Another Moment Of Epiphany

Epiphany

When most people see the word “epiphany”, the first thing they think of is Christmastime and the Three Wise Men following the star and giving their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus.  That would be the Epiphany with a capital “E”.  The kind of epiphany I talk about here has happened a few times in my life.   The definition of that kind of epiphany is the following:  An experience of sudden and striking realization.  Guess what?  I had an epiphany today on the drive home from work!  And, by all means, it is not my first epiphany.  Allow me to tell you what my the other two epiphanies in my life (at least the ones I remember) were:

  1. When I was working at the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI back in the summer of 1979, a graduate of high school moving on to my first semester of college, employees on their way to and from their workplace at the resort would punch in and out on their time cards at this little shack behind a fenced-in employee parking lot.  This shack would monthly have two piles of copies of Playboy and Oui magazines to employees to take free of charge.  Being a hormone-driven 18-year-old lad, I gladly accepted the offering.  One of those Playboy magazines had as its Playmate of the Month, Dorothy Stratten.  Yes, the same Dorothy Stratten whose meteoric rise to stardom and consequent and shocking halt to that rise following her grisly death at the hands of a jealous estranged husband, was turned into two major motion pictures.  But back then, in the summer of ’79, Dorothy Stratten was just a centerfold in the magazine.  And she was 18 years old.  I saw her in that centerfold.  She was 18.  I was 18.  The thought entered my mind as if I’d uttered it if I’d had my own bar mitzvah:  Today, I am a man.  Epiphany #1
  2. Fast forward to the early ’90’s.  I am now in my early 30’s.  I’m watching a TV program on the cable channel Nickelodeon called “Clarissa Explains It All”…the vehicle that first launched Melissa Joan Hart into a brief period of television stardom after her portrayal of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”.  I’m watching the show, and I notice this lady on the program.  I’m thinking that this gal is pretty hot.  Then, I watch the opening credits.  The gal that I think is so “hot” plays Clarissa’s mom on the show (I learned today that Clarissa’s mom was played by Elizabeth Hess).  The thought entered my mind.  Today, I am an old man. Epiphany #2.

We move on now to today.  Driving home from work, I hear a conversation between the hosts of a sports talk program on a Chicago radio station and the college football expert that frequents their show weekly.  A reference to an REO Speedwagon song is made by one of the hosts.  The college football expert counters with another.  REO Speedwagon song references are volleyed back and forth.  Then, the college football expert says the following: “My dad used to play REO Speedwagon all the time.”  He could have just said Guy Lombardo or Glenn Miller instead.  I wish he would have.  The thought entered my mind.  Today, I am an ancient relic.  Epiphany #3.

Three-Finger Salute

As of 3:25PM CDT on 10/21/15,  the Chicago Cubs are put in a position to accomplish something that’s only been done once in baseball history:  Namely, coming off a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series to sweep the final four games, win the series, and–in this case–put the Cubs into a World Series for the first time in 70 years.  Even then, the Cubs didn’t win the world’s championship.  It’s pretty well known by now that the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908.

So, with the daunting (and virtually impossible) task at hand for the Cubs to win four straight and defeat the New York Mets to earn a spot in the Fall Classic (and it’s moving deeper and deeper into the fall these days thanks to the expansion of the playoffs), I sat and wondered what exactly it would take for the Cubs to finally make it into a World Series within the next few seasons.

By the way, I type this post on “Back To The Future Day”…the day that Michael J. Fox’s and Christopher Lloyd’s characters were transported to in “Back To The Future II”:  October 21, 2015.  In my case, I’m going to transport myself back to 1908 and try to figure out what that world championship Cubs team had that Joe Maddon’s current crop of young Cubs is lacking.

I believe I have the answer.

In the off-season, I suggest to Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to ask their scouting staff to seek out a pitcher that has only three fingers on his throwing hand.

I say this because, in 1908, Cubs pitcher Mordecai Brown (AKA “Three-Finger” Brown) was considered by perhaps the greatest manager of the first third of baseball’s 20th century, New York Giants manager John McGraw, as one the two best pitchers in the 1900’s National League along with McGraw’s own pitcher, inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Christy Mathewson.  “Three-Finger” Brown had a career record of 239–130 record with  a 2.06 earned run average, the third best ERA in Major League Baseball history among players inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the best in major league history for any pitcher with more than 200 wins.

Mordecai Brown also played at Wrigley Field before the Cubs did.  In 1915, Brown pitched for the Federal League Chicago Whales, who played at Weegham Park on the corner of Clark and Addison Streets on Chicago’s North Side.  The Cubs moved to Weegham Park in 1916 and have stayed there ever since…and “Three-Finger” Brown was on that first Cubs team to play at what is now Wrigley.

So there is my suggestion for the Cubs.  Find another three-fingered pitcher like Mordecai Brown.  Or, perhaps, offer a multi-million dollar bonus to, say, Kyle Hendricks or Jason Hammel to hack off the pointer finger on his pitching hand.

3FingerBrown

Why I’m Watching TV Outside Of Pro Football These Days

TedTV

Over the past couple decades or so, I have really soured on episodic television.  I don’t know whether it’s just that I don’t have the patience to sit through a drama, or whether the level of what’s considered comedy on TV comedies has become 30 minutes wasted in my world, but it’s gotten to the point that, as I mentioned in the title, the only TV I watch these days is professional football.

Something has changed that, however, and that’s streaming video.  If there is one thing about being married for what will  be 13 years next year, it’s that my wife has introduced me to a lot of technological advances that have opened up options in my life.  Being the technological dinosaur that I am, I tend to dismiss and grumble about it at first, implement the new concept introduced by my spouse for a while, and warm up to it.  That’s what’s happened with me and grilled food, dark chocolate, red wine, Facebook, the iPhone, and now Netflix and Hulu, among other things.

The two streaming video services I mentioned, Netflix and Hulu, have been a gateway to viewing television that I really like, and it fits a schedule when me and my wife can sit and watch it.  If not for Netflix or Hulu (or, for that matter iTunes on our Apple TV box), I would have never sat, watched and enjoyed series that I never saw in first run, “3rd Rock From The Sun”.   I would have never seen the complete “Mad Men” series and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed HBO’s “House Of Cards” on Netflix (though, after last season, hoping that it doesn’t return for another because I believe the show has run its course).  Hulu allowed me to view the entire run of “The Sopranos”, and I understand why some people call it a TV pinnacle.  Having these resources to see good TV when we want to see good TV (and sample TV we think might be good, but decide against in the end) is a wonderful blessing for our entertainment appetite.

These days, there are three sitcoms that we’ve been watching that have made me do something that I seldom do when watching sitcoms these days:  in text language, LOL.

