Wednesday, June 12, 2024

And So We Enter the Post-Pat Sajak Era

TV shows come and go and therefore so too do the people in them come and go, into and out of our lives. Most shows only last two or three seasons— maybe six or eight if they are really popular. It’s a very transient world in that way.

It’s an extremely rare show that lasts a decade or longer. 

And then we have Wheel of Fortune and specifically Pat Sajak who hosted the show for 41 years until his retirement this year . His final show aired last Friday.

Pat Sajak became a legend because he is so likable and funny and unassuming and naturally at ease with random strangers that, over time, you as the viewer start to think of him as almost a friend. A guy you are happy to see on the screen. Every night. For over 40 years. 

Here is his farewell message. 

Classy, selfless, genuine.

I loved watching the show and so did my whole family. Time marches on I guess and there will be reruns and a new guy in the fall and I’m sure he’ll be fine.

One thing he won’t be is Pat Sajak.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Who Sings Lead, Well It’s Not Who You Think


Raise your hand if you too had no idea that the drummer sand lead vocals on the verses, not Frankie Valli…

That drummer is Gerry Polci and he is a fine singer. 

That’s not Valli on the falsetto, either — it’s bassist Don Ciccone. Wikipedia says that music executives came up with the idea to have those two him sing lead and bass player Don Ciccone to sing the falsetto with Valli handling the choruses.

Didn’t know that either!

Imagine a band with such strong singers — your drummer and bass player, no less — that you can make a hit song using legend Frankie Valli as the third featured singer, the equivalent of a hired background singer.

Just an amazing song and it always sounds fresh. Turn it up!

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Clint Eastwood 70s Classic


Two thumbs up on both the title tune and the movie, and this video gives you a good taste of how it all goes down.

He drives around rural California fighting various dumbasses and losers, along with chasing his girlfriend around. An orangutan named Clyde is his partner and gets some of the biggest laughs in the movie, along with Ruth Gordon who is always a little cranky and not taking any bullshit from anyone.

Highly original and memorable. It’s been literally decades since I’ve seen it, but I plan to watch soon. It’s funny and filled with great music and is just a good time.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Bob Fosse in his Prime


I know very little about dancing but there are certain dancers that I immediately and instinctively like. Fred Astaire for his smoothness and grace, Gene Kelly for his explosive athleticism, James Cagney for his compact power, these are the main three that come to mind.

I’ve seen Bob Fosse as subject of the movie “All That Jazz”, about a dance legend turned choreographer, but had never him do any actual dancing in his prime. 

Then I stumbled across this song and dance video from the 1953 movie “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis “ with Bob Fosse, Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Van, and Barbara Ruick. Keep your eye on Fosse, in the sweater with white socks.

The whole clip is just fun to watch but Fosse is on another level here, so explosive and athletic, similar in my mind to Gene Kelly but with a smaller frame and (to me it seems) more movement in his extremities. 

He just moves differently than everyone other dancer, ever. Truly one of a kind.

He moved pretty quickly after that into choreography on Broadway, and his list of awards is pretty extensive:

He transitioned into directing and choreographing musical works including the stage musicals winning Tony Awards for The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees (1955), Redhead (1959), Little Me (1963), Sweet Charity (1966), Pippin (1972), Dancin' (1978), and Big Deal (1986). He also worked on Bells Are Ringing (1956), New Girl in Town (1958), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961), and Chicago (1975).

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bridge Types Explained


Bridges have always fascinated me …

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Today in 1843: First Large Oregon Trail Migration


In 1841 the wagon train was around 70 people, and in 1842 around 100, but in 1843 as a result of “encouragement” (maybe propaganda is more accurate) by the government and other hucksters the wagon train was 1,000 strong plus 5,000 oxen and cattle.

The Oregon Territory was not even technically part of the U.S. yet — this did not happen until 1846 when Britain just handed it over for free, essentially — but over the preceeding 30 years fur trappers and traders, missionaries, and other pioneers had established a trail from Missouri.

The Oregon Trail was laid by fur traders and trappers from about 1811 to 1840 and was initially only passable on foot or horseback. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. Wagon trails were cleared increasingly farther west and eventually reached the Willamette Valley in Oregon, at which point what came to be called the Oregon Trail was complete, even as almost annual improvements were made in the form of bridges, cutoffs, ferries, and roads, which made the trip faster and safer. From various starting points in Iowa, Missouri, or Nebraska Territory, the routes converged along the lower Platte River Valley near Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory. They led to fertile farmlands west of the Rocky Mountains. From the early to mid-1830s (and particularly through the years 1846–1869) the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by about 400,000 settlers, farmers, miners, ranchers, and business owners and their families to get to the area known as Oregon and its surrounding counterparts. The eastern half of the trail was also used by travelers on the California Trail (from 1843), Mormon Trail (from 1847), and Bozeman Trail (from 1863) before turning off to their separate destinations. Use of the trail declined after the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, making the trip west substantially faster, cheaper, and safer.

It was 2,170 miles long. They rode on horseback or in covered wagons, and many died along the way from drownings during river crossings, disease, injuries, Indian attacks, and more.

A map: