCN on demand), we had sports doctors and athletic trainers from school districts within the RCN viewing area discussing the pros and cons of playing sports during the pandemic. Additionally they had tips for student-athletes to stay in shape during lockdowns, ways parents can help their kids adjust physically and mentally to getting back into regular sports practices, truths and myths about COVID-19, ways to help kids returning to more normal socialization events and many more important facts and information during this critical time. It was a very topical conversation and already I’ve gotten quite a bit of positive feedback about the show and their opinions. Be sure to check it out!!!

And coming up…

… Our guests will include Frank Majikes, District 2 Chair for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area and PIAA Board President, to talk about current scholastic sports issues and the return to play.

We’ll also have Larry Miller – widely regarded as the greatest basketball player to come out of the Lehigh Valley area – discussing his tremendous playing career and extremely private life over the last four decades.

Hall of Fame boxing announcer and ESPN broadcaster Al Bernstein will be on to talk about current sports topics, his legendary career and his new show that is debuting on RCN TV this fall.

Our upcoming guest list also includes the league presidents from the East Penn Conference and Colonial League to explain the decision to play high school sports this fall and talk about the ways school districts are trying to keep people safe at these events.

Plus, a few more very special guests, including local coaches and players, discuss their return to participation in full-time athletics during the Coronavirus pandemic. Keep checking back to “The Sports Talk Shop” for more details.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Algiers”

 For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation. 

 Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances. 

The 1938 film, Algiers, has the double distinction of not only being a successful movie upon its release but also in spawning several other projects and catchphrases that have survived to this day.

The film grossed over $150,000, which was not only a high mark for the time period, but also more than doubled its net gain after total production costs.

Charles Boyer played the lead, Pepe Le Moko, which was also the title name of the original novel and a French-produced film that was made prior to Algiers.

According to TCM.com, Boyer was not fond of this movie for two big reasons.

First of all, both producer Walter Wanger and director John Cromwell made a conscious decision in trying to mirror the French film to their English-speaking version, complete with using the same music score and set designs.

Furthermore, they insisted that Boyer copy the style of Jean Gabin, the original actor who portrayed the lead in the initial French version, and refused to let Boyer stray far from the original intention for his character.

Boyer was critical of the lack of creativity during the production process but grew to hate this role even more as he became known for the line that would follow him for the rest of his career: “Come with me to zee Casbah.”

As the popularity for that line grew, Boyer felt demeaned as an actor as the line was repetitively and increasingly lampooned in the years that followed.

According to several sources, Boyer’s ‘Pepe Le Moko’ character led to the creation of the popular Looney Tunes’ star, Pepe Le Pew, modeled after Charles’ delivery.  Looney Tunes specifically parodied Algiers in an episode entitled, “The Cat’s Bah,” 15 years after the film’s release.

Ironically, much like “Play it again, Sam,” that is still linked with Humphrey Bogart to this day, Boyer didn’t actually say the “Casbah” line himself.

The movie also marked the first major role for Hedy Lamarr, who embarked on a 28-year movie career, starring in 30 films.

According to “Film History: An International Journal” by David Pierce, the screenwriters of Casablanca cited Algiers as the inspiration for their film with the original intention of starring Lamarr in the now legendary role of Ilsa Lund. In 1942 Lamarr was contracted to MGM, who would not release her from her contract, so Ingrid Bergman ended up getting the female lead and Casablanca went on to make cinematic history.

Do you think Hedy Lamarr could have done a better job than Bergman as Ilsa Lund?  Do you think Boyer’s performance really sparked the inspiration for Pepe Le Pew?  You can speculate for yourself after watching Algiers this Monday, September 7, at 2:30 p.m. on RCN TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 

 

 

 

Virus Vacation

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here it is the start of September and my wife and I have yet to take a vacation.  For us, that is unheard of and we would love to remedy the situation.  I am going to take next week off, but, in all honesty, we have nowhere to go.  Those words are very difficult to write.

If you have read some of my blogs, you probably know we love cruising and we love the islands.  The cruise industry has been devastated by the COVID virus and we are fearful about getting on a plane and flying in this environment.

So, all I can do is reflect back on one of my very favorite vacation stories – our introduction to Antigua.

I ran into one of my graduate school fellow students at a Lafayette basketball game years ago.  As we chatted, he mentioned that his family had a home in Antigua.  I asked if he rented it out and he said they would be happy to rent it to me.  I discussed it with my wife and friends whom we travel with and, after some research, we decided to go.  It turned out to be quite the experience.