  1. “The Muppets”–I was somewhat skeptical when ABC (owned by Disney, owner of the Muppets now) announced that they were bringing back the Muppets for a weekly TV series.  Out of curiosity, I checked out the pilot of the series on Hulu.  After watching the first few episodes, I am a big fan.  The show does a great job of spoofing show business with the late night talk show plot line, though it seems like a number of the many famous Muppets over the 50+ years of the act are awkwardly put in roles on the program to simply have them in the program.  Overlooking that, the writing is sharp and very funny…which is what Jim Henson was after in the first place when he created the Muppets.  He wanted to take puppetry out of the kids’ entertainment realm and move it into entertainment for big people (I was going to say moving puppets from kids’ entertainment to adult entertainment, but the term “adult entertainment” has a whole different meaning these days).  A good example of his trying to reach an older audience with his Muppets and his humor was that weekly bit that what was then still “NBC’s Saturday Night” (now “Saturday Night Live”) tried with the Muppets in this goth world waiting to talk to “The Mighty Phavog”. (You can read more about it here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Land_of_Gorch ).  It failed on camera and behind the scenes, and went away after one “SNL” season.  But this Muppets series on ABC works, and you can tell that the Muppets have succeeded in moving into more adult humor with the ranking in the upper left hand corner of the screen of TV-PG.  Well worth the watch.
  2. “The Jim Gaffigan Show”–After hearing plenty about how good a stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan was, we watched one of his HBO stand-up specials on Netflix.  I swear, I laughed so hard at his act that it hurt to watch it because I was having such difficulty breathing due to all the hard laughing I was doing; the show we were watching was called “Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe”, BTW, if you want to laugh a lot and have respiratory problems as well.  We sought out a few other Jim Gaffigan HBO specials, and they were good, too…but no breathing difficulties during them.  Then, later, we found on the Hulu menu “The Jim Gaffigan Show”.  We had to see what it was all about.  Jim Gaffigan has finished his first season of a TV Land sitcom, and the results have been enjoyable viewing.  It’s kind of like “Seinfeld” if Jerry were married with five kids…and being married with five kids has been the backbone of Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up work.  Fewer friends than Jerry, though…which happens with a wife and five kids, I guess, ’cause there’s less time for it.  But the show circulates around what Jim Gaffigan talks about in his stand-up routine:  His family life, his love of food, his fatness (and my fatness, BTW, may have caused my breathing difficulty when watching his HBO special), his pasty complexion and ordinary looks, among other things.  In fact, I would suggest that if you haven’t watched Jim Gaffigan’s HBO specials prior to watching this series, do so.  A few things are mentioned in the program about Jim (e.g., Hot Pockets) that you might need to know to fully understand the “Jim Gaffigan Show” experience.  One thing that does make me uncomfortable about the series, however, as a Catholic, is Jim’s irreverence toward his wife’s Catholic faith.  It’s not bashing in any way, but it does make me a little squirmy.  Outside of that, well worth the watch.
  3. “Miranda”–Last night, my lovely bride and I watched the Melissa McCarthy movie “Spy”.  The reason we “rented” it was because we saw that Miranda Hart was a cast member in the film.  Melissa McCarthy was very good in the film (though she has a very, very filthy mouth in her dialogue, which shocked even me), but this movie was a great vehicle for the stellar British comedienne, Miranda Hart.  Most people in America may know Miranda Hart as playing the nurse known as Chummy on the BBC drama that was rebroadcast on public TV here, “Call The Midwife”.  But Miranda Hart came to prominence in the UK on a sitcom she created, wrote and starred in called “Miranda”.  I use the past tense in describing the series because the BBC cancelled the series in 2014.  After learning more about Miranda Hart’s past work during the “Call The Midwife” airings (which we caught on Netflix, not public TV), we were curious to see the “Miranda” sitcom, but the only place we could locate it was in clips on YouTube.  Recently on Hulu, we found “Miranda” on the menu and began watching it.  It truly is one of the funniest television series I have ever seen.  Miranda Hart (or her character on the series) is best described as tall, awkward, plain looking, and desperate for a match with a man.  She is also very funny.  Miranda Hart also excels at physical comedy, and her takes at the camera as she breaks the fourth wall (addresses the viewing audience) are stunningly fresh and funny.  At first, I called this show “I Love Lucy With A Brain” because the writing is very clever and sharp…like much of the best of British comedy.  After further review, I’ll call “Miranda” a hybrid of “I Love Lucy”, “Seinfeld”, and the innovative comedy of the ’80’s, “The Young Ones”.  Of all three of the shows that I’ve written about, I most highly recommend this one.  Of course, we’re only into season two of what became a five-season show (or five-series programme, as they’d call it in Britain), but we’ve already seen season/series one, and it’s been an absolute hoot.  My wife parallels Miranda Hart with Carol Burnett during her variety show days.  Whatever the case, Miranda Hart has put together one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen.  Yes, well worth the watch.

He Was On Facebook, Then He Was Off Facebook, Now He’s Back On Facebook?!?

FacebookOrNo

Let me explain:  I was on Facebook for a long while, and I developed a loyal following that appreciated my posts.  Then, in July, I decided to drop off Facebook entirely on Labor Day because I wanted to back off from bringing attention to myself.  However, I started a new job this past Monday as a news reporter, and I was told by one of my news colleagues for the company I am now working for that having a Facebook page to get information from various government and service agencies and area notables that post on Facebook was a valuable tool for my work.  So, with this in mind, I built a new Facebook page.  And, without promoting it in any particular way, I have so far attracted two friends in two days.  So I have resumed linking my Bottomless Pit blogposts to Facebook.  I was also told that Twitter is also a great source for info from those sources as well, so I’m back in the Twitterverse again.  So much for being a high-tech hermit.