Upon arrival in Antigua, we were met by a driver who had been recommended to us.  Our desire was to rent a car for the week so he told us it would take a while for me to get a license.  He recommended dropping us off at the vehicle office for the car and the license.  He would then take the wives to the home and unload the luggage.  They could settle in before we arrived.  That sounded like a good idea.  It was not.

The car rental and licensing process took about 90 minutes.  The driver came back so we could follow him to the house.  We walked up the driveway, entered the front door, only to be met by two women who appeared frozen in time.  The suitcases had not been touched and both our wives had barely stepped inside the house.  Something was, obviously, wrong!

We were told that when they entered the house, hundreds of lizards ran up the curtains and the walls.  They were petrified.  Being men, we thought we could handle this dilemma.  We, too, were wrong.  Our friends were going to stay in the guest house, so we decided to check out their accommodations.  As soon as we opened the door, hundreds of lizards scurried up the walls and the curtains.  The ladies shrieked and we may have silently shrieked, too.

I suggested that we go look for a place to eat and discuss the situation.  That caused even more consternation.  In Antigua, you drive on the left side of the road.  No problem.  I could certainly handle that.  What I had trouble handling was avoiding the chickens, horses, and cows that were in the middle of the road.  Adding to my displeasure was the backseat screams warning me to watch out for the chickens, horses, and cows.  I pulled over and suggested that I was not going to spend all week being yelled at while driving.

We found a place to eat and checked out the menu.  The prices appeared to be outrageous.  Almost every meal had a price in the 70’s or higher.  After each price, were the letters EC.  We did not know at that time that American dollars were about one-third EC dollars.  A $90 EC meal would cost about $30 in our money.  Our initial thought was that we could never afford to eat here for a week.  I know – we should have done some research.  We did not eat there.

In no uncertain terms, our wives told us they would not stay at the house.  They insisted we find a resort.  Luckily down the road from the house was the Rex Halcyon Resort.  We walked onto the grounds just as they were having a welcoming party for the guests.  Since we looked like guests, and they thought we were guests, we, of course, ate like guests (starving guests).  Our plates of hors d’oeuvres were certainly larger than anyone who was actually staying there.

We went to the front office, asked to see a room, and decided to stay there for the week.  We easily transferred the luggage, found a driver for the week, and returned our rental car.  As the week progressed, we met a woman who wanted to sell her limited timeshare (12 years, not perpetuity) on the same property for $800 total.  It had two bedrooms, two baths, two balconies, a living room, and a kitchen.  Since we were having a wonderful week and despite my despising timeshares, we and our friends decided to buy 12 years of vacations for $400 apiece.  It was a no-brainer.

We used the timeshare every year after the purchase, bought another week two years later for $500 and spent the next ten years vacationing for two weeks in Antigua for only a $900 investment and yearly maintenance fees which we also split.  We had the most wonderful yearly vacations!

After we returned home that first year, I informed my classmate why we did not stay at his place.  He informed me that had we opened the patio doors, moved around a little, all of the lizards would have left the place and we would have had a week of peace and serenity.

But for the next 11 years, our friends, my wife, and I were very happy we did not know that.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Speaking of vacations, I noticed that the Tour de France started this week. My wife and I were invited to dine with the captain on a cruise ship one year.  I wondered why he chose us.  He discovered I was a sports broadcaster and he wanted to discuss the bike race and, more specifically, America’s top cyclist, Greg Lemond.  I had virtually no knowledge of either, but I faked it and thoroughly enjoyed the escargots and lobster tail.  I think I fooled the captain.
  1. Isn’t it perplexing when the Phillies and the Flyers games overlap one another? I want to watch both.  Many of us do.
  1. Can someone explain to me why some support only the police and some others support only Black Lives Matter? I support both – good police officers who do their job every day the right way and peaceful BLM participants who recognize we desperately need changes made.  They are not mutually exclusive.
  1. As of now, high school football will return to RCN TV Sports on October 2. It will be quite different.  I have been informed that I will have to call the game from our studio, not at the stadium.  I am very apprehensive about being able to do that.  If you watch, be kind.
  1. No blog next week – Have a safe, happy, and healthy Labor Day!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Fair is a fair…

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

This week is, without a doubt, one of the most hectic weeks of the year for me…

…traditionally.

For over a hundred years The Great Allentown Fair usually starts at some point this week and runs through Labor Day and into early next week.

I usually host/emcee a number of events during the week from the Fair’s Farmerama Theater that RCN has proudly sponsored for decades.  In addition, I produce at least two of our “RCN SportsTalk” programs from the Fairgrounds, featuring special guests, cheerleaders, marching band and sometimes dog trainers, lumberjacks, high-wire acts, Fair queens and a whole host of other colorful personalities over the years that have been a part of our shows.

Trying to get all of these people  — successfully — onto the fairgrounds, accounting for ridiculously limited parking spaces, accounting for people losing their credentials, security guards claiming they weren’t told to allow guests in to be on a show that day and a whole host of other potential things that could go wrong, has always made this week very… interesting, to say the least, each and every year.

My family usually sees very little of me during this week – the most they’ll see of me is when they stop by and watch some of the shows that I am hosting at the Farmerama.

It is also not a very easy week as, on top of putting these shows together, it also happens to be the opening for the high school football season, which is perhaps the most watched entity for our viewers during the entire year.

I’m usually in contact this week with coaches, athletic directors, administrators and other personnel, scrambling to put all the football teams’ information together, like rosters, correct uniform numbers – with the emphasis on “correct” – and much more information needed to maintain our usual high quality for broadcasts.  Another whole host of things that usually goes wrong during this week, does, and it is without a doubt, the most hectic week trying to prepare for that weekend’s football games … more than any other regular season game.

And both events happen in the exact…same…week!

But not in 2020. 

It’s safe to say that I won’t be simply putting my feet up on my desk this year and taking it easy this week, as we are putting together a busy and exciting month coming up for the “RCN SportsTalk” programs in September, as scholastic sports go through an interesting transition from lockdown to a staggered return over the next few weeks.

I attended the Great Allentown Fair as a kid and it holds a very special place in my heart.  I enjoy the experience tremendously each year and, although the entire week of activities has been canceled this year due to the pandemic, I’m very much looking forward to the challenges that will await me for 2021.

That being said, I have to be completely honest with you and say that my blood pressure will probably be a little lower this Labor Day weekend, and the next seven days will not be nearly as stressful and as frantic for me as they usually are. But again, I sincerely hope to be working just as frantically 12 months from now when both the Fair and the traditional start of high school football season return to their normal time slots as well next year.

In celebration of the Great Allentown Fair – a tradition over 160 years in the making – check back to “The Shop” next week for a special surprise!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: With high school sports now officially back on for all sports in the Lehigh Valley, we will have a timely look at some of the fall sports teams as they prepare for their 2020 campaigns.  Our guests will include the defending District 11 champions from girls field hockey and the girls and boys cross-country squads on this Thursday’s show.

Tune in to hear more about the upcoming season!

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: The Fabulous Dorseys

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.  Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

One of the great things about the internet is that young people can rediscover things from previous eras and stumble across genres they might never get to experience otherwise.  Glenn Miller, Henry James, Count Basie and other stars of old standards from the big band era are now readily available to audiences on XM/Sirius Radio’s Junction; and other outlets as more and more young people are finding these golden classics for the first time.

Heck, there was even a report of a local football team using a polka song as its theme music last fall.

But no look into the music of the 1930s and & 40s would be complete without a serious discussion about Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. Their accomplishments, creations and personal feud are all prominently featured in the 1946 film, “The Fabulous Dorseys.”  Part documentary, part fiction and a surprising number of well-performed comedic lines make up this very entertaining film about two of the swing time era’s greatest legends.

The film spans the time from the boys’s upbringing in a small Pennsylvania town to their dominance around the world with their various musical masterpieces.

Jimmy Dorsey, primarily known for his work on the clarinet, was one of the major songwriters and big band leaders in the 1920s through the ‘40s. Probably his best remembered songs were “Pennies from Heaven” with fellow legends Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong and performing the original 1930 recording of “Georgia on My Mind”; Trombonist Tommy, known as the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”, is best remembered for tunes like “Song of India”, “Opus One”, “The Sunnyside of the Street”; and “I’ll Never Smile Again.”

And this film had no shortage of successful musical performances, complete with some of the best old standards like “Getting Sentimental Over You,” and the aforementioned “I’ll Never Smile Again”.  The film also had smaller roles and cameos from other stars from the Big Band Era, including Paul Whitman, Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell and famed pianist Art Tatum.

Sadly, nearly all of these former music greats have long since been forgotten. But through this film, their names live on.  Tragically, both brothers died before their 57th birthdays within 10 years of the release of this movie.

The film was directed by Alfred E. Green (The Jackie Robinson Story  & The Jolson Story) who successfully directed many performers-turned-actors playing themselves in films and, by this time, was well-known for bringing out an entertainer’s personality traits while not overplaying the star’s acting abilities and keeping their comedic lines within the context of the film.

You don’t have to be fans of old standards to enjoy this well-produced partial biopic that makes for a very entertaining story even without any previous knowledge of the Dorseys’ great history.

Tune in and dance along to this great look at the Big Band Era. “The Fabulous Dorseys” next airs on Tuesday, September 1 st , at 9 a.m. on RCN TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